Fixing retirement age is Govt`s discretion

Age of superannuation can be reduced or increased unilaterally at the discretion of the Government and courts cannot interfere with such decisions, the Supreme Court has ruled.

Last Updated: Dec 31, 2010, 18:10 PM IST

New Delhi: Age of superannuation can be
reduced or increased unilaterally at the discretion of the
Government and courts cannot interfere with such decisions,
the Supreme Court has ruled.

A three judge bench of Justices - J M Panchal, Deepak
Verma and B Chauhan in a judgement quashed the interim orders
of the Allahabad High Court which had directed the Mayawati
Government to restore 62 years as the age of superannuation
for Government pleaders (advocates).
The apex court agreed with the Government`s view that
fixing the age falls within the exclusive competence of the
State authorities,and thus,the court should not interfere in
such policy decisions,unless it was patently unconstitutional.

Citing the Constitutional Bench judgements in the
Bishun Narain Misra vs the State of Uttar Pradesh (1965) case,
the apex court said reducing the age of retirement could
neither be invalid nor could be held to be retrospective as
the said rule was a method adopted to tide over the difficult
situation which could arise in public services.

"It is evident that even in government services where
the terms and conditions of service are governed by the
statutory provisions, the Legislature is competent to enhance
or reduce the age of superannuation.

"In view of the above, it is beyond our imaginations
as why such a course is not permissible for the appellant -
State while fixing the age of working of the District
Government Advocates," the bench observed.

In the instant case the High Court had stayed
the operation of amended provisions of the U.P. Legal
Remembrancer Manual (L R Manual) which sought to reduce the
retirement age from 62 to 60 years.
It had further directed the State Government to
consider the applications for renewal of the all District
Government Counsel whose term had already expired, resorting
to the unamended provisions of the L.R. Manual and they be
allowed to serve till they attain the age upto 62 years.

"The High Court under no circumstance could direct the
State authorities to consider the cases for renewal/extension
under the provisions of the unamended L.R. i.e. non-existing
provisions. Such interim order tantamounts to legislation by
judicial orders,"Justice Chauhan writing the judgement
observed.

The apex court also recalled its earlier ruling in the
Roshan Lal Tandon v. Union of India & Ors(1967)that emoluments
of Government servants and terms of service "could be altered
by the employer unilaterally for the reason that conditions of
service are governed by statutory rules which can be
unilaterally altered by the Government without the consent of
the employee."

PTI