Delhi High Court: Opining that an order of compulsory retirement is not a punishment, nor it attaches any stigma to an employee, Division Bench of D.N. Patel, CJ and V. Kameswar Rao, J., expressed that,

Fundamental source of compulsorily retiring an employee of the Government is derived from “Doctrine of Pleasure” which springs from Article 310 of the Constitution of India.

If any employee of the Union of India has succeeded in litigation(s) that does not mean that looking to the overall service record of the employee, after certain age as per rules, he cannot be retired by the Union of India. It ought to be kept in mind that compulsory retirement is a subjective satisfaction which has been formed on the basis of the entire service record.

Reason for filing the petition

Instant petition was preferred by the Original Applicant against the decision of Central Administrative Tribunal as well as the order passed by the respondents.

Petitioner was compulsorily retired under Rule 56(j) of the Fundamental Rules by respondents.

Tribunal did not interfere with the order, hence the applicant preferred the present petition under Article 226 and 227 of the Constitution of India.


Petitioner was an officer of the 1985 batch of the Indian Revenue Service (IRS). In exercise of powers under Rule 56(j) of Fundamental Rules, respondents compulsorily retired the Petitioner.

Subjective satisfaction was arrived at by the Review Committee and a recommendation was made for compulsory retirement of the petitioner in public interest which was accepted by Union of India and the petitioner was made compulsorily retired in the public interest.

In view of the above recommendation, Centre passed an order of compulsory retirement in public interest of the petitioner.

Analysis, Law Decision

High Court expressed that, it ought to be kept in mind that order of compulsory retirement under Rule 56(j) of Fundamental Rules is absolutely a separate, distinct exercise under Rule 56(j) of Fundamental Rules and an independent decision has been arrived at by the Union of India through the recommendation of the Review Committee.

Bench noted that the subjective satisfaction of the Government in public interest, arrived at after considering the entire service record of the petitioner, where principal of natural justice was not required to be observed while passing an order of compulsory retirement because order of compulsory retirement does not amount to punishment.

Supreme Court’s decision in Baikuntha Nath Das v. Chief District Medical Officer, (1992) 2 SCC 299 was also referred.

Compulsory Retirement

Compulsory retirement involves no civil consequences. The Government servant does not loose any of the rights acquired by him before retirement while a minimum service is granted to the Government Servant, the Government is given power to energize its machinery and make more efficient by compulsory retiring those who in its opinion should not continue in the service of the Government in the interest of public.

 In the decision of Supreme Court in Union of India v. Col. J.N. Sinha, (1970) 2 SCC 458, it was observed that:

“Fundamental Rule 56(i) in terms does not require that any opportunity should be given to the concerned government servant to show cause against his compulsory retirement. A government servant serving under the Union of India holds his office at the pleasure of the President as provided in Article 310 of the Constitution. But this ―pleasure‖ doctrine is subject to the rules or law made under Article 309 as well as to the conditions prescribed under Article 311. Rules of natural justice are not embodied rules nor can they be elevated to the position of fundamental rights.”

Bench noted that the validity of Rule 56(j) of Fundamental Rules had already been upheld by the Supreme Court in T.G. Shivacharana Singh v. State of Mysore, AIR 1965 SC 280. It was held that a Government Servant serving under the Union of India holds office at the pleasure of the President of India as provided under Article 310 of the Constitution of India.

In the above decision, it was stated that compulsory retirement is bound to have some adverse effect on the Government servant who is compulsorily retired but the rule provides that such retirements can be made only after the officer attains a prescribed age.

In the present matter, it was noted that CBI had registered two cases against the petitioner and charge sheets were filed in both the criminal cases.

Court pointed that in 34 years span of his career, for 20 years, petition has been busy in litigation with the respondents. Petitioner’s conduct has shaken off the confidence of the respondents to post him on public posts which involved public dealing.

Petitioner also failed in writing of ACR/APAR which is a public trust and responsibility. In view of the said, Bench opined that the petitioner developed a tendency of not following Government instructions of writing APARs.

Review Committee concluded that conduct of the Petitioner was such that his continuance in service would be a menace to public service and injurious to public interest.

The conduct of the Petitioner was unbecoming of a public servant and obstructs efficiency in public services.

 Adding to the above analysis, Court stated that if the employer – Union of India is of the opinion that no useful purpose will be served by continuing an employee into the services of the Union of India, in the public interest such an employee can be made compulsorily retired.

  • Compulsory retirement can be passed looking to the overall service record of the Government employee.
  • It can also be passed in public interest with a view to improve efficiency of the administration or to weed out people of doubtful integrity or corrupt employee but sufficient evidence was not available to take disciplinary action in accordance with the rules, so as to inculcate a sense of discipline in the services.

Scope of Judicial Review

High Court while noting the aspect of judicial review stated that the scope of the same is very limited in cases of compulsory retirement. Only on limited grounds such as non-application of mind or malafide, the compulsory retirement order can be challenged.

Principles enunciated by the Supreme Court in Pyare Mohan Lal v. State of Jharkhand, (2010) 10 SCC 693, were to be kept in mind, said the High Court.

While concluding the matter, Bench stated that there were some serious allegations against the petitioner of corruption and of disproportionate assets including CBI cases for which sanction was given for prosecution and the SLPs were pending before the Supreme Court.

Even if the employee has succeeded in one or two cases or in few cases against the Central Government, that does not make him “compulsory retirement proof” employee.

 “…even if the promotion has been granted to a Government employee he can be made compulsory retired under Rule 56(j) of Fundamental Rules. In the facts of the present case order under Rule 56(j) of Fundamental Rules has been passed before grant of promotion to the Petitioner.

Upholding the decision of the Tribunal, present petition was dismissed. [Ashok Kumar Aggarwal v. Union of India, 2021 SCC OnLine Del 4453, decided on 22-09-2021]

Advocates before the Court:

For the petitioner:  Mr. Vikas Singh, Senior Advocate with Mr. Varun Singh, Ms. Deepeika Kalia, Mr. Kapish Seth, Mr. Mrityunjay Singh, Mr. Akshay Dev, Ms. Alankriti Dwivedi and Ms. Samruddhi Bendbhar, Advocates

For the respondent: Mr. Tushar Mehta, Solicitor General of India with Mr. Zoheb Hossain, Senior Standing Counsel, Mr. Ravi Prakash, Central Government Standing Counsel and Mr. Farman Ali, Advocate


  • The issue of premature retirement has been raised for consideration before the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the 2nd national judicial pay commission matter and it is pending. The committee has felt the need to reconsider the earlier decisions as it felt that in the recent past, the power to retire compulsorily has been widely used in the judiciary by the High Courts. A table of premature retirement in the subordinate judiciary was also drawn in the said recommendations. Though compulsory retirement is not a punishment, it would cast a stigma on the government servant and bar him from his future employment at least for a period of 10 years if it is invoked at 50 years. At present judicial review on compulsory retirement is very limited. A detailed guideline to invoke such power is necessary and expected from the Hon’ble Supreme Court at least in the said pending matter.

  • On what basis an employee is dismissed. Cant he have recourse.

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