In a recent judgment, the Supreme Court said that the age of retirement is purely a policy matter that lies within the domain of the Centre and it is not for the courts to prescribe a different age of retirement from the one applicable to government employees under the relevant service Rules and Regulations.
A bench comprising Justices Hima Kohli and Rajesh Bindal was considering a special leave petition filed by members of teaching faculty in Homeopathic Medical Colleges in Kerala seeking enhancement of their age of retirement from 55 to 60.
The court disallowed appellants' prayer that the benefit of the government order passed in January 2010, increasing the retirement age of doctors in the medical category under the Medical Education Service from 55 years to 60 years with retrospective effect from May 1, 2009, should be extended to them.
The apex court held that the state government may elect to give the benefit of extension of age to a particular class of government employees while denying the said benefit to others for valid considerations that may include financial implications, administrative considerations, exigencies of service, etc.
It found that the idea behind extending the retirement age of doctors was to take care of the emergency situation caused by shortage of doctors and was not merely to grant benefits to a particular class.
“This is an exercise that is undertaken by the state in discharge of its public duties and should not brook undue interference by the Court,” the Supreme Court held.
In respect of retrospective application of the decision, it said that “let us not forget, whatever may be the cut-off date fixed by the state government, some employees would always be left out in the cold".
"But that alone would not make the decision bad; nor would it be a ground for the court to tread into matters of policy that are best left for the state government to decide.”