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Union of India (Uoi), Rly. Department, New Delhi Vs. Kailash Chandra - Court Judgment

LegalCrystal Citation
SubjectService;Constitution
CourtAllahabad High Court
Decided On
Case NumberFirst Appeal No. 3 of 1956
Judge
Reported inAIR1959All434; (1959)IILLJ161All
ActsRailway Establishment Code - Rule 2046; Fundamental Rules - Rule 56(1); Constitution of India - Article 14
AppellantUnion of India (Uoi), Rly. Department, New Delhi
RespondentKailash Chandra
Appellant AdvocateB.N. Mulla, Adv.
Respondent AdvocateNiamatullah, ;B.K. Dhaon, ;B.N. Roy, ;Harish Chandra, ;M.M. Gaur, ;R.B. Bisaria, ;T.N. Verma and ;G.S. Srivastava, Advs.
DispositionAppeal allowed
Excerpt:
service - retirement age of ministerial servant - rule 2046 of railway establishment code and article 14 of the constitution of india - a ministerial servant remain in service for 55 or 60 years - whether this classification in comparison to other employees is reasonable - held, retirement age at 55 is not illegal and it is based on reasonable classification. - - it may be that the government of india might have been trying to take a safe course in order to avoid any future difficulty but that does not mean that that would be the correct interpretation which has been put by the government of india......having been employed on 3-5-1912. after the amalgamation of the o. and r. raillway with the east indian railway, he was confirmed sometime in 1913. in 1948 he was working as a sub-head in the divisional accounts office of the east indian railway at lucknow and according to the plaintiff he was com-pulsorily made to retire on 30-6-1948 after attaining the age of 55. 2. the contention of the plaintiff is that according to fundamental rule 56 equivalent to rule 2046 of the indian railway establishment code, he should not have been made to retire compulsorily at the age of 55 but he was entitled to remain in service till the age of 60 and if he was made to retire compulsorily that order amounted to an order of removal and was passed in breach of the provisions of section 240, clause (3) of.....
Judgment:

V.D. Bhargava, J.

1. This is an appeal filed by the defendant Union of India, in suit brought by Kailash Chandra respondent who was a clerk formerly in the old Oudh and Rohilkhand Railway Accounts Office having been employed on 3-5-1912. After the amalgamation of the O. and R. Raillway with the East Indian Railway, he was confirmed sometime in 1913. In 1948 he was working as a sub-head in the Divisional Accounts Office of the East Indian Railway at Lucknow and according to the plaintiff he was com-pulsorily made to retire on 30-6-1948 after attaining the age of 55.

2. The contention of the plaintiff is that according to Fundamental Rule 56 equivalent to Rule 2046 of the Indian Railway Establishment Code, he should not have been made to retire compulsorily at the age of 55 but he was entitled to remain in service till the age of 60 and if he was made to retire compulsorily that order amounted to an order of removal and was passed in breach of the provisions of Section 240, Clause (3) of the Government of India Act, 1935, and Article 311(2) of the Constitution of India. Reliance was placed by the plaintiff on the Railway Board's letter No. E-62-R. T. 1/2, dated 28-3-1952, which recognised that the retirement of ministerial servants of the railway before attaining the age of 60 was illegal and those persons who had retired at the age of 55 after 8-9-1948, were given a right to be taken back. It was contended in the plaint that there was no justification for confining the operation of that order to those who were retired after 8th September, 1948. The Order of retirement, therefore, according to the plaintiff was ultra vires, illegal and inoperative in the eye of law and thei plaintiff continued in service from 30-6-1948, when he retired till the date of the suit. The cause of action alleged to be was the fetter of the Chief Accounts Officer dated 8-1-1952, refusing to re-instate the plaintiff. The plaintiff claimed a sum of Rs. 14,777/6/- as his pay in addition to a declaration that the order of his compulsory retirement dated the 30th June, 1948 was illegal, ulltra vires, void and inoperative and as such the plaintiff continued in service in spite of the said order. The plaintiff had served a notice on the respondent on 9-5-1952 in accordance with Section 80 of the Code of Civil Procedure.

3. The defence, inter alia, of the respondent was that the Fundamental Rules did not apply to the plaintiff and that the plaintiff had been retired correctly at the age of 55, and further that the suit was barred by limitation.

4. The Court below framed as many as seven issues which are as follows :

1. Whether Fundamental Rule 56 (b) (1) applies to the plaintiit's case?

2. Whether the order of retirement of tha plaintiff at the age of 55 years is ultra vires or illegal?

3. Whether the plaintiff was compulsorily retired as alleged by him or was he normally retired as alleged by the defendant?

