HP HC | Fixation of retirement age through government notification is an administrative action within the exclusive jurisdiction of State; not open to challenge in a court of law

Himachal Pradesh High Court: Tarlok Singh Chauhan J., dismissed petition finding no merits in it.

The facts of the case can be traced from an official memorandum i.e. ‘O.M.’ dated 29-03 2013 enhancing the retirement age of the Blind Government Employees from 58 years to 60 years which was withdrawn by the State vide office memorandum dated 4-11-2019 bringing the retirement age back to 58 years. Aggrieved against the withdrawal present petitions have been filed praying for its disposal in their favor.

Counsel Mr Subhash Mohan Snehi, Mr Sudhanshu Jamwal, Mr Sanjay Kumar Sharma, Mr Onkar Jairath, Mr Shubham Sood and Mr Bhim Raj Sharma represented the petitioners and Mr Ashok Sharma, Mr Vinod Thakur, Mr Ranjan Sharma, Mr Desh Raj Sharma and Ms Svaneel Jaswal represented the State i.e the respondents.

After hearing both the parties, the Court relied on judgment titled State of Uttar Pradesh v. Hirendra Pal Singh, (2011) 5 SCC 305 held that fixation of the retirement age falls within exclusive domain and competence of the State and that Courts should not interfere with such decision unless they were unconstitutional.

Relevant para reads:

    8. …………….. So far as the issue of reduction of age from 62

to 60 years is concerned, it has not been brought to the notice

of the High Court that it is within the exclusive domain of the

State Government to reduce the age even in Government

services. So in case of purely professional engagement, the age

could validly be reduced by the State Government

unilaterally.”

It was further observed by the Court that executive instructions to have the force of statutory rules, it must be shown that they have been issued either under the authority conferred on the State Government by some statute or under some provision of the constitution provides, therefore. In the instant case, the OMs in question has not been issued either under the authority conferred on the State Government by some statute or under some provision of the constitution, therefore, it has to be held in the nature of administrative instructions and not statutory rules. Hence petitioners have failed to prove that the OM’s are illegal and arbitrary.

In view of the above, OM stands valid, and the petition was dismissed. [Ses Ram v. State of H.P., 2020 SCC OnLine HP 1119, decided on 31-07-2020]

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