The Supreme Court today said order of compulsory retirement is neither punitive nor stigmatic and has to be based on subjective satisfaction of government authority that it is in public interest.
"The order of compulsory retirement is neither punitive nor stigmatic. It is based on subjective satisfaction of the employer and a very limited scope of judicial review is available in such cases.
"Interference is permissible only on the ground of non application of mind, malafide, perverse, or arbitrary or if there is non-compliance of statutory duty by the statutory authority," a bench of justices K S Radhakrishnan and A K Sikri said.
The bench made the observation while upholding an appeal filed by Rajasthan State Road Transport Corporation against the state high court order setting aside the compulsory retirement given to one of its drivers.
The corporation had introduced provisions of compulsory and voluntary retirement for its employees and a screening Committee was constituted in 2002 to look into the conduct and continuance of four employees who had attained the age of 50 years or had completed 25 years of service.
The driver was given compulsory retirement considering his adverse career record from 1978-90.
He had moved Rajasthan High Court which set aside the compulsory retirement saying adverse service record pertaining to the period 1978-90 being old and stale could not be taken into consideration at all for retiring him.
The apex court bench, however, said entire service record is relevant for deciding as to whether the government servant needs to be eased out prematurely.
"Power to retire compulsorily, the government servant in terms of service rule is absolute, provided the authority concerned forms a bonafide opinion that compulsory retirement is in public interest.
"What is to be examined is the 'overall performance' on the basis of 'entire service record' to come to the conclusion as to whether the concerned employee has become a deadwood and it is public interest to retire him compulsorily," the bench said citing various judgements.
The apex court also noted that from 1978-1990, the driver was charge sheeted in 19 cases. In few cases