4. Whether the notice served on the defendant under Section 80, Civil Procedure Code is legal?

5. Whether the suit is barred by limitation?

6. Whether the claim for arrears is not maintainable?

7. To what relief if any is the plaintiff entitled?

It held that the Fundamental Rule 56 (b) (1) ap-plied to the plaintiff's case, that the order of toe retirement of the plaintiff at the age of 55 was ultra vires and illegal, that the plaintiff was com-pulsorily retired, that the notice served on the defendant was a proper notice, and that the suit could be decreed only for three years and two months salary and was not barred qua the relief for a declaration and on these findings it decreed the suit for Rs. 11,794/-. Aggrieved by that decision the Union of India has come up in appeal to this Court. There is also a cross-objection by the respondent as regards that portion of the claim which had been disallowed by the Court below.

5. Learned Counsel for the appellant has raised two points : Firstly it has been argued that the plaintiff had been rightly retired on 30-6-1948, On his attaining the age of 55 on a correct interpretation of Rule 2046. Secondly he had argued that the suit is barred by limitation.

6. Fundamental Rule 56 which is equivalent to Rule 2046 (2) (a) of the Indian Railway Establishment Code and which is applicable to the present case reads as follows :

'A ministerial servant, who is not governed by Sub-clause (b), may be required to retire at the age of 55 years, but should ordinarily be retained in service, if he continues efficient up to the age of 60 years. He must not be retained after that age except in very special circumstances, which must be recorded in writing, and with the sanction of the competent authority.'

7. Learned Counsel placed reliance for the interpretation of this rule on certain authorities including one of this Court. He first placed Raghu-nath Narain Mathur v. Union of India, AIR 1953 All 352. That is a decision by a Bench of this Court, and this very rule was being considered by that Bench and they observed as follows :

'The Railway authorities have an unfettered option, in our opinion, to retire a person at the age of 55, though, normally speaking, they are expected to continue persons in employment, unless they are inefficient, until they reach the age of 60. .....The word 'ordinarily' (in Rule 2046(2)(a)) does not take away their rights to retire him and it cannot be ignored. So in order to arrive at tha conclusion whether a person is or is not sufficiently efficient to be allowed to be retained in service till the age of 60, it is not necessary for them to frame regular charges and give the employee an opportunity of explanation.'

This authority practically fully supports the appellant.

8. Next reliance was placed on Krislian Dayal v. General Manager, Northern Railway Baroda House, New Delhi, AIR 1954 Punj 245 in which it was observed :

''In common parlance 'ordinarily' means in a large majority of cases. The expression is never used in reference to a case to which there are no exceptions .....

It, therefore, seems to me that the import of 'ordinarily' in Rule 2046 is that the Railway Authorities were given the right to retire a ministerial servant at the age of 55, and if he is so com-pulsorily retired he can have no grievance for he has no right to continue in service after the age of 55. He will be retained in most cases provided he is efficient 'but he cannot claim to be retained as a matter of right'.....

9. Again in Basanta Kumar Pal v. The Chief Electrical Engineer, AIR 1956 Cal 93, a learned Judge of the Court held :

'In my view, Rule 2046 (2) (b) does not confer any legal right upon a Railway employee to be continued in employment after attaining the age of 55. After reaching that age, the Railway Authorities have no statutory duty to continue him in service. Whether they will do so or not, depends upon the policy which was being followed for the time being.'

In that case his Lordship had further referred to a notification No. G. I. F. D. No, F/24R1/32 dated 9-5-1932 in which the word ''Ordinarily' has been interpreted by the Governor General which would now be deemed to be an order of the President. Under Rule 2002 the power of interpreting the rules in the Railway Establishment Code is reserved to the President. It is true that his interpretation is not binding on the Court but if any word is liable to have two meanings and if the right of interpreting has been given to the President and he has in exercise of that right interpreted a certain word them the Court would ordinarily accept that interpretation unless it be inconsistent with the context. That notification has interpreted the word 'Ordinarily' in the following words :

'In view of the occurrence of the word 'ordinarily' in F. R. 56 fb) (2046 (2)). a ministerial Government servant can be retired from Government service between the age of 55 and 60 years on grounds other than those of efficiency and that in such a case he has no claim to be retained in service up to the age of 60 years. The purpose of F. R. 56 (2046), is not to confer upon Government servants any right to be retained in service up to a particular age but to prescribe the age beyond which they may not be retained in service.'

After this interpretation there cannot be the least doubt that a Govt. servant can be retired at the age of 55.

