National Bank Vs. K. C. Chopra & ANR  INSC 615 (24 July 1997)
V. MANOHAR, M. JAGANNADHA RAO
O R D
E R The respondent was the Assistant Director in the Small Industries
Development Organisation. Government of India at the material time. He went on deputation on 10.3.1970 to the
appellant-Bank. On the expiry of the period of deputation, he was absorbed in
the permanent service of the appellant- Bank with effect from 10.3.1972. The
letter of 16.3.1972 issued by the appellant-Bank sets out that he has been
absorbed in the permanent service of the Bank in the category of Officer Grade
'B' with effect from 10.3.1972.
2 of this letter states that the Bank reserves the right to revise the rules
relating to the officers and their conditions of service from time to time. The
Government of India, Ministry of Industry and Civil Supplies by its letter
dated 12.5.1975 conveyed the sanction of the President to the permanent
absorption of the respondent in public interest in the service of the
appellant-Bank with effect from 10.3.1972. On his permanent absorption, the
eligibility of the respondent to pension/gratuity from the Government was also
spelt out in the letter of sanction. The letter of sanction inter alia, also
stated that, from the date of permanent absorption, the respondent will be
entitled to all the benefits admissible to corresponding employees of the Bank
and he will continue to be governed by the Rules of the appellant-Bank in all
1979, the Government of India issued certain guidelines relating to the service
conditions of employees of National Banks pursuant to which the appellant-Bank
framed Punjab National Bank (Officers) Service Regulations, 1979. Under these
Regulations, it was provided as follows:
An officer employee of the Bank recruited/promoted prior to 19th July, 1969 shall retire on completion of 60
years of age.
officer employee of the Bank recruited prior to 19th July, 1969 but promoted as an officer on or after 19th July, 1966 shall retire on completion of 60
years of age.
officer employee of the Bank recruited as an award staff or an officer employee
on or after 19th July,
1969 shall retire on
completion of 58 years of age." The reference to the date 19.7.196 in
these Regulations is to the date of nationalisation of the appellant-Bank.
to nationalisation of the appellant-Bank, its own service regulations
prescribed for its officer employees retirement at the age of 50. After nationalisation,
as per Government guidelines, the new regulations prescribed the retirement age
of 58 years for officer employees. Hence the Regulations provide that officer
employees who were recruited prior to nationalisation shall retire on
completion of 60 years of age while the officer employees of the Bank who were
employed after 19.7.1969 shall retire on completion of 58 years of age. Since
the respondent was absorbed in the service of the appellant-Bank on 10.3.1972,
he was retired at the age of 58 years with effect from 30.4.1990 since he completed
58 years on 7.4.1990.
seems that in the case of one H. C. Nakra who was originally in the employment
of the State Trading Corporation but had later joined the appellant-Bank, on a
representation made to the Ministry of Finance, it was decided that since both
the State Trading Corporation as well as the appellant-Bank had treated Nakra's
appointment in the Bank as a case of lateral transfer rather than as fresh
recruitment he should be given the benefit of retirement at the age of 60. The
sanction of the Finance Ministry refers to various considerations. At the time
of transfer the then existing age of retirement age was 60 years. This might
have been one of the important factors which had attracted the officer to a
posting in the appellant-Bank. As a special case, it was decided that Nakra
would retire at the age of 60 years. The letter of sanction dated 8.4.1980 from
the Ministry of Finance, Department of Economic Affairs is on record. It is
very clearly stated in the letter of sanction that this decision is applicable
only in the case of Shri Nakra on the special facts of his case and is not
intended to be of general application.
strenuously contended by learned counsel for the respondent that since the
respondent is similarly situated as Nakra, he should be given the benefit of
retirement at the age of 60 years. He has pointed out that some of the factors
which are set out in the Finance Ministry's letter of sanction relating to Shri
Nakra are common to his case as well as to the case of Nakra. But there is one
important difference. In the case of Shri Nakra both the State Trading
Corporation (his previous employer) as well as the appellant-Bank had agreed to
treat Nakra's appointment as a case of lateral transfer while in the case of
the respondent there is no such agreement. On the contrary, the case of the
respondent is clearly a case of absorption in the appellant- Bank with effect
the letter of sanction in the case of Nakra clearly sets out that the case of Nakra
was to be treated as a special case and not as a matter of general application.
not required to consider the merits or demerits of this benefit which was
conferred on Nakra. What we have to examine is whether looking to the
Regulations of the appellant-Bank, the respondent can claim that despite these
regulations, and in violation of what they prescribe, he should be treated in
the same manner as Nakra. Article 14 cannot be applied to a situation where its
benefit as claimed, would be contrary to law. The respondent was not an
employee of the appellant-Bank prior to 19.7.1969. He cannot claim the benefit
of retirement at the age of 60 years. The letter of appointment which was
issued by the Bank to the respondent quite clearly shows that he was absorbed
as an employee of the Bank with effect from 10.3.1982. All the Rules and
Regulations of the appellant-Bank became applicable to the respondent from
10.3.1972. He cannot, therefore, be considered as an employee officer of the
Bank recruited prior to 19.7.1969.
also contended by learned counsel for the respondent that the case of the
respondent is outside the service regulations because he cannot be considered
as an officer employees of the Bank recruited after 19.7.1969.
contention has to be stated to be rejected. His links with his previous
employer were severed on absorption and he became an employee of the bank only
High Court, in our view was not right in giving the benefit of the retirement
age of 60 years to the respondent on the basis of Nakra's case. Another
Division Bench of the same High Court. In the case of K. K. Tandon vs. Punjab
National Bank & Ors. (C. W. No 2293/90) by its judgment dated August 28,
1990 had refused to extend similar benefits to the petitioner before it on the
ground inter alia, that Nakra's case was treated as a special case. The Special
Leave Petition from this judgment was also dismissed by this Court.
very sanction letter in the case of Nakra on which strong reliance is placed by
the respondent, in terms, states that the decision in Nakra's case is available
only to him and is not intended to be of general application.
therefore, cannot claim the same benefit on the basis of that decision specially
when giving that benefit would be contrary to and in the teeth of the service
regulations applicable to the employee.
appeal is, therefore, allowed. The impugned Judgment of the High Court is set
aside. There shall be no order as to costs.