Vs. Shri Suman Behari Sharma  INSC 483 (2 April 1996)
G.T. (J) Nanavati G.T. (J) Agrawal, S.C.
(J) Nanavati. J,
1996 AIR 1353 1996 SCC (4) 584 JT 1996 (5) 462 1996 SCALE (3)223
Pradesh Horticultural Produce Marketing & Processing Corporation Ltd. (for
short HPMC) has filed this appeal against the order passed by the Himachal
Pradesh Administrative Tribunal in O.A. No. 74 of 1993.
respondent was an employee of HPMC. On 1.5.1990 he applied for long leave but
was allowed to remain on leave till 30.11.1990 only. On 26.11.1990 he applied
for voluntary retirement effective from 30.11.1990 and also requested for
waiver of notice period of three months. Without ascertaining what happened to
his request he did not report for duty on 1.12.1990 and continued to remain
absent thereafter. Earlier on 12.12.1989 a chargesheet was issued against him
for certain acts of misconduct. On 26.12.1989 he filed a reply to the said chargesheet.
Again on 27.8.1992 and 18.9.1992 he was served with two more chargesheets.
the chargesheet dated 27.8.1992 was in respect to his unauthorised absence from
1.12.1990 the other was in respect of his acts of misconduct. Thereupon, on
30.9.1992 he approached the Tribunal challenging the two memos dated 27.8.1992
and 18.9.1992 whereby departmental enquiries were proposed to be conducted
against him and also the order dated 28.6.1991 whereby Rs.28,214/- were sought
to be recovered from him.
contention of the respondent before the Tribunal was that as no action was
taken by the HPMC on his request for retirement he stood retired with effect
from 26.2.1991, on expiry of three months from the date of the notice and,
therefore, no enquiry could be held against him thereafter.
while interpreting clause 3.8 of the Himachal Pradesh Horticultural Produce
Marketing and Processing Corporation Ltd. - Employees Service Bye-laws, which
provides for superannuation and retirement, held that the decisions in Dinesh
Chandra Sangma vs. State of Assam and others 1977 SLJ 622 and Union of India
vs. Harendralal Bhattacharya 1983 SLJ 418 Ramchandra vs. The State of A.P.1984
SLJ 52 wherein it has been held that the Government servant has a right to
voluntarily retire from service by giving three months' notice in writing and
that there is no question of acceptance of such request by the Government and
that the Government has no power to withhold permission to retire were
applicable. It further held that under the rule the HPMC has a privilege to
exercise its option to accept or not the request of the employe for pre-mature
retirement but that option has to be exercised within the prescribed limit of
three months. It also held that as the HPMC did not take any decision on the
application of the respondent within three months he stood retired with effect
Tribunal, therefore, quashed the two memos dated 27.8.1992 and 18.9.1992 and
directed HPMC that it cannot hold any enquiry against the respondent. The order
dated 28.5.1991 passed for recovery of Rs.28,214/- was also quashed. lt also
directed HPMC to give all the retrial benefits due and admissible to the
respondent within a period of three months. Aggrieved by this order of the
Tribunal HPMC has approached this Court.
contended by the learned counsel for the appellant is that the Tribunal has not
correctly interpreted para (5) of Bye-law 3.8 and committed an error in holding
that HPMC has to exercise its option of accepting or rejecting the request of
the employee within three months from the date of the notice for premature
reading the judgment of the Tribunal we find that it first referred to the said
three decisions and then observed: "The ratio of the aforementioned
judgments is applicable to the present case." That would mean that the
Tribunal has, though not in specific terms, held that the employee of HPMC has
a right to retire from service by giving three months notice in writing and
there is no question of acceptance of such request by HPMC. In our opinion, the
view taken by the Tribunal is not correct.
Chandra Sangma's case (supra) this Court, interpreting FR 56(c), held that
"there is no question of acceptance of the request for voluntary
retirement by the Government when the Government servant exercises his right
under FR 56(c)." (Emphasis supplied). Thus, this Court interpreted FR
56(c) as conferring a right on the Government servant to retire from service by
giving three months notice in writing and it was in that context further held
that counsel of the Government is not necessary to give legal effect to the
voluntary retirement of the Government servant under that rule.
Delhi High court in Harendralal's case (supra) and the Andhra Pradesh High
Court in Ramchandra's case (supra) also proceeded on the basis that the
relevant rules conferred a right on the Government servant to retire by giving
a notice of three months. Therefore, the ratio of those decisions is that when
a right is conferred on the employee to retire by giving three months notice
the question of acceptance of such a request would not arise provided all the
conditions prescribed by the rule are satisfied. The Tribunal should have first
considered whether Bye-law 3.8 confers such a right on the employee of HPMC.
3.8 reads as follows:
Every employee appointed to the service of the Corporation shall normally
retire when he attains the age of 58 years but in special cases their services
my be retained upto 60 years.
