On a plea seeking to fix the retirement age of government servants in Kerala as 60 years, the Supreme Court on Thursday issued notice to the State of Kerala.
Notice was issued by a bench led by Justice on the special leave petition Saju Nambadan and another v State of Kerala and others which challenged the amendments brought to the Kerala Service Rules to increase the retirement age as 60 years from 56 years only for those employees who joined service after 01.04.2013.
The retirement age of Central Government employees was 60, said the counsel.
“So, you want the best of both worlds – statutory pension and retirement age at 60?” Justice Chandrachud asked the Counsel.
The petitioners had earlier approached the Kerala Administrative Tribunal (KAT) with their prayer, but KAT dismissed their application. Challenging this, petitioner approached the Kerala High Court.
A division bench of Justices A M Shaffique and P Gopinath dismissed their petition on July 29, 2020.
The High Court observed, “The new pension system for State Government employees has been implemented to those who were appointed in service on or after 1.4.2013. Once the National Pension System is implemented on the basis of the statutory provision, the employee can continue service until the age of 60 years. It is under such circumstances that the retirement for the employees coming under the National Pension System has been enhanced to 60 years. The Rule has also been amended to incorporate the retirement age of employees who were governed by the National Pension System. Therefore, as far as the employees who are appointed on or after 1.4.2013 are concerned, their service conditions are entirely different.”
Therefore, the HC held that the distinction between employees who had joined service before 01.04.2013 and after the said date was based on an “intelligible differentia”.
“The existing employees were governed by the pension rules where the age of retirement is stated to be 56 years, whereas when a shift has been made to the National Pension System pursuant to the change in policy, appointees who were appointed on or after 1.4.2013 has been permitted to remain in service up to the age of 60 years. The object to be achieved for the aforesaid classification is justifiable and hence the amendment to Rule 60 of Part III KSR is not in violation of Article 14 of the Constitution of India”, the High Court observed.