Compulsory Retirement; 5 Important Legal Principles & Judgments

In the case of Baikuntha Nath Das & Anr. Vs. Chief District Medical Officer, Baripada & Anr. reported in AIR 1992 SC 1020 the Apex Court has laid down certain guidelines & the scope of judicial review to be kept in mind by the courts while examining the order of compulsory retirement and that include malafides, even if the order is based on no evidence or if the order is arbitrary in the sense that no reasonable person with ordinary prudence would form the requisite opinion on the given material, if it is found to be a perverse order.

Compulsory Retirement

The Apex Court, thus, held ad infra:-

  • 1. An order of compulsory retirement is not a punishment. It implies no stigma nor any suggestion of misbehavior.
  • 2. The order has to be passed by the Government on forming the opinion that it is in the public interest to retire a Government servant compulsorily. The order is passed on the subjective satisfaction of the Government.
  • 3. Principles of natural justice have no place in the context of an order of compulsory retirement. This does not mean that judicial scrutiny is excluded altogether. While the High Court or the Court would not examine the matter as an appellate Court, they may interfere if they are satisfied that the order is passed (a) mala fide or (b) that it is based on no evidence or (c) that it is arbitrary- in the sense that no reasonable person would form the requisite opinion on the given material: in short, if it is found to be a perverse order.
  • 4. The Government (or the Review Committee, as the case may be) shall have to consider the entire record of service before taking a decision in the matter- of course attaching more importance to record of and performance during the later years. The record to be so considered would naturally include the entries in the confidential records/character rolls, both favourable and adverse. If a Government servant is promoted to a higher post notwithstanding the adverse remarks, such remarks loose their sting, more so, if the promotion is based upon merit (selection) and not upon seniority.
  • 5. An order of compulsory retirement is not liable to be quashed by a Court merely on the showing that while passing it uncommunicated adverse remarks were also taken into consideration. That circumstance by itself cannot be a basis for interference”.

Case Law Reference

1. Posts & Telegraphs Board v. C.S.N. Murthy, AIR 1992 SC 1368

There was a very limited scope of judicial review in a case of compulsory retirement and it was permissible only on the grounds of non-application of mind; mala fides; or want of material particulars. Power to retire compulsorily a Government servant in terms of Service Rules is absolute, provided the authority concerned forms a bona fide opinion that compulsory retirement is in public interest”.

2. Pyare Mohan Lal v. State of Jharkhand, AIR 2010 SC 3753

The law on the point can be summarized to the effect that an order of compulsory retirement is not a punishment and it does not imply stigma unless such order is passed to impose a punishment for a proved misconduct, as prescribed in the Statutory Rules.

3. Nawal Singh Vs. State of U.P. and Anr. reported in (2003) 8 SCC 117

The judicial service is not a service in the sense of an employment. Judges are discharging their functions while exercising the sovereign judicial power of the State. Their honesty and integrity is expected to be beyond doubt. It should be reflected in their overall reputation. Further nature of judicial service is such that it cannot afford to suffer continuance in service of persons of doubtful integrity or who have lost their utility. If such evaluation is done by the Committee of the High Court Judges and is affirmed in the writ petition, except in very exceptional circumstances, the Supreme Court would not interfere with the same, particularly because the order of compulsory retirement is based on the subjective satisfaction of the authority. The present appeals are required to be decided on the basis of the said principles.

4. Rajendra Singh Verma v. Lieutenant Governor (NCT of Delhi), (2011) 10 SCC 1

It is well settled by a catena of decisions of this Court that while considering the case of an officer as to whether he should be continued in service or compulsorily retired, his entire service record up to that date on which consideration is made has to be taken into account. What weight should be attached to earlier entries as compared to recent entries is a matter of evaluation, but there is no manner of doubt that consideration has to be of the entire service record. The fact that an officer, after an earlier adverse entry, was promoted does not wipe out earlier adverse entry at all. It would be wrong to contend that merely for the reason that after an earlier adverse entry an officer was promoted that by itself would preclude the authority from considering the earlier adverse entry. When the law says that the entire service record has to be taken into consideration, the earlier adverse entry, which forms a part of the service record, would also be relevant irrespective of the fact whether the officer concerned was promoted to higher position or whether he was granted certain benefits like increments etc.

5. Gavendra Singh Chauhan v. State [Rajasthan High Court, 22-08-2016]

The formation of opinion for compulsory retirement is based on subjective satisfaction of the authority concerned but at the same time when the matter comes for judicial review, courts can certainly look into as to whether valid material exists or not, or whether the order of compulsory retirement is based on some material or not but sufficiency of material cannot be a ground for setting aside the order of compulsory retirement.