CENTRAL INDUSTRIAL SECURITY FORCE vs HC (GD) OM PRAKASH

CENTRAL INDUSTRIAL SECURITY FORCE  vs HC (GD) OM PRAKASH - Supreme Court Case 2022

REPORTABLE
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 5428 OF 2012
CENTRAL INDUSTRIAL SECURITY FORCE .....APPELLANT(S)
VERSUS
HC (GD) OM PRAKASH .....RESPONDENT(S)
J U D G M E N T
HEMANT GUPTA, J.
1. The present appeal arises out of an order dated 14.10.2011 passed by
the Division Bench of the High Court of Delhi whereby the order of
premature retirement passed against the respondent was set aside.
2. The respondent, Head Constable Om Prakash1
 was prematurely retired
on 16.08.2011 in exercise of the powers conferred under Rule 56(j) of
the Fundamental Rules read with Rule 48(1)(b) of CCS (Pension) Rules,
19722
 after completion of 30 years of service. The order is to the effect
that the Superannuation Review Committee under Rule 48(1)(b) of the
Rules found the writ petitioner not fit to continue in service beyond 30
years of qualifying service with immediate effect.
1 Hereinafter referred to as the ‘Writ Petitioner’
2 For short ‘the Rules’
1
3. In the writ petition challenging such order, the High Court set aside the
order of premature retirement on the ground that the writ petitioner
was promoted as Head Constable on 14.06.2000 and thus penalties
imposed prior to the year 2000 have to be ignored while determining
suitability of the writ petitioner to be retained in service. The two
penalties of sleeping on duty and overstaying leave by two days were
inflicted in the year 2005 and 2008 respectively which were minor
penalties. The Annual Confidential Reports3
 grading of the writ
petitioner in the preceding five years have to be considered with
greater focus while noticing the fact that even earlier ACR’s had to be
taken into consideration. The ACR’s from 1990 till the year 2009 were
either good or very good. The ACR for the year 2010 was graded
average but the same was not conveyed to the writ petitioner.
Therefore, such ACR could not be taken into consideration while
arriving at an opinion that the writ petitioner is a dead wood. The High
Court referred to a three Judge Bench judgment of this Court reported
as Baikuntha Nath Das and Another v. Chief District Medical
Officer, Baripada and Another
4
 wherein it has been held that the
order of compulsory retirement is not a punishment. It implies no
stigma nor any suggestion of misbehaviour. The order of compulsory
retirement is in public interest and is passed on the subjective
satisfaction of the Government and is not liable to be quashed by the
3 ACR
4 (1992) 2 SCC 299
2
Court merely for the reason that uncommunicated adverse remarks
were taken into consideration.
4. This Court approved the earlier judgment of this Court reported as
Union of India v. M. E. Reddy and Another
5
 wherein it was held as
under:
“12. An order of compulsory retirement on one hand causes no
prejudice to the government servant who is made to lead a
restful life enjoying full pensionary and other benefits and on the
other gives a new animation and equanimity to the Services. The
employees should try to understand the true spirit behind the
rule which is not to penalise them but amounts just to a fruitful
incident of the Service made in the larger interest of the country.
Even if the employee feels that he has suffered, he should derive
sufficient solace and consolation from the fact that this is his
small contribution to his country, for every good cause claims its
martyr.”
5. We find that the High Court has completely misdirected itself while
setting aside the order of premature retirement of the writ petitioner.
The writ petitioner has been awarded number of punishments prior to
his promotion including receiving illegal gratification from a transporter
while on duty in the year 1993. There are also allegations of absence
from duty and overstaying of leave. After promotion, a punishment of
four days fine was imposed on the charge of sleeping on duty and two
days fine was imposed for overstayed from joining time. Apart from the
said punishments, the writ petitioner has a mixed bag of ACRs such as
average, below average, satisfactory good and very good. In the last 5
years, he has been graded average for the period 01.01.2010 to
5 (1980) 2 SCC 15
3
31.12.2010.
6. After the judgment in Baikuntha Nath Das, a three Judge Bench in a
judgment reported as Posts and Telegraphs Board and Others v.
