P R K RAO Vs. FOOD CORPORATION OF INDIA
HIGH COURT OF CHHATTISGARH
P R K Rao,D.P. Rajput,Manharan Lal Gupta,Vinod Acharya,Nilkanth Pd. Sharma
FOOD CORPORATION OF INDIA
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L.C.BHADOO, J. -
(1.) WRIT Petition No. 3842/2004 filed by D.P. Rajput, who was working as Assistant Manager in the Food Corporation of India. Writ Petition No.
4429/2004 filed by Ramavtar Sharma, who was working as Assistant Grade- I (D) in the Food Corporation of India, Writ Petition No. 3501/2004 filed by
P.R.K. Rao, who was working as Assistant Manager (Q.C.), in the Food
Corporation of India, Writ Petition No. 3678/04 filed by Vinod Acharya,
who was working as Assistant Manager (Q.C.) in the Food Corporation of
India, Writ Petition No. 4059/2004 filed by Manharan Lai Gupta, who was
working as Assistant Grade-Ill (Depot) and Writ Petition No. 4104/2004
filed by Nilkanth Pd Sharma, who was working as Assistant Grade-II (D) in
the Food Corporation of India are being disposed of by this common order
as in all these writ petitions the interpretation of Voluntary Retirement Scheme
floated by the respondent-Corporation vide Circular No. EP-01 -2004-16 dated 29-6-2004 is involved.
(2.) THE petitioners' case in these writ petitions is that the respondent- Corporation floated a Voluntary Retirement Scheme for its employees vide
its Circular No. EP-01-2004-16 dated 29-6-2004 and time period of that
scheme was three months i.e. from 29-6-2004 to 29-9-2004. In the first*
instance, the petitioners, who were the employees of the respondent-
Corporation, submitted their applications seeking voluntary retirement in
pursuance of the said scheme. However, later on the petitioners submitted
applications for withdrawal of their applications seeking voluntary retirement,
but respondent- Corporation did not accept the same, on the other hand
accepted their applications for voluntary retirement. Therefore, the petitioners
have questioned the legality, propriety and validity of the orders of respondent-
Corporation whereby the respondent-Corporation accepted the voluntary
retirement applications of the petitioners' inspite of the fact that same were
withdrawn by them. Therefore, the question involved in these petitions is
that whether the action of the respondents-Corporation not permitting the
petitioners to withdraw their applications for seeking voluntary retirement is
illegal and arbitrary.
Brief facts leading to filing of these writ petitions are that in order to achieve man-power rationalization with a view to minimizing the cost of
Food Corporation of India, the Corporation had launched the Voluntary
Retirement Scheme vide Annexure P-1 dated 29-6-2004. Sub-para (2) of
Para 1 of the Preamble of the scheme envisages that:
"The Corporation will have the right not to grant voluntary retirement to any of officers/officials for the reasons to be recorded in writing."
In sub-para (3) of Para (1) it was made known to the employees of the
respondent Corporation that:
"the scheme will be in operation for a period of three months from the date of issuance of circular and the Corporation will have right to accept the requests for voluntary retirement on the principle of 'first come first served' basis. The scope of the scheme was that it was open to the permanent employees of the Corporation i.e. Direct recruits, Food Transferees, who have opted either for Central Govt. pensionary benefits or for FCI retrial benefits and to the absorbed deputationists."
As to the eligibility, it was made clear that:
"only permanent employees of the Corporation will be eligible and they may seek voluntary retirement by giving three months notice in writing to the competent authority within the prescribed limit However, the competent authority was entitled to make the payment of notice period of three months or for the remaining period of notice period and was entitled to accept the request for voluntary retirement from any date before the date on expiry of notice period."
in sub-para (3) of Para-4 of the eligibility criteria it was made clear that:
"Applications for voluntary retirement would be examined with reference to the pending disciplinary proceedings etc. if any, against the employees. The request for voluntary retirement would be considered keeping in mind the circumstances of each case with a view to ensure that it is extended to such employees whose services could be dispensed without detriment to the Corporation. Care shall be taken to ensure that highly skilled and qualified officers and staff are not given the option. Further, voluntary retirement could be denied where departmental proceedings have been initiated or are contemplated or where the prosecution is either contemplated or has actually been launched against the employee concerned."
Para-7 of the scheme relates about the competent authority, envisages that:
"the appointing authorities for the purpose of above Scheme would be the authorities to accept or reject an application for Voluntary Retirement."
Para-8 relates to the procedure and sub-para (a) of Para-8 envisages that:
"an eligible employee may submit an application for voluntary retirement under this scheme to the competent authority through proper channel in the prescribed proforma."
Sub-para (b) of Para-8 envisages that:
"the voluntary retirement of the employee under this scheme would be subject to vigilance clearance."
Sub-para (c) of Para-8 envisages that:
"the scheme does not confer any right on any employee to have his request for voluntary retirement accepted. The Corporation will have full discretion to accept or reject the request for voluntary retirement of any employee, keeping in view the service record, organizational requirement and any other relevant factors in this regard."
Sub-para (d) of Para-8 envisages that:
"once an employee submits his application for voluntary retirement under this scheme to the competent authority, it shall be treated as final and it is not open to the employees to withdraw the same. The competent authority within notice period (3 months) shall take the decision to accept or reject the request and shall communicate the same to the official concerned."
2. Later on, a further clarification was issued on 22-9-2004 in which it has been mentioned that regarding scheme for voluntary retirement issued
vide Circular No. EP-01-2004-16 dated 29-6-2004 which provides that once
an employee volumite his application for voluntary retirement under this
scheme to the competent authority, it shall be treated as final and it would
not be open to employee to withdraw the same, headquarters have received
representations from trade Unions etc. requesting for modification of the
said provision so as to allow the employees to withdraw their requests for
voluntary retirement in the wake of change in their circumstances and the
said representations have been examined in consultation with Legal & Finance
Divisions and the competent authority has decided that though the Scheme
does not permit withdrawal of an application for voluntary retirement, yet
the discretion always would rest with the competent authority to accept or
reject such an application. All the authorities are accordingly advised to
decide the application for withdrawal of voluntary retirement. Requests on
these lines, on case-to-case basis.
Therefore, by this circular considering the demand of trade Unions a
relaxation to certain extent was given in sub-para (d) of Para-8 of the scheme
in question whereby in the first instance it was made known to every employee
that once an employee submitted his application for voluntary retirement
that shall be treated as final and it is not open to the employee to withdraw
the same. But the employees were allowed to make an application for
withdrawal of their applications seeking voluntary retirement. However,
discretion was left with the competent authority to accept or reject such
withdrawal application. It was further added that the authority concerned
would decide the withdrawal of voluntary retirement request case to case
(3.) LEARNED counsel for the petitioners placing reliance on the decision of the Hon'ble Apex Court in the matter of Bank of India and others Vs. O.P.
Swarnakar and others1 argued that in view of the decision of the Hon'ble
Apex Court even in the existence of sub-para (d) of Para-8 of the scheme the
petitioners were entitled to withdraw their offer for voluntary retirement before
the same was accepted and in this matter the petitioners had moved
applications for withdrawal of their offer for voluntary retirement before the
same was accepted, therefore, the