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Appropriate Authorities Cannot Function Dehors of Any Rules and Regulations: Uttarakhand High Court

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The petitioner was appointed as Patwari (the Revenue Sub Inspector). As per the Recruitment and Promotion Rules, the promotional post of Patwari is Kanoongo (Revenue Inspector). On 07.11.2019, the petitioner was directed to join the training of Kanoongo. He was relieved by the District Magistrate on 18.11.2019 for joining the training, which he joined at the Training Centre, Almora. The training was for three months, which came to an end on 15.02.2020. The petitioner stated that pursuant to the Government Order dated 20.02.2020 and 24.07.2019, a Screening Committee was constituted, which on 18.11.2019, in paragraph 8 of its report, considered the case of the petitioner and recommended that the petitioner should not be compulsorily retired and he should be allowed to continue beyond 50 years. However, on 17.01.2020, the petitioner was compulsorily retired without giving him any notice.

Arguments before the Court

The counsel for the petitioner submitted that on 07.11.2019, the petitioner was recommended for training for his promotion and he joined the training. The Screening Committee considered the case of the petitioner, examined the entire service records as well as the report of Sub Divisional Magistrate dated 09.09.2019 and recommended that the petitioner should not be compulsorily retired and should be allowed to continue. However, it was argued that just within the next two months, the case of the petitioner was again considered and he had been compulsorily retired, which is not permissible according to law. Counsel also submitted that in its meeting dated 18.11.2019, the Screening Committee had considered the entire service record of the petitioner and recommended him for continuance beyond 50 years. Thereafter, he could have been assessed after one year. But reviewing the case in January 2020, impropriety had been done by the respondent State, which requires to be rectified by quashing the impugned order. 

The counsel for the State submitted that the entire exercise is not mala fide or arbitrary. The service record had been examined before passing the impugned order. The provision of compulsory retirement is contained in the Financial Handbook Volume-II, Part II-IV. A bare perusal of Rule 56, reveals that the appropriate authority has the absolute right to retire any Government servant in the public interest.

Court’s Observation

The Court observed that the settled position of law is that the decision of the appropriate authority should not be easily interfered with or put to challenge unless it is arbitrary, mala fide, biased etc. It is an executive function, but then the procedure and decision-making process are always subject to judicial review. The procedure has to be followed as it is a matter of putting an end to the employment of the employee, who had served the State. The petitioner had stated that his case was considered on 18.11.2019 and the Committee had recommended his continuation and also opined that it is not a fit for compulsory retirement. This decision was approved by the District Magistrate. In their counter-affidavit, the State had no specific denial to it. The minutes of the Screening Committee dated 10.01.2020 had been filed by the State along with its counter-affidavit. It recorded that the adverse confidential remarks 1998-1999, 2003-2004, 2004-2005 and 2007-2008 as well as the report of the Sub Divisional Magistrate dated 09.09.2019 was also considered and thereafter, the Screening Committee concluded that the petitioner should not be compulsorily retired. The court observed that these proceedings are not denied. The court found that the respondent State in its counter affidavit had stated that the petitioner completed 50 years of age on 31.10.2019. His case was reviewed by the Screening Committee on 18.11.2019 and while doing so, the report of Sub Divisional Magistrate dated 09.09.2019 was considered along with ACRs for the year 1998-1999, 2003-2004, 2004-2005 and 2007-2008.

Court’s Decision

The Court found that in view of the Government order dated 20.02.2002, after one year again the case of the petitioner could have been considered by the Screening Committee, but it was considered just after two months on 10.01.2002. It was not provided under any Rules or any guidelines. The Government Order dated 20.02.2002 does not provide for it. There was no answer by the State Government to the question regarding how the review was done just after two months. The Court found that it is procedural impropriety and it vitiates the decision. Thus, the Court is of the view that the impugned order was bad and it deserved to be set aside and the present writ petition was allowed.

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