Srinagar: The J&K high court has quashed a government order ‘compulsory retiring’ a revenue employee after declaring him ‘deadwood’ in 2015.
Abdul Majeed Wani, then a patwari in Kangan, was one among 63 officials sacked by an order (No.901 – GAD of 2015) on 30 June 2015 by PDP-BJP government. Wani challenged it in the high court though his counsel.
“In view of the law laid down by the Supreme Court, the impugned order cannot be sustained in law and cannot be said to be an order to have been passed in public interest. It is accordingly quashed. Resultantly, the petitioner shall be reinstated in service,” a single bench of Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey said. The court ordered that Wani shall be entitled to all service benefits during the intervening period which would have accrued to him in normal course but for the compulsory retirement order.
“It is well settled by now that an order of compulsory retirement is neither to be passed by way of, nor constitutes, a punishment on the government servant. It is also settled that for purposes of assuming the subjective satisfaction to invoke the power to compulsorily retire a government servant, the entire service record of the employee has to be considered,” the court said.
The government had said that the order was passed based on a report prepared by a committee headed by chief secretary.
“The record (produced by the government before the high court) speaks of a glaring mechanical approach adopted by the committee and may be by reason of a machination and a political gimmick, which is more depicted by the press statements attributed by (Wani) in the petition to the cabinet spokesman of the government, which the respondents have conveniently omitted to rebut…,” the court said.
The court observed that that it was well settle in law that power to retire compulsorily a government servant in terms of service rules is absolute provided that the authority concerned forms a bona-fide opinion that compulsory retirement is in public interest.
“The test is that the opinion must have been formulated bona-fide that is, it must be founded on subjective satisfaction and such subjective satisfaction must be based on the service record of the employee, supported by material and evidence, it should not be imaginative,” the court said, observing that in case of Wani, the satisfaction recorded by the committee is clearly imaginative and not based on any material or evidence.
“In the instant case, there was no material before the committee on the basis of which a reasonable opinion could be formed that (Wani) had outlived his utility as a government servant or that he had lost his efficiency and had become a dead wood,” the court added.