Orissa High Court: A Division Bench of B P Routray and S. Muralidhar JJ. dismissed the petition being devoid of merits.

The instant petition was filed by the Petitioner, a Judicial Officer, challenging the order of compulsory retirement dated 23-08-2012 on attaining the age of 50 years in terms of Rule 44 of the OSJS and OJS Rules, 2007. He was an Officer in the cadre of Civil Judge and last worked as JMFC, Motu

Counsel for petitioners Mr. Manoj Kumar Mohanty submitted that absence of any adverse remark in the confidential report of the Petitioner touching on his integrity or about his inability to achieve the prescribed yardstick, the recommendation of the Full Court for his compulsory retirement is arbitrary

Counsel for respondents Mr. P K Muduli submitted that an overall assessment was made of the performance of the Petitioner during his entire service period and he was found unsuitable for being continued as such. It is also submitted that the scope of judicial review in matters of compulsory retirement is limited.

“Rule 44 of the OSJS and OJS Rules 2007 (hereinafter referred to as ‘2007 Rules’) authorizes the High Court to retire in public interest any member of the service who has attended the age of 50 years. Such consideration for all the Officers in service shall be made at least three times i.e., when he is about to attend the age of 50, 55 & 58 years.”

 The Court observed that the object of compulsory retirement is to weed out the dishonest, the corrupt and the deadwood. It is true that if an honest Judicial Officer is compulsorily retired it might lower the morale of his colleagues and other members in the service.

The Court observed that on a careful perusal of the record, it is seen that the Petitioner does not possess the standard efficiency required to discharge the duty of the post held by him. As per the notification of the State Government it is prescribed that it will not be in public interest to retain an employee in service, if he lacks in the standard of efficiency required to discharge the duties of the post he presently holds.

The Court further observed that on an overall assessment of the personal record of the Petitioner, the emerging picture is not favourable to him. During his service career spanning fourteen years and eight months, he was not able to get a ‘good’ grading for at least three consecutive years. He was earlier also let off with a warning to be careful in future. He was not found suitable either for promotion to the higher post or for getting higher pay in ACPII scale. His performance was often rated ‘average’. There have been allegations of his passing indiscriminate orders in particular cases or failing to maintain uniformity or consistency in passing judicial orders. Charges on the above score were framed against him in the departmental proceedings. The overall assessment of the Petitioner’s entire service carrier is that his performance failed to meet the expected standards of competency.

The Court held An overall consideration of all those factors, tested on the touchstone of the standard of efficiency of the Petitioner as a Judicial Officer reveals that the decision of authority cannot be said to be as mala fide or arbitrary or based on no evidence.”[Ashok Kumar Agarwala v. Registrar General of Orissa, 2022 SCC OnLine Ori 406, decided on 19-01-2022]

Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

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