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Will Affect State Exchequer, Fresh Job Opportunities: Karnataka High Court Dismisses College Dean's Plea To Increase Retirement Age

Mustafa Plumber
8 Jun 2022 10:00 AM GMT
Karnataka High Court
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The Karnataka High Court has observed that fixation of retirement age of public servants has a direct bearing on the state exchequer as well as employment opportunities for others. In view thereof, it dismissed a writ petition filed by the former Dean of a College, seeking directions to the state government to continue his service upto the age of 65 years, instead of 62 years.

A division bench of Justice Krishna S Dixit and Justice P Kirshna Bhat observed,

"We are told at the Bar that there are thousands of employees in various Universities and in the constituent & affiliated Colleges. If the prayer, as sought for, is granted, all these employees would continue in the Office for an additional period of three years and eventually, there would be no vacancies for fresh appointments. This is not desirable. At what age the Public Servants like teachers in the Universities/constituent colleges should retire is purely within the domain of the State Executive, which bears the expenditure towards salary, emoluments and terminal benefits."

It added, "In matters like this, a host of financial & other factors enter the fray of decision making and Courts cannot readily venture interference therein, the worth of such factors not being assessable by judicially manageable standards...Whether it is prudent to retain old blood or to infuse fresh one is best left to the wisdom of the State Executive & the Universities."

Case details:

Dr. Chidanand P Mansur, former Dean of College of Agricultural Sciences at Hanumanamatti, had approached the High Court challenging Clause 30(8) of the University Statutes, 1964, which prescribes 62 years as the age of superannuation. He also sought a direction to continue in service till he attains the age of 65 years in terms of UGC Regulations, 2018 and the Central Government Order dated 02.11.2017.

Mansur banked upon the UGC Regulations, 2018, promulgated in terms of the 2017 recommendations made by the Pay Review Committee. In substance, he contended that after the 42nd Amendment, education figures in List-3, Schedule VII of the Constitution of India and therefore, the UGC Regulations, 2018 partaking the character of Central Law and override the impugned statute of the University, which is the State Law.

The government advocate contended the subject UGC Regulations do not mandatorily prescribe 65 years as the age of superannuation for the employees of Agricultural Universities established under the State Legislations; even in the UGC Pay Package, an option is given to these Universities to adopt the said age, if they so wish; and the respondent-University has prescribed 62 years as the age of retirement consistent with the Government Order dated 28.10.2009.

The counsel further contended age of retirement is a condition of service and is regulated by the provisions of the University Statutes which are promulgated under the provisions of State Enactment. In fact, UGC Regulations leave the prescription of retirement age to the will of the University and that being the position, the question of repugnancy between the Central Law and the State Law does not arise even remotely.

Findings:

Firstly, the court noted that the respondent-University is established under Section 3 of the University of Agricultural Sciences Act, 1963 (hereafter referred to as 'the State Act'). Section 39 of the State Act provides for promulgating Statutes regulating the service conditions of employees of the University of Agricultural Sciences. Accordingly, the Statutes having been made and resolution having been passed, the age of 62 years admittedly, has been prescribed as the age of superannuation, in terms of the Government Order dated 28.10.2009.

Further it said in terms of UGC recommendation, the Central Government vide order dated 31.12.2008 extended the benefits of Sixth Central Pay Commission Recommendation to the "Teachers in the Central Universities". One of these benefits is the enhanced age of retirement i.e 65 years. Therefore, these benefits did not extend to the employees of the State Universities which are different from the Central ones. A similar order was issued on 02.11.2017. It does not ipso facto extend to the employees of the State Universities and therefore, a committee was constituted to look into the matter.

The Committee at recommendation 12 recommends enhancement of the age of retirement from 62 years to 65. The bench observed, "A recommendation of the kind per se is not justiciable and therefore no support can be drawn from the same by the appellant/petitioner, as rightly contended by the learned Government Advocate and the Panel Counsel."

Rejecting the argument that the UGC Regulation and the University Statutes are in conflict with each other and therefore, the former being the Central Law would override the later which is a State Law.

The bench said, "The conflict can logically arise only if the Central Law is shown to impose a norm, with no option whatsoever. That is not the case here. The UGC Letters dated 30.01.2018 and 31.01.2018 although extend the benefit of 7th Central Pay Commission Report do not much say about the enhancement of age of retirement from 62 years to 65 as being obligatory qua the State Universities of the kind. When option is given by the Central Law as to the age of superannuation, it is open to the State Universities to prescribe the age of retirement for its employees, in variance."

Accordingly it dismissed the writ appeal. However, it clarified that this judgment shall not come in the way of the recommendation of the Committee of the University being expeditiously considered, by the quarters that be, in accordance with law.

Case Title: DR CHIDANANDA P MANSUR v. UNION OF INDIA & others

Case no: W.A. NO.100198/2022

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Kar) 196

Date of Order: 1ST DAY OF JUNE, 2022

Appearance: Senior Advocate LAXMINARAYANA, a/w Advocate ANUSHA L, Advocate G.I. GACHINAMATH for appellants

Click Here To Read/Download Judgment


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