12. The Government hereby direct that the orders contained in the Government Orders first and second read above, as subsequently amended, extending the age of retirement of teachers from 55 to 58 and from 58 to 60 years be cancelled with effect from 30th November 1967. Suitable rules under the Panchayat and Municipalities Act will be made separately by the Panchayat Raj and Health, Housing and Municipal Administration Departments to give effect to the above decision.
(2) The teachers who are affected by the orders in para 1 above, will however be continued in service till the end of the academic year 1967-68 in order to ensure continuity in the academic teaching.
13. On behalf of the respondents justification for first increasing the age of compulsory retirement to 58 and then to 60 years and later restoring it to 55 years is stated in the counter-affidavit in the following words:
the G.O. did not contemplate any classification for it fixed a uniform date for retirement of teachers, who have completed 55 years but who got extension of the period of service, even before they attained their 60th year. It is only in compliance with the order of the Hon'ble High Court of Andhra Pradesh dated 164-1968 in Writ Petitions Nos. 3105 of 1967, etc. holding that teachers whose term has already been extended up to their 60th year have got a vested right to continue till their 60th year that they were allowed to continue. It is also significant that the Writ Appeal preferred by this respondent against the judgment was also dismissed. The writ petitions filed by the teachers who did not complete their 55th year before the G.O. reducing the age of retirement was passed were dismissed by the same High Court in Judgment dated 7-8-1968 in W.P. Nos. 1741 of 1968 etc. As such even if there are some anomalies in the working out of the G.O. that will not be a ground for striking out the G.O. as it treats alike all in the same category, x x x the object for raising the retirement age was to solve the problem of dearth of qualified teachers because of the opening of new schools and the need for the maximum utilisation of trained intelligensia.
It is further explained in the counter-affidavit that as soon as the dearth of qualified teachers disappeared, the retirement age was again restored to 55 years. In this counter-affidavit it is also pointed out that 'if the G.O. is struck down, it will mean extension of services of thousands of teachers, when there is really no need for them.'
14. After a faint attempt to challenge the validity of the Government Order No. 2219 dated November 3, 1967, the learned counsel expressly confined his challenge only to the subsequent orders made by the Government. Now if G.O. No. 2219 dated November 3, 1967 is valid, then obviously the petitioners have to retire at the age of 55 years notwithstanding the fact that after their initial employment their retirement age was raised by Government orders, first from 55 to 58 years and then to 60 years because those intermediary orders had been cancelled by G.O. No. 2219 before they became operative by actually retaining in service the present petitioners after their superannuation under the earlier rules. Merely because by some subsequent orders the extended date of retirement was accepted in respect of those employees in whose favour either specific orders had been made extending their age of retirement from 55 to 58 or to 60 years, or who had, after-crossing the 55 years age limit, been actually retained in service pursuant to the modified directions, notwithstanding that those directions were later cancelled, would not by itself entitle the present petitioners to claim similar extension in their age of retirement on the basis of the equality rule embodied in Articles 14 & 16 of the Constitution. The other employees were given benefit of the directions pursuant to the orders of the High Court which have since become final. This clearly provides a valid differentia and the present petitioners cannot claim to be equated with those employees who had been given such benefits.
15. The learned counsel contended that the case of the present petitioners is identical with that of the teachers who had applied to the Andhra Pradesh High Court and had secured orders in their favour. The present petitioners, it was argued, having also acquired a vested right by virtue of the Government orders raising their retirement age to 60 years are entitled to claim from this Court similar orders as were made by the High Court in favour of the petitioners in the two writ petitions. We do not think there is any such fundamental right possessed by the present petitioners as would entitle them to claim similar relief from this Court in the present proceedings. The two categories of the teachers employed by the three local bodies are distinct and separate. We are not concerned with the question whether the High Court was right in granting relief to the petitioners in the two earlier cases though the respondent has in the counter-affidavit questioned the correctness of those orders. They became final and are binding on the parties to those proceedings. The present petitioners did not secure similar orders and now their retirement age having been restored to the original limit of 55 years the petitioners cannot claim the higher age limit. No doubt during a short period the increased age limit for retirement remained in force. But, as is rightly conceded by all the counsel for the various petitioners, it is open to the Government in this case to reduce the age of retirement without exposing such reduction to any Constitutional infirmity.
16. In this connection it may be pointed out that the Andhra Pradesh High Court also had by a subsequent order denied relief to some of the teachers similarly placed as the present petitioners, holding their case to be distinguishable from that of the teachers who had successfully applied for relief in the earlier two writ petitions.
