State of Punjab Vs. Gurdas Singh  INSC 194 (31 March 1998)
V. Manohar, S.P. Kurdukar, D.P. Wadhwa Wadhwa, J.
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 3668 OF 1991
are two cross appeals, both against two separate judgments of Punjab and Haryana High Court arising out
of a judgment of the Additional District Judge, Gurdaspur passed in appeal
filed by the State of Punjab and also by Gurdas Singh. The
judgment of the High Court in the appeal of the State of Punjab is dated January 25, 1991 and that in the appeal of Gurdas
Singh, it is dated March
3, 1991. Both the
appeals were dismissed by the High Court in limine.
Singh, respondent in Civil Appeal No. 2978 of 1991 was recruited as Constable
in 1961 in the Punjab Police. In 1976 he was promoted as Asstt. Sub-Inspector
and in 1984 as Sub-Inspector. By order dated September 3, 1987 of the Senior Superintendent of Police, passed in pursuance
to Rule 3(1) (b) of the Punjab Civil Services (Premature Retirement) Rules,
1975, he was prematurely retired from the service. At that time he was holding
substantive rank of Sub-Inspector of Police and had completed 25 years of
qualifying service as on February
3, 1986. This order
reads as under :- "office of the Senior Superintendent of Police, Gurdaspur
O R D
E R Whereas you, Shri Gurdas Singh Sub Inspector of Police No.1151/Jull of this
district, have completed 25 years qualifying service on 3.2.1986.
whereas on consideration of your record I am of the opinion that it is in
public interest to retire you from service prematurely.
Now, therefore, in pursuance of Rule 3(1) (b) of the Punjab Civil Services
(Premature Retirement) Rules, 1975 it is ordered that you will retire from
service with effect from 3rd September, 1987 afternoon.
are further informed that you will be entitled to claim a sum equivalent to the
amount of your pay and allowances at the same rates on which you are drawing
immediately before the date of retirement in lieu of three months notice
Sr. Superintendent of Police Gurdaspur 3.9.87" Gurdas Singh filed appeal
under the relevant service rules against the order prematurely retiring him
from service but the same was rejected by the Deputy Inspector General of
Police, Jalandhar Range, Jalandhar Cantt. by order dated November 18, 1987. The relevant portion of the order
in appeal reads as under :-
have considered his representation alongwith the premature retirement papers
and also examined his service record.
came to be adversely commented upon in his ACRs for the period from 1.4.78 to
30.9.78, 1.4.79 to 30.9.79, 18.6.84, to 30.9.84, and 18.6.84 to 31.3.95 by
different Reporting Officer for being dishonest and of shady character. I have
examined the pleas put forth by the representationist, which are not convincing
and are vague. I am satisfied that he was rightly retired prematurely. In view
of the above discussion, I hereby reject his representation." Thereafter Gurdas
Singh filed a civil suit on February 25, 1988
challenging his premature retirement from the service and for quashing the
orders dated September
3, 1987 and that dated
November 18, 1987 being illegal and void. The suit
was decreed in favour of Gurdas Singh by judgment dated June 14, 1989 of the subordinate Judge, 1st Class,
Gurdaspur. The State of Punjab appealed against that judgment and
decree. By Judgment dated August 10, 1990
Additional District Judge, Gurdaspur, dismissed the appeal.
however, held that Gurdas Singh, Plaintiff, has succeeded on ultra-technical point
on the failure of the defendants to produce proof of their having conveyed to
him two adverse entries. it was, therefore, directed that Gurdas Singh would
not get any arrears of pay w.e.f. September 3, 1987 to June
14, 1989 when his suit
was decreed by the trial court. Both the State of Punjab and Gurdas Singh filed appeals in
the High Court. While the appeal of the State of Punjab was dismissed by the impugned judgment dated January 25, 1991, that filed by Gurdas Singh was
dismissed by a judgment dated March 6, 1991.
State of Punjab is aggrieved that the order
prematurely retiring Gurdas Singh has been upset. Gurdas Singh is aggrieved
that he has been denied salary for a certain period.
grounds on which the order prematurely retiring Gurdas Singh was set aside was
that his record of service prior to his promotion to the rank of Sub-Inspector
that is earlier to the year 1984 could not been taken into account and that two
adverse entries in his confidential dossier record recorded after 1984 were not
communicated to him and those could not form basis for his premature
leave in the Special Leave Petition filed by the State of Punjab was granted on
July 19, 1991, this Court recorded as under :- "The learned counsel for
the petitioners strongly relies on the Reddy: 1980(1) SCR 736, while Mr. Ujagar
Singh refers to a later State of Punjab: 1987(2) SCR 583.
Leave is granted. Let the appeal be placed for hearing before a larger bench.