C.S.N. Murthy
6
 held that the courts would not interfere with the
exercise of the power of compulsory retirement if arrived at bonafidely
and on the basis of material available on record. The Court held as
under:
“5. …. Whether the conduct of the employee is such as to justify
such a conclusion is primarily for the departmental authorities to
decide. The nature of the delinquency and whether it is of such a
degree as to require the compulsory retirement of the employee
are primarily for the Government to decide upon. The courts will
not interfere with the exercise of this power, if arrived at bona
fide and on the basis of material available on the record. No
mala fides have been urged in the present case. The only
suggestion of the High Court is that the record discloses no
material which would justify the action taken against the
respondent. We are unable to agree. In our opinion, there was
material which showed that the efficiency of the petitioner was
slackening in the last two years of the period under review and it
is, therefore, not possible for us to fault the conclusion of the
department as being mala fide, perverse, arbitrary or
unreasonable.”
7. A three Judge Bench of this Court reported as Union of India and
Others v. Dulal Dutt
7
 examined the order of compulsory retirement of
a Controller of Stores in Indian Railway. It was held that an order of
compulsory retirement is not an order of punishment. It is a
prerogative of the Government but it should be based on material and
has to be passed on the subjective satisfaction of the Government and
6 (1992) 2 SCC 317
7 (1993) 2 SCC 179
4
that it is not required to be a speaking order. This Court held as under:
“18. It will be noticed that the Tribunal completely erred in
assuming, in the circumstances of the case, that there ought to
have been a speaking order for compulsory retirement. This
Court, has been repeatedly emphasising right from the case
of R.L. Butail v. Union of India [(1970) 2 SCC 876] and Union of
India v. J.N. Sinha [(1970) 2 SCC 458] that an order of a
compulsory retirement is not an order of punishment. It is
actually a prerogative of the Government but it should be based
on material and has to be passed on the subjective satisfaction
of the Government. Very often, on enquiry by the Court the
Government may disclose the material but it is very much
different from the saying that the order should be a speaking
order. No order of compulsory retirement is required to be a
speaking order. From the very order of the Tribunal it is clear that
the Government had, before it, the report of the Review
Committee yet it thought it fit of compulsorily retiring the
respondent. The order cannot be called either mala fide or
arbitrary in law.”

8. In another judgment reported as Secretary to the Government and
Another v. Nityananda Pati
8
, the order of the High Court setting
aside the compulsory retirement for the reason that certain
uncommunicated adverse remarks were taken into consideration was
set aside by this Court.
9. In Union of India v. V.P. Seth and Another
9
, relying upon
Baikuntha Nath Das and other judgments, it was held as under:
“3. These principles were reiterated with approval in the
subsequent decision. It would, therefore, seem that an order of
compulsory retirement can be made subject to judicial review
only on grounds of mala fides, arbitrariness or perversity and
that the rule of audi alteram partem has no application since the
order of compulsory retirement in such a situation is not penal in
nature. The position of law having thus been settled by two
8 (1993) Supp 2 SCC 391
9 (1994) SCC (L&S) 1052
5
decisions of this Court, we are afraid that the order of the
Tribunal cannot be sustained as the same runs counter to the
principles laid down in the said two decisions.”
10. A three Judge Bench of this Court in a judgment reported as State of
Punjab v. Gurdas Singh
10
 considered the argument that the order of
compulsory retirement was based on material which was non-existent
inasmuch as there were no adverse remarks against him and if there
were any such remarks, it should have been communicated to him.
This Court held as under:
“11. …..Before the decision to retire a government servant
prematurely is taken the authorities are required to consider the
whole record of service. Any adverse entry prior to earning of
promotion or crossing of efficiency bar or picking up higher rank
is not wiped out and can be taken into consideration while
considering the overall performance of the employee during
whole of his tenure of service whether it is in public interest to
retain him in the service. The whole record of service of the
employee will include any uncommunicated adverse entries as
well.”
11. In State of U.P. and Others v. Raj Kishore Goel
11
, the order of the
High Court setting aside the order of compulsory retirement was set
aside when the order of compulsory retirement was on account of
uncommunicated ACR.
