Delhi High Court has held that an application for voluntary retirement is an offer by the employee and anytime before its acceptance, the employee would be entitled to withdraw the same.
In the present case, the Petitioner had filed a request for voluntary retirement after completing 24 years of service, however, she subsequently withdrew her request within a week of fling it.
Despite the withdrawal, the Respondent company passed an order mentioning that her withdrawal letter was considered favourably by the competent authority and she has been relieved off her services.
She moved the High Court under Article 226 of the Constitution claiming that her request for voluntary retirement had been made on account of the grave mental and physical stress caused by her brother‟s hospitalisation. Thereafter, she was informed of her brother's improved health and subsequent discharge from the hospital, in light of which, she asked for a withdrawal of her request.
The Respondent company in its counter affidavit had submitted that after Petitioner's request from retirement was accepted by the competent authority, a Board Resolution was passed reallocating her work among other employees and the same was also communicated to the Petitioner. It is only after getting to know about the said resolution, that she had filed her request for withdrawal.
Mr M.K. Bhardwaj, appearing for the Petitioner, argued that paragraph 33(2)(v) of the Regulations clearly stipulates that an employee who has elected to retire voluntarily, can seek withdrawal of his application for voluntary retirement.
Moreover, her placed reliance on Supreme Court's judgment in Balram Gupta v. Union of India & Anr. to argue that once the Petitioner' offer to retire and her withdrawal of the said offer happened in such quick succession, there was absolutely no reason as to why the said withdrawal should not have been accepted.
Mr Prashanto Sen, appearing on behalf of the Respondent company, countered the claims of Petitioner by arguing that all the judgments cited by Mr Bhardwaj doesn't apply to the present case as the Petitioner was not a regular employee but a contractual one. Moreover, she deliberately concealed the fact that she had knowledge about the acceptance of her request and was not very transparent in her conduct.
It was also argued my Mr Sen that paragraph 33(2)(v) of the Regulations permits withdrawal only of a request for voluntary retirement made under paragraph 33(2)(ii) and not of a request made under paragraph 33(2)(i). The Petitioner had submitted her application under paragraph 33(2)(i) and was, therefore, not entitled to seek withdrawal thereof under paragraph 33(2)(v) of the Regulations.
The court accepted Petitioner's claim by observing that nothing was submitted by the Respondent to show that the Board Resolution regarding acceptance of Petitioner's voluntary retirement was actually communicated to her. This violates Paragraph 33(2)(iii) which stipulates that no decision on retirement becomes operative if it's not communicated to the employee before the expiry period.
The court also rejected the claim of Respondent company regarding the Petitioner being a contractual employee and not a regular one, by noting that the present petition was moved not for breach of contract but as a writ to challenge a decision of a government undertaking. Moreover, the Respondent cannot be permitted to act arbitrarily in contravention of its own Regulations or to ignore the settled legal position that an employee can be permitted to withdraw their request for voluntary retirement, as long as the request for withdrawal is made before the date on which such retirement was to become effective.