During the pendency of the appeal operation of the impugned order shall remain
stayed." Rule 3 of Punjab Civil Services (Premature Retirement) Rules,
1975 under which action was taken against Gurdas Singh and Rules 4 and 5 are as
under :- "3. Premature Retirement - (1)(a) The appropriate authority
shall, if it is of the opinion that it is in public interest to do so, have the
absolute right, by giving an employee prior notice in writing, to retire that
employee on the date on which he completes twenty-five years of qualifying
service or attains fifty years of age or on any date thereafter to be specified
in the notice.
The period of such notice shall not be less than three months :
that where at least three months' notice is not given or notice for a period
less than three months in given the employees shall be entitled to claim a sum
equivalent to the amount of his pay and allowances, at the same rates at which
he was drawing them immediately before the date of retirement, for a period of
three months or, as the case may be, for the period by which such notice falls
short of three months.
Any Government employee may, after giving at least three months' previous
notice in writing to the appropriate authority retire from service on the date
on which he completes twenty five years of qualifying service or attains fifty
years of age or on any date thereafter to be specified in the notice :
that no employee under suspension shall retire from service except with the
specific approval of the appropriate authority.
Retiring pension and gratuity - A retiring person and death-cum- retirement
gratuity shall be granted to a Government employee who retires or is required
to retire under rule 3.
Overriding effect - The provisions of these rules shall have effect
notwithstanding any thing inconsistent therewith contained in any other rules
for the time being in force." It will be thus seen that these Rules give
absolute right to retire any Government employee on the date on which he
completes twenty-five years of qualifying service or attains fifty years of age
or as on any date thereafter to be specified in the notice by giving that
employee prior notice of three months in writing. This right has to be
exercised if in the opinion of the appropriate authority it is in public
interest to retire any employee under the Rules.
learned counsel for the State of Punjab, submitted that primary anxiety of the
Government is, in the interest of administrative efficiency, to ensure that
dead wood or more precisely the inefficient and the corrupt element should be
weeded out from the service and it was with that end in view that Punjab Civil
Service (Premature Retirement) Rules, 1975 have been notified on July 28, 1975.
said action to retire Gurdas Singh in the present case has been taken judiciously
in order that public interest is really served by prematurely retiring him.
Whole of his record of service has been taken into consideration. Both the
appropriate authority retiring him and the appellate authority have applied
their mind in proper perspective. He said that the issue whether two adverse
entries after promotion of Gurdas Singh were communicated to him or not is not
very material in view of the law laid down by this Court.
Singh, learned counsel appearing for Gurdas Singh, submitted that it was
incumbent on the authorities concerned to communicate to Gurdas Singh any
adverse entry in his record of service as required by Rule 13.17 of the Punjab
Service Rules. Chapter XIII of the Punjab Service Rules deals with promotion.
In the present case we are not concerned with the rules relating to promotion
or communication of adverse entries in the confidential records of the police
officer. Rule 5 of Punjab Civil Services (Premature Retirement) Rules, 1975 has
overriding effect. we have only to see if action has been taken against Gurdas
Singh in accordance with Rule 3 of these Rules.
In Union of India vs. M.E.
Reddy and Anr. (1980 (1) SCR 736), respondent was compulsorily retired from
service by an order made under Rule 16(3) of the All India Services
(Death-cum-Retirement) Rules, 1958. This Rule reads as under:- "16(3) The
Central Government, in consultation with the State Government, may require a
member of the Service who has completed 30 years of qualifying service or who
has attained the age of 55 years to retire in the public interest provided that
at least there months' previous notice in writing will be given to the member
concerned." The Court noted that the Rule gave an absolute right to the
Government of India and not merely the discretion and, therefore, impliedly it
excludes the rules of natural justice. The Court then observed as under :-
"It is now well settled by a long catena of authorities of this Court that
compulsory retirement after the employee has put in a sufficient number of
years of service having qualified for full pension is neither a punishment nor
a stigma so as to attract the provisions of Art. 311 (2) of the Constitution.
In fact, after an employee has served for 25 to 30 years and is retired on full
pensionary benefits, it cannot be said that he suffers any real prejudice. The
object of the Rule is to weed out the dead wood in order to maintain a high
standard of efficiency and initiative in the State Service. It is not necessary
that a good officer may continue to be efficient for all times to come.
be that there may be some officers who may possess a better initiative and
higher standard of efficiency and if given chance the work of the Government
might show marked improvement. In such a case compulsory retirement of an
officer who fulfills the conditions of Rule 16 (3) is undoubtedly in public
interest and is not passed by way of punishment. Similarly, there may be cases
of officers who are corrupt or of doubtful integrity and who may be considered fit
for being compulsorily retired in public interest, since they have almost
reached the fag end of their career and their retirement would not cast any
aspersion nor does it entail any civil consequences. Or course, it may be said
that if such officers were allowed to continue they would have drawn their
salary until the usual date of retirement.
