Madras HC | Order of compulsory retirement is neither a punishment nor a stigma and principles of natural justice have no role play in ordering compulsory retirement

Madras High Court: The Division Bench of R. Subbhiah and T. Krishnavalli, JJ., dismissed a writ petition filed for issuance of a Writ of Certiorarified Mandamus.

The present writ petition was filed by a former Chief Judicial Magistrate calling for records relating to the proceedings of the first and second respondent and quashing the same by directing to reinstate him as Chief Judicial Magistrate, Tiruvannamalai.

Facts of the Case:

Petitioner was appointed as Civil Judge in Tamil Nadu State Judicial Service. During the course of service, the petitioner was transferred and posted at various places. While the petitioner was in Judicial Service, by a Memorandum by the second respondent he was informed that while recording the Annual Confidential Report as Judicial Magistrate No. III for the period from 02-05-2012 to 16-10-2012, High Court has recorded his reputation as to honesty, integrity and impartiality as ‘not satisfactory’ and under special remarks column, it was stated that “officer is to avoid close contact with Advocates”.

On receipt of the above-stated memorandum, the petitioner made a representation requesting the High Court to review and expunge the said adverse remarks. Later, the second respondent informed the petitioner that on consideration of his representation High Court had expunged the remarks.

Petitioner through the “Times of India report” came to know that he had been sent out of service at the age of 50 years for misconduct pursuant to a resolution passed by the Full Court.

On being aware of the same, the petitioner made another representation to the second respondent stating that he had worked as a Judicial Officer in several districts for more than 18 years without any allegations and he has also reached the norms by the High Court. Petitioner had enclosed his work statement along with the representation and requestedthe second respondent to permit him to continue in service.

Administrative Committee of the High Court resolved to continue the services of the Judicial Officer subject to the approval of the Full Court. Though, full-court unanimously resolved not to extend the service of the petitioner with direction to the Registry to address the State Government to issue necessary orders.

First respondent passed the order compulsorily retiring the petitioner from service in “public interest”.

Thus, the orders passed by the respondents are under challenge in the present writ petition.

Senior Counsel representing the petitioner submitted that there are various factors that contribute to a Judicial Officer not being able to achieve the norms for a certain period and that by itself is not a ground to compulsorily retire Judicial Officer. The impugned orders are passed based on total non-application of mind and there is an error of jurisdiction.

Sum and substance of the contentions urged by the learned Senior Counsel appearing for the petitioner are as follows:

  • The necessary ingredients under FR.56(2) for resorting to compulsory retirement are totally absent in the present case, since, in the Minutes of the Full Court meeting held on 19.03.2018, the words “compulsory retirement”, “is of the opinion” and “in public interest”, are not found.
  • Compulsory retirement passed against the petitioner is not based on the subjective satisfaction of the Full Court, since there are no records to show that the work done statements and ACRs of the petitioner were placed or there were any deliberations said to have been made. Moreover, there is no reference with regard to the Resolution of the Administrative Committee also.
  • Impugned order is based on no materials to support the ultimate conclusion.

High Court’s observation and conclusion

Court stated that the “work done statement” of the petitioner it was clear that the petitioner had not reached norms for a certain period. Therefore, it cannot be said that the decision taken by the Full Court is without any materials.

Another submission of the Senior Counsel for the petitioner that in the Minutes of the meeting of the Full Court, words “compulsory retirement” is of the opinion and “in public interest” were not found, which would show that the necessary ingredients for resorting to compulsory retirement are totally absent in the present case. In respect to this, Court was of the opinion that since such words were not mentioned in the impugned G.O. of the first respondent or the order passed by the second respondent, it will not ipso facto render the orders, which are impugned in this writ petition, vitiated.

“It is well settled that the order of compulsory retirement is neither a punishment nor a stigma and the principles of natural justice have no role play in ordering compulsory retirement.”

High Court stated that,

The conclusion arrived at by the respondents to compulsorily retire the petitioner from service cannot be interfered with by this Court, unless such a conclusion is based on no evidence or irrelevant material.

Court relied on the High Court of Judicature at Bombay v. Udaysingh, (1997) 5 SCC 129, wherein the scope of the Court in regard to Judicial Review of cases was discussed.

Hence, the Court held that it has no power to interfere with the decision taken by the respondents and to substitute its own conclusion.

Court added to its conclusion that,

“There are evidences made available against the petitioner based on which the respondents have come to a conclusion to compulsory retire the petitioner from service in the form of service particulars of the petitioner like ACR, work done statement, vigilance enquiry report, leave particulars etc. While so, it cannot be again said that there are no material at all for the respondents to arrive at a conclusion to pass the order of compulsory retirement against the petitioner.”

Thus the Court dismissed the petition in view of the above reasons. [R. Naraja v. State of Tamil Nadu, 2019 SCC OnLine Mad 9120, decided on 05-11-2019]

One comment

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    The allegation against me is only not reaching the disposal norms (targets) for few months (para 17 of Judgment). There is no adverse remarks in ACR and Vigilence particulars even as per the Judgment. As per the judgment the High court stated that Full Court decision cannot be interfered by the High court (para 20 of the Judgment). As per 56(2) of the Fundamental Rules every judicial officer will be reviewed at the age of 50 and 55 years for compulsory retirement. I am preparing to file SLP before the Supreme Court. I have not reached the norms only during the months of Advocates boycott, court holidays and transfer periods. No action was taken for other judicial officers who have not reached norms. I have not misconducted.I have been victimised arbitrarily. It is unfortunate that law will be implemented strictly only to the poor, who do not have political support, who do not have caste support. The petitioners stand is that the word compulsory retirement and public interest was not stated by full court, but the Judges understood as those words are not stated in the GO (para 18 of judgment). Finally, no justice to the Judges.

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