17. The submission, that when the Government itself accepted the judgment of the Andhra Pradesh High Court striking down the Government order reducing the retirement age to 55 years, then the earlier order increasing the age of compulsory retirement must automatically be held to be revived, is unacceptable. The Government, it is noteworthy, made the impugned orders after the decision of the Andhra Pradesh High Court with the object of giving the benefit of that decision to all the employees whose cases were covered by the principal laid down by the High Court, The case of the present petitioners is quite different and is not covered by the rule laid down by the High Court.
18. The impugned Government order fixing November 30, 1967, as the date for founding the classification of teachers who should retire at the age of 55 years and those who should get the benefit of the interim orders extending the age of retirement to 58 or 60 years cannot be considered to be either irrational, or unreasonable or having no nexus with the object to be achieved by reducing the age of retirement. The problem of unemployment in our country is undoubtedly a complex problem and opinions may differ how best to solve it. But that would not raise any question of fundamental right with which alone we are concerned in the present proceedings. The position as stated in the counter-affidavit in the case before us, however, furnishes a complete answer to the petitioner's contention. The classification made by the Government does not suffer from any infirmity as it is founded on rational nexus with the object to be achieved.
19. Shri Chagla appearing in support of Writ Petition No. 249 of 1970 also made attempt to challenge the Government Order dated November 3, 1967. But nothing new was urged and the learned counsel had, with his usual candour, to concede that the Government could lawfully reduce the age of retirement without attracting Constitutional infirmity.
20. Dr. Singhvi appearing in support of Writ Petition No. 144 of 1970 drew our attention to Fundamental Rule 56(a) as amended by the Andhra Pradesh Government in 1965 and submitted that according to the amended sub-rule 'the date of compulsory retirement of a Government servant, whether ministerial or non-ministerial and in the last grade service is the date on which he attains to the age of 55 years and 60 years respectively'. According to the learned counsel the petitioners are non-ministerial government servants in the last grade service and are, therefore, entitled to remain in service till they attain 60 years of age. This submission appears to us to be inconsistent with the petitioners' case as pleaded in the writ petitions. In the writ petitions it has been assumed that according to the F.R. 56(a) the teachers have ordinarily to retire at the age of 55 years. In any event, whether or not the amended F.R. 56(a) fixed the retirement age of non-ministerial government servants at 60 years, and whether or not the petitioners are covered by this rule, seems to be immaterial because it has not been shown that the teachers employed by the Municipalities, Zilla Parishads and Panchayat Samitis are governed directly by this Fundamental Rule. The submission that the rule applicable to the teachers employed by such bodies was intended to be in conformity with the Fundamental Rule is of little avail to the petitioners because those Rules could not be considered to have been automatically modified as result of the amendment in F.R. 56(a) in 1965. It is not disputed that there is no such modification in the Rules which directly govern such teachers. The argument based on the amended F.R. 56(a) is, therefore, of no assistance to the petitioners.
21. Dr. Singhvi's criticism that the position taken up in the counter-affidavit That the rule 'last come, first go' applies to the petitioners is unfounded also cannot benefit the petitioners. The petitioners have to retire at the age of 55 years because the benefit under the intermediary directions, which have since been cancelled, cannot after cancellation be claimed by them under any provision of law. This contention is, therefore, also repelled. Dr. Singhvi referred us to Bishun Narain Mishra v. State of Uttar Pradesh and Ors. : (1966)ILLJ45SC .; State of Assam and Ors. v. Premadhar Baruah and Ors. : 1SCR503 .; and to an unreported decision of this Court in The State of U.P. and Anr. v. Kishan Chand Dhaun C.A. No. 1832 of 1968 decided on Dec. 12, 1968. These decisions do not advance the petitioners' case. In Bishun Narain Mishra : (1966)ILLJ45SC . this Court observed:
Now it cannot be urged that if Government decides to retain the services of some public servants after the age of retirement it must retain every public servant for the same length of time. The retention of public servants after the period of retirement depends upon their efficiency and the exigencies of public service and in the present case the difference in the period of retention has arisen on account of exigencies of public service.
In Premadhar Baruah : 1SCR503 . it was observed by this Court:
As we have already indicated paragraph 4 of the memorandum flowed from F.R. 56(a) The Government could retain a Government servant beyond the age of superannuation. The Government has also the discretion to withdraw such retention in service because the retention does not confer any right on the Government servant.
It is not understood how these decisions are helpful to the counsel. The unreported decision had to deal with a different problem and nothing said in that judgment has been shown to assist the petitioners before us.
22. In the other writ petitions the counsel merely adopted the arguments raised by Mr. Sarjoo Prasad and Mr. Chagla, and therefore they do not call for any comment.
23. In the final result, all the writ petitions are dismissed, but in the circumstances with no order as to costs.