10. On behalf of the respondent great reliance was placed on the observation of his Lordship Mukherjea (as he then was) in the Supreme Court decision of Jai Ram v. Union of India, AIR 1954 SC 584. On the interpretation put by Sri Umrigar on that rule it was observed :

'We think that it is a possible view to take upon the language of this rule that a ministerial servant coming within its purview has normally the right to be retained in service till he reached the age of 60. This is conditional undoubtedly upon his continuing to be efficient. We may assume, therefore, for purposes of this case that the plaintiff had the right to continue in service till 60 and could not be retired before that except on the ground of inefficiency.'

This passage was also referred to in AIR 1956 Cal 93, but his Lordship held that nothing was decided about the interpretation of the Fundamental Rule 56 and therefore that dictum was not binding on the Court. We respectfully agree with that observation of Mr. Justice Sinha in the Calcutta case. His Lordship Mukherjea, J. had only said that it was 'a possible view.' He had not gone to the length of saying that it was reasonable or a probable view. In the circumstances we do not think that this obiter is binding on us. We respectfully find ourselves in agreement with the decision in AIR 1953 All 352 and therefore we think that the plaintiff had no right to remain in service till the age of sixty and it was open to the Railway Administration to retire him on his attaining the age of 55.

11. The words of the rule also make it quite clear. The rule says that a ministerial servant may be required to retire at the age of 55. It means that the option to retire or not to retire vests jr. the Railiway Administration, He is to continue till the age of 60 if he is found efficient. The interpretation which the learned Counsel for the respondent wants to put on this clause that he should have been allowed to continue till the age 60 unless he was found inefficient would not be a correct interpretation. A person can be efficient or inefficient Or neither particularly efficient nor particularly inefficient. In the case of the latter his services are not to be allowed to continue after the age of 55. It is only when his work is found to be efficient that he should be allowed to continue after the age of 55. The Court below was wrong in holding that the plaintiff had any right and therefore granting the decree.

12. Learned Counsel for the respondent had placed reliance on certain orders which had been passed by the Government of India and the Railway Board on the interpretation of this rule. It as not necessary to consider those notifications at length because they are not binding on us and the Government of India, if possible, might take a different view after the recent decisions. It may be that the Government of India might have been trying to take a safe course in order to avoid any future difficulty but that does not mean that that would be the correct interpretation which has been put by the Government of India.

13. The second point argued by the learned Counsel for the appellant was that the Court below was wrong in holding that Article 120 of the Limitation Act applied because according to his contention that article will apply only whem no other article will apply. His contention was that Article 14 of the Limitation Act specifically applies to the present case. We need not decide this point because on the first point if the plaintiff has no right of suit his suit fails and would be dismissed.

14. Learned Counsel for the respondent has argued that the notification bv the Railway Board granted a right to those who had retired after 8-9-1948, to be reinstated in case they had applied and they were not settled up men. It was contended that the notification dated 28-3-1952 contravened Article 14 of the Constitution because it gave a right to only those who had retired after 8-9-1948, to apply for reinstatement but it did not give that right to those who had retired before 8-9-1948, just as in the present case. Firstly, as we have held we are not bound by these notifications and these notifications have no effect on us. Secondly we do not think that there has been any discrimination. There is a reasonable classification because 8-9-1948 is the date on which the Government of India has given its interpretation as to how the ministerial servants are to be retired and before that since there was no direction by the Government the Railway Board was justified in choosing 8-9-1948, as the date after which the right was given to those who had retired. The order of the Government could not by this notification be made retrospective.

15. Moreover, under the notification dated 28-3-1952, it was directed that such of the mi iis-terial servants who have been retired after 8-9-1948 but before attaining the age of 60 years without complying with Article 311(2) of the Constitution of India should be taken back to duly provided they represent to this effect ..... but those who have already been settled up should not be taken back to duty even on their representation unless they refund the Provident Fund money received by them. This notification had been issued on 28-3-52. After this date no representation was made by the plaintiff. Even if this notification was to apply to him, he was one of the persons who had already been settled up and therefore he was not entitled to be reinstated under this notification unless he was prepared to refund the Provident Fund money which was received by him. No such offer was ever made by the plaintiff. Under the circumstances this notification even if it was applied to those who had retired before 8-9-1948 would not apply to the plaintiff as he had not complied with the condition precedent to the reinstatement.

16. We, accordingly, think that the decision of the. Court below is erroneous. We, therefore, allow the appeal, set aside the judgment and decree of the trial Court and dismiss the plaintiffs suit.

17. There is also a cross-objection filed by the plaintiff about the amount which had not been decreed to him but since we are holding that the plaintiff had no right to file the suit, the cross-objection also fails.

18. As the plaintiff had been declared a pauper and as he was misled by the notification wethink in the circumstances of the case the partieswill bear their costs of the appeal and of the trialCourt but the defendant-appellant will be entitledto its costs in the cross-objections.


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