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If a mandatory retirement order is shown to be punitive and was made in order to avoid disciplinary action, it may be overturned: Supreme Court

Symbol of law and justice in the empty courtroom, law and justice concept.

Issue- The Supreme Court overturned a decision made by the Central Board of Direct Taxes, Department of Revenue, Ministry of Finance, Government of India, which communicated the President’s order to compulsorily retire a Gazetted Officer who was being considered for appointment as a Member (Accountant) of the ITAT.

Facts of the case- The appellant, an Indian Army Permanent Commissioned Officer enlisted in 1980, was discharged from duty due to a physical ailment he had experienced. He took the 1989 Civil Services Test and was hired as an officer in the Indian Revenue Service. He attained the post of Commissioner in the Department of Income Tax before being nominated to become a member of ITAT.

Arguments- The Court took note of the fact that even though the Union Government was aware of the allegations, the appellant’s service record did not deny them; rather, it was entirely spotless. The Court did not find any meaningful evidence in the record to support his compulsive retirement.

Reasoning- The Court cited Rule 56(j) of the Basic Rules in stating that the Government has the complete authority to retire an employee if it is in the public interest. A minimum of three months’ notice must be given to the departing employee, and the mandatory retirement clause can only be used after the relevant officer has reached the age of 50. 

There is no question that the rule of law is the basic cornerstone of a well-governed society, and the existence of prejudice or malfeasance in the governance system would undermine the very principles of a regulated social order.

Judgement- The Chairperson was not named as a party in the proceedings before the Tribunal or the High Court, and as a result, the Apex Court is unable to investigate the allegations made against them.

Provisions used in the case- Rule 56(j) of the Basic Rules

Case title- Captain Pramod Kumar Bajaj v. Union of India And Anr.

Written By- Nikita Shankar

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