26 Aug 2023 6:00 AM GMT
The Supreme Court has dismissed a petition filed by a group of teachers in Homeopathic Medical Colleges in Kerala seeking increase of their retirement age from 55 years to 60 years at par with the teachers of other Medical Colleges.The appellants approached the Supreme Court in 2010 challenging the refusal of the Kerala High Court to grant them relief. While the appeal was pending in the...
The Supreme Court has dismissed a petition filed by a group of teachers in Homeopathic Medical Colleges in Kerala seeking increase of their retirement age from 55 years to 60 years at par with the teachers of other Medical Colleges.
The appellants approached the Supreme Court in 2010 challenging the refusal of the Kerala High Court to grant them relief. While the appeal was pending in the Supreme Court, the Government of Kerala issued an order in April 2012 enhancing the age of superannuation of teaching staff in Homeopathic Colleges to 60 years. In the same year, the Government issued other orders enhancing the retirement age of teachers in Ayurvedic and Dental Colleges. Therefore, the appellants sought an alternate relief for retrospective application of the 2012 Government Order to them.
A bench comprising Justices Hima Kohli and Rajesh Bindal, in the judgment delivered on August 25, rejected both the reliefs sought by the appellants. The bench explained that the "the age of retirement is purely a policy matter that lies within the domain of the State Government".
"It is not for the courts to prescribe a different age of retirement from the one applicable to Government employees under the relevant service Rules and Regulations. Nor can the Court insist that once the State had taken a decision to issue a similar Government Order that would extend the age of retirement of the staff teaching in the Homeopathic Colleges...", the judgment authored by Justice Kohli said.
The bench referred to the 2021 decision of the Supreme Court in New Okhla Industrial Development Authority and Another vs. B.D. Singhal and Others which disapproved of a direction issued by the Allahabad High Court to enhance the age of superannuation of NOIDA employees, observing that it was purely a matter of State policy.
The bench also took into account the reasons assigned by the Government to increase the retirement age of other Medical Colleges- dearth of experienced staff.
The bench also refused to extend the benefit of retrospective application to the 2012 Government Order which increased the age of retirement of Homeopathic Medical Doctors.
"Such a decision lies exclusively within the domain of the Executive. It is for the State to take a call as to whether the circumstances demand that a decision be taken to extend the age of superannuation in respect of a set of employees or not. It must be assumed that the State would have weighed all the pros and cons before arriving at anydecision to grant extension of age",the Court said. It added that when a cut-off date is fixed, some employees would always be left out. But that alone would not make the decision bad.
Ground of legitimate expectation not available
The Court rejected the plea for retrospective application based on the Doctrine of Legitimate Expectation.
"The appellants herein cannot claim a vested right to apply the extended age of retirement to them retrospectively and assume that by virtue of the enhancement in age ordered by the State at a later date, they would be entitled to all the benefits including the monetary benefits flowing from G.O. dated 9th April, 2012, on the ground of legitimate expectation", it said.
Referring to the NOIDA judgment, the Court said that the doctrine of legitimate expectation cannot have a place when enhancement of the age of superannuation is“a public function” that is governed by the provisions of the Statute and the relevant service regulation.
Also Read - Retirement Age Can't Be Increased Based On Superannuation Age In Another Similar Post : Supreme Court
Case Title : Dr Prakasan MP and others v. State of Kerala and others
Citation : 2023 LiveLaw (SC) 708; 2023 INSC 772
Click here to read the judgment