Constitution of India, 1950 – Art. 310, Art. 311, Art. 311(2) – Fundamental Rule 56(j)
service matter – Compulsory retirement – At fag end of the career – Set aside. Held, though FR 56(j) contemplates that the respondents have an absolute right to retire a government servant in public interest and such an order could have been passed against the appellant any time after he had attained the age of fifty years, the respondents did not take any such decision till the very fag end of his career. The impugned order of compulsory retirement was passed in this case on 27th September, 2019 whereas the appellant was to superannuate in ordinary course in January, 2020. There appears an apparent contradiction in the approach of the respondents who had till as late as in July, 2019 continued to grade the appellant as ‘Outstanding' and had assessed his integrity as ‘Beyond doubt'. But in less than three months reckoned therefrom, the respondents had turned turtle to arrive at the conclusion that he deserved to be compulsorily retired. If the appellant was worthy of being continued in service for little short of a decade after he had attained the age of 50 years and of being granted an overall grade of 9 on the scale of 1 – 10 on 31st July, 2019 it has not been shown as to what had transpired thereafter that made the respondents resort to FR 56(j) and invoke the public interest doctrine to compulsorily retire him with just three months of service left for his retirement, in routine. In such a case, this Court is inclined to pierce the smoke screen and on doing so, we are of the firm view that the order of compulsory retirement in the given facts and circumstances of the case cannot be sustained. The said order is punitive in nature and was passed to short-circuit the disciplinary proceedings pending against the appellant and ensure his immediate removal. The impugned order passed by the respondents does not pass muster as it fails to satisfy the underlying test of serving the interest of the public.