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Review: Central Government reiterates its guidelines regarding ‘Premature Retirement’ of Government Servants

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The Department of Personnel & Training recently reiterated its consolidated guidelines on the issue of ‘premature retirement’. The guidelines talk about the provisions, process, criteria etc. among other issues related to ‘Premature Retirement’. Here is a review.

Recently, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) issued a memorandum regarding the periodic review of central government employees. With the objective to make the functioning of government more effective, the department has asked all the ministries & departments to review the performance of the officials in order to determine whether or not the official is fit to be retained in service or be retired from service prematurely, in public interest. The current memorandum is a consolidated version & a reiteration of the guidelines issued on the subject  so far at one place.

This story explains the details of the consolidated guidelines pertaining to the premature and compulsory retirement of government officials, issued by DoPT. 

All central government employees are governed under Fundamental Rules (FR) and Central Civil Services (CCS) Rules. The objective of FR 56(j)/(l) and Rule 48 of CCS Pension Rules, 1972 is ‘to strengthen the administrative machinery by developing responsible and efficient administration at all levels and to achieve efficiency, economy and speed in the disposal of Government functions’, as per memorandum issued recently by the DoPT.  

Further, the notification clarifies that premature retirement of government servants under these rules is different from ‘Compulsory Retirement’ defined under CCS Rules, 1965 which is a major penalty awarded to a government employee for misconduct, similar to dismissal and removal from job. The memorandum clarifies that ‘Premature retirement’ is not a penalty. 

Appropriate Authority can retire a government servant if necessary, in public interest.

The Appropriate authority has the absolute right to retire a government servant if necessary, in public interest. The legislations governing the same are- FR 56(j), FR 56(I), or Rule 48(1)(b) of CCS (Pension) Rules, 1972. 

Under Rule 56 (j) of FR, ‘The appropriate authority has the absolute right to retire, if it is necessary to do so in public interest, any Government employee as per provisions of Rule’.

A notice of at least 3 months in writing or three months’ pay and allowances in absence of notice must be ensured. For the provision to be applicable, Group A & B officers must have entered service before turning 35 years of age and turned 50 years old or attained 55 years of age in other cases. Various categories of employees come under Group A and Group B.

Source: Notification, DoPT

Under 56(j), the other category of employees, Group C and those posts not entitled to pension, must have completed at least 30 years of service and three months’ notice. 

Source: Notification, DoPT

Rule 48(1) (b) of CCS Rules, 1972 states that a government servant who has completed 30 years of service may be required by Appointing Authority to retire in public interest. He must be given a notice three months in advance or be paid the salary and allowance for three months in case such a notice is not present. 

Source: CCS (Pension) Rules, 1972

The following time schedule has to be followed for the quarterly review exercise of government servants.

A register of the government servants who are due to attain 50/55 years of age or complete 30 years of service, must be maintained which is to be scrutinized at the beginning of every quarter by a senior officer of the Department. A review must be undertaken as per the above schedule for ensuring timely completion of process. To carry out the process, the Department has prescribed the composition of Review Committees constituting two members and a Representation Committee for any appeals. To assist the Review Committee, it has also been suggested to constitute an Internal Committee which would ensure that the service record of the employee being reviewed is submitted to the relevant authorities with all the necessary information.  

On what basis will the Review committee make recommendations?

As per the memorandum issued by DoPT, the following broad criteria is to be followed by the review committee while making appropriate recommendations.

  • Government servants whose integrity is doubtful shall be retired.
  • Those who are found to be ineffective (considering their fitness/competence to continue the post they hold) should be retired.
  • No government servant should ordinarily be retired on ground of ineffectiveness if he would be retiring on superannuation within a period of one year from the date of consideration of his case.
  • Cases where there is a sudden and steep fall in the competence, efficiency, or effectiveness of a government servant, would be reviewed also for premature retirement.
  • No Government servant should ordinarily be retired on ground of ineffectiveness, if, his service during the preceding 5 years, or in case he has been promoted to a higher post during that 5-year period, his service in the highest post has been found to be satisfactory.
  • Not only the Annual Performance Appraisal Report (APAR) but the entire service record of a government servant should be considered at the time of review. His work and performance can also be assessed by looking into files dealt with by him or in any papers or reports prepared and submitted by him.

The recommendations of the Review Committee will be put up for consideration and approval of the appropriate authority in cases where the review committee has recommended to retire the government servant prematurely. After issue of the orders of premature retirement, the concerned government servant may make a  representation (like an appeal) within three weeks from the date of the premature retirement order. The representation committee must make its recommendations on the representation within 2 weeks. 

Few important observations of Supreme Court have been cited to add more clarity

In Union of India V. Col. J N Sinha, the Supreme Court held that show cause notice need not be issued to any government servant before a notice of retirement is issued to him as per the above provisions. It also referred to State of Gujarat V. Umedbhai M Patel, 2001 clarifying that compulsory retirement should not be treated as punishment and that dead wood needs to be chopped off for better administration, implying that whenever the services of a public servant are no longer useful to the general administration, the officer can be compulsorily retired in public interest. 

For evaluating the integrity of a government servant, all material on record including the actions or decisions taken by the employee which do not appear to be above board, complaints received against him, or suspicious property transactions for which there may not be sufficient evidence to initiate departmental proceedings, must be considered. If conduct of a government employee becomes unbecoming to the public interest, the government servant may be given compulsory retirement.

Compulsory retirement invoked against 163 Group A and 157 Group B officers between July 2014 and January 2020

According to a response in the Lok Sabha in July 2019,  during the period from July 2014 to May 2019, a total of 36,756 Group-A and 82,654 Group-B officers were reviewed under the above-mentioned provisions. The FR 56(j) or similar provisions have been recommended against 125 Group-A and 187 Group B officers. Another Lok Sabha response in March 2020 revealed that 163 Group-A (including all India Service Officers) and 157 Group-B officers were recommended retirement under these provisions during July 2014 to January 2020.  All India Service Officers such as IAS, IPS, etc. are covered under the provision of compulsory retirement as per Rule 16(3) of the All India Services (Death-Cum-Retirement Benefits) Rules, 1958 in addition to the above provisions.

It has to be noted that this is not the first time that the government has released these guidelines. Almost every other year, the government has re-iterated the guidelines and issued clarifications regarding the same.  Unless such review process is taken seriously without misuse, there is not going to be much difference in the administration, and such initiatives will fail to achieve the objectives. Transparency in the review process and execution are key for its success. 

Featured Image: Premature Retirement of Government Servants

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