The Punjab and Haryana high court would decide the fate of a large number of employees of boards and corporations in Punjab who have superannuated at the age of 58 years following the state government's February 27 instructions despite last year's amendment in the Punjab civil services rules enhancing the retirement age to 59.
Taking up a petition by Fatehgarh Sahib resident Tikka Ram on the issue, the court headed by justice Mahesh Grover has directed the state government to file its response by November 15. The main issue involved for adjudication in the case is as to whether the state government's instructions can override or replace the rules.
On October 8, 2012, the state government had amended rule 3.26(a) of the Punjab civil services rules for enhancing the retirement age to 59 years across the board. However, the state government issued instructions on February 27, 2013, putting various riders on the amended civil services rules.
The instructions mention that extension of one-year service shall be applicable to all employees working in various boards and corporations, as had been done in respect of all state government employees, without any "pick and choose policy", but at the same time it put certain riders.
The instructions also read, "The extension of one-year service shall not be granted in case where the financial position of those boards/corporations is effected by granting one-year extension in service."
The petitioner has challenged February 27 instructions on the ground that these were against the public policy and it was a settled law wherein it had been held that instructions could neither override nor supplant the rules.
Since the petitioner was not granted benefit of extension of one year in the retirement age, he was forced to superannuate as safai mate from the municipal council, Sirhind, on February 28 after attaining 58 years of age. The state government had already amended rules for enhancing the retirement age to 59 years before his retirement.
The petitioner had submitted that it was discriminatory on the part of the state government to pick and choose beneficiary departments for implementation of the amended rules as per its whims and fancies. The petitioner informed the court that similarly situated two employees were later granted extension in service by the Sirhind municipal council after the petitioner's retirement.