this is not an absolute right which can be claimed by an officer who has put in
30 years or service or has attained the age of 50 years. Thus the general impression
which is carried by most of the employees that compulsory retirement under
these conditions involves some sort of stigma must be completely removed
because rule 16(3) does nothing of the sort." This court also considered
the arguments of respondent that the order was based on material which was
non-existent inasmuch as there were no adverse remarks against him and if there
were any such remarks in his confidential reports it should have been
communicated to him under the Rules. The Court said :- "This argument, in
our opinion, appears to be based on a serious misconception. In the first
place, under the various rules on the subject it is not every adverse entry or
remarks that has to be communicated to the officer concerned. The superior
officer may make certain remarks while assessing the work and conduct of the
subordinate officer based on his personal supervision or contact. Some of these
remarks may be purely innocuous, or may be connected with general reputation of
honesty or integrity that a particular officer enjoys. It will indeed be
difficult if not impossible to prove by positive evidence that a particular
officer is dishonest but those who has had the opportunity to watch the
performance of the said officer from close quarters are in a position to know
the nature and character not only of his performance but also of the reputation
that he enjoys. The High Court has also laid great stress on the fact that as
adverse entries had not been communicated to Reddy, therefore, the order
impugned is illegal. We find ourselves unable to agree with the view taken by
the High court" In Brij Mohan Singh Chopra vs. State of Punjab (1987 (2) SCR 583), this Court
adopted a somewhat different approach. The judgment in the case of M.E. Reddy
was not noticed. In this case the Court held that it would be unjust and
contrary to the principles of natural justice to retire prematurely a
Government employee on the basis of adverse entries which were either not
communicated to him or if communicated, representation made against those
entries were not considered and disposed of. This judgment given by Two Judges
Bench has been expressly overruled by a Three Judges Bench judgment of this
Court in Baikuntha Nath Das and Anr. vs. Chief District Medical Officer, Baripada
and Anr. (1992 (2) SCC 299). The question for consideration before this Court
in this latter case was whether it was permissible to the Government to order
compulsory retirement of a Government servant on the basis of materials which
included uncommunicated adverse remarks. This Court considered various
judgments on the issue and laid the following principles :-
The following principles emerge from the above discussion :
order of compulsory retirement is not a punishment. It implies no stigma nor any
suggestion of mis behaviour.
The order has to be passed by 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.
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 this 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.
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 lose their sting, more so, if the promotion is based upon
merit (selection) and not upon seniority.
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
is permissible only on the grounds mentioned in (iii) above." Same view
was again affirmed in another Three Judges Bench judgment of this Court in Poss
and Telegraphe Board and Anr. vs. C.S.N. Murthy (1992 (2) SCC 317).
Union of India vs. V.P. Seth (AIR 1994 SC 1261), a decision to retire
respondent was taken on his completing fifty years of age and after perusing
his record of service.
challenged this order under Section 19 of the Administrative Tribunals Act,
1985 before the Central Administrative Tribunal, Jabalpur Bench. The Tribunal
set aside the order of premature retirement on the sole ground that certain
adverse remarks made in the Confidential Report of the respondent had not been
conveyed to him and yet they were taken into consideration in passing the
stand of the Union of India was that the entire record of service of the
respondent had been taken into consideration and it was realised that his
integrity was suspect and, therefore, decision was taken to compulsorily retire
him from service. This Court noticed that it would be clear that on overall
assessment of the officer his integrity was found to be suspect and, therefore,
it was decided to exercise the power of compulsory retirement. The Tribunal,
however, came to the conclusion that as the adverse remarks of 1985-86 and
1986-87 had not been communicated and as the earlier adverse remarks in
connection with the integrity of the respondent stood eclipsed by his
subsequent promotions, the authorities were not justified in terminating his
services by way of compulsory retirement. Relying on two decisions of this
Court in Baikund Nath Das and C.S.N. Murthy this Court observed that the
position of law has been settled and the order of the Tribunal could not be
sustained as the same runs counter to the principles laid down in the said two
facts in the present case are quite similar to that in Union of India vs. V.P.
Seth. Here also the only ground on which the order prematurely retiring Gurdas
Singh was set aside was that two adverse entries after his promotion from the
rank of Asstt. Sub-Inspector to sub-Inspector were not communicated to him and
earlier adverse entries could not be taken into account because even when those
existed Gurdas Singh had earned his promotion. It is not necessary for us to
again reiterate the principles where the Court will interfere in the order of
premature retirement of an employee as these have been accurately set down by
various pronouncements of this Court and particularly in Baikund Nath Das case.
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.
are, therefore, of the view that the suit filed by Gurdas Singh had no merit
and the issue whether order dated September 3, 1987 of his premature retirement and that dated November 18, 1987 dismissing the appeal as illegal
and void was wrongly decided in his favour. We, therefore, allow the appeal
filed by the State of Punjab and dismiss the suit filed by Gurdas
Singh. In consequence appeal filed by Gurdas Singh is also dismissed. There
shall be no order as to costs.