Notwithstanding anything contained in Clauses - I any employee may be required
by the competent authority, or permitted at his request, to retire from the
service of the Corporation on completion of 25 years service or at the age of
50 years whichever is earlier.
Nothing contained in clause (1) and clause (2) shall affect the right of the
competent authority to retire an employee without notice or pay in lieu thereof
on his being certified by a medial examiner to be nominated for the purpose by
such authority as being incapacitated for a further period of continuous
service due to his continued illness and accident.
employee may be permitted to retire at his own request if the competent
authority is satisfied that such an employee is incapacitated for a further
period of continuous service due to his continued illness and accident.
that before acting under this clause it shall be open to such authority to
require the employees to undergo a medical examination by such medical examiner
it may nominate for this purpose.
Notwithstanding the provision under para 2 above, the Corporation employees who
have satisfactory service record of 20 years may also seek retirement from the
service of the Corporation after giving three months notice in writing to the
appropriate authority. Persons under suspension would not be retired under this
clauses unless proceedings of the case against them are
finalized............" Clause (2) of the Bye-law inter-alia provides for
voluntary retirement from service of HPMC on completion of 25 years service or
on attaining the age of 50 years whichever is earlier. The employee, however,
has a right to make a request in that behalf and his request would become
effective only if he is 'permitted' to retire. The words "may
be......permitted at his request" clearly indicate that the said clause
does not confer on the employee a right to retire on completion of either 25
years service or on attaining the age of 50 years. It confers on the employee a
right to make a request to permit him to retire. Obviously, if request is not
accepted and permission is not granted the employee will not able to retire as
desired by him. Para (5) of the Bye-law is in the nature of an exception to para
(2) and permits the employee who has not completed 25 years service or has
attained 50 years of age to seek retirement if he has completed 20 years
satisfactory service. He can do so by giving three months' notice in writing.
The contention of the learned counsel for HPMC was that though Para 5 of the
Bye-law relaxes the conditions prescribed by Para 5 of the Bye-law relaxes the
conditions prescribed by Para 2, the relaxation is only with respect to the
period of service and attainment of age of 50 years and it cannot be read to
mean that the requirement of permission is dispensed with.
other hand, the learned counsel for the respondent submitted that as Para 5 opens with the words "Notwithstanding the
provision under para 2" and the words "may be ........ permitted at
his request" are absent that would mean that the employee has a right to
retire after giving three months' notice and no acceptance of such a request is
necessary. We cannot agree with the interpretation canvassed by learned counsel
or the respondent. The Bye-law had to be read as a whole. Para 2 thereof
confers a right on the employee to request for voluntary retirement on
completion of 25 years service or on attaining the age of 50 years, but his
desire would materialize only if he is permitted to retire and not otherwise.
Ordinarily, in a matter like this an employee who has put in less number of
years of service would not be on a better footing than the employee who has put
in longer service. It could not have been the intention of the rule- making
authority while framing para 5 of the Bye-law to confer on such an employee a
better and a larger right to retire after giving three months' notice in
writing. The words "seek retirement" in para 5 indicate that the
right which is conferred by it is not the right to retire but a right to ask
for retirement. The word "seek" implies a request by the employee and
corresponding acceptance or permission by HPMC. Therefore, there cannot be
automatic retirement or shaping of service relationship on expiry of three
Tribunal also failed to appreciate that the following observations made by the
Andhra High Court in Gummadi Sri Krishna Murthy vs. The District Educational
Officer, Guntur and others 1990 SLJ 91:
the facts of this case, we are of the view that the rules above-mentioned
intended that the employee has to give advance notice to the employer so that
the latter could make necessary arrangements for employing some other person.
It was also the intention of the rules that this privilege given to the
employer could not be exercised beyond a reasonable period here fixed as three
months for the employee should equally know where hesitant. For example, the
employee might have opted to retire because of offers of employment elsewhere
or he might wish to make some other arrangement in regard to his own affairs.
In such a situation, the employer could not be given a unilateral right to
communicate his acceptance or otherwise at his own sweet will and without any
limitation as to time............" were by way of justification of rule
which provided that "Provided that the competent authority shall issue an
order before the expiry of the notice period accepting or rejecting the
notice." The High Court has not laid down a general proposition of law
that when an employee seeks voluntary retirement the employer has to exercise
his privilege of accepting or rejecting the request within a reasonable time
and if a period is fixed for giving a notice in that behalf then the decision
has to be taken within the period so fixed.
are, therefore, of the opinion that the Tribunal was wrong in holding that
under after giving Bye-law the employee has a right to retire after giving
three months' notice and that the respondent stood retired with effect from
February 26, 1991 on expiry of three months' notice period as the respondent's
request for retirement was not rejected within that period. We, therefore,
allow this appeal and set aside the order passed by the Tribunal. It will be
open to the appellant to proceed further with the proposed enquiry if it is
otherwise expedient and permissible to do so. However, in view of the facts and
circumstances of the case there shall be no order as to costs.