12. In the judgment reported as Rajasthan State Road Transport
Corporation and Others v. Babu Lal Jangir
12
, the High Court had
taken into consideration adverse entries for the period 12 years prior
to premature retirement. This Court held that Brij Mohan Singh
10 (1998) 4 SCC 92
11 (2001) 10 SCC 183
12 (2013) 10 SCC 551
6
Chopra v. State of Punjab
13 was overruled only on the second
proposition that an order of compulsory retirement is required to be
passed after complying with the principles of natural justice. This Court
also considered the “washed-off theory” i.e., the remarks would be
wiped off on account of such record being of remote past. Reliance was
placed upon a three Judge Bench judgment of this Court reported as
Pyare Mohan Lal v. State of Jharkhand and Others
14 and it was
observed that:
“22. It clearly follows from the above that the clarification given
by a two-Judge Bench judgment in Badrinath [(2000) 8 SCC 395 :
2001 SCC (L&S) 13 : (2000) 6 Scale 618] is not correct and the
observations of this Court in Gurdas Singh [(1998) 4 SCC 92 :
1998 SCC (L&S) 1004 : AIR 1998 SC 1661] to the effect that the
adverse entries prior to the promotion or crossing of efficiency
bar or picking up higher rank are not wiped off and can be taken
into account while considering the overall performance of the
employee when it comes to the consideration of case of that
employee for premature retirement.
23. The principle of law which is clarified and stands crystallised
after the judgment in Pyare Mohan Lal v. State of
Jharkhand [(2010) 10 SCC 693 : (2011) 1 SCC (L&S) 550] is that
after the promotion of an employee the adverse entries prior
thereto would have no relevance and can be treated as wiped off
when the case of the government employee is to be considered
for further promotion. However, this “washed-off theory” will
have no application when the case of an employee is being
assessed to determine whether he is fit to be retained in service
or requires to be given compulsory retirement. The rationale
given is that since such an assessment is based on “entire
service record”, there is no question of not taking into
consideration the earlier old adverse entries or record of the old
period. We may hasten to add that while such a record can be
taken into consideration, at the same time, the service record of
13 (1987) 2 SCC 188
14 (2010) 10 SCC 693
7
the immediate past period will have to be given due credence
and weightage. For example, as against some very old adverse
entries where the immediate past record shows exemplary
performance, ignoring such a record of recent past and acting
only on the basis of old adverse entries, to retire a person will be
a clear example of arbitrary exercise of power. However, if old
record pertains to integrity of a person then that may be
sufficient to justify the order of premature retirement of the
government servant.”
13. There are numerous other judgments upholding the orders of
premature retirement of judicial officers inter alia on the ground that
the judicial service is not akin to other services. A person discharging
judicial duties acts on behalf of the State in discharge of its sovereign
functions. Dispensation of justice is not only an onerous duty but has
been considered as discharge of a pious duty, therefore, it is a very
serious matter. This Court in Ram Murti Yadav v. State of Uttar
Pradesh and Another
15
 held as under:
“6. ….The scope for judicial review of an order of compulsory
retirement based on the subjective satisfaction of the employer
is extremely narrow and restricted. Only if it is found to be based
on arbitrary or capricious grounds, vitiated by mala fides,
overlooks relevant materials, could there be limited scope for
interference. The court, in judicial review, cannot sit in judgment
over the same as an appellate authority. Principles of natural
justice have no application in a case of compulsory retirement.”
14. Thus, we find that the High Court has not only misread the judgment of
this Court in Baikuntha Nath Das but wrongly applied the principles
laid down therein. The adverse remarks can be taken into
consideration as mentioned in the number of judgments mentioned
15 (2020) 1 SCC 801
8
above. There is also a factual error in the order of the High Court that
there are no adverse remarks and that the ACRs for the year 1990 till
the year 2009 were either good or very good. In fact, the summary of
ACRs as reproduced by the High Court itself shows average,
satisfactory and in fact below average reports as well.
15. The entire service record is to be taken into consideration which would
include the ACRs of the period prior to the promotion. The order of
premature retirement is required to be passed on the basis of entire
service records, though the recent reports would carry their own
weight.
16. In view of the said fact, we find that the order of the High Court setting
aside the order of premature retirement is clearly unsustainable and is
set aside. The appeal is allowed. The writ petition thus stands
dismissed.
.............................................J.
(HEMANT GUPTA)
.............................................J.
(V. RAMASUBRAMANIAN)
NEW DELHI;
FEBRUARY 04, 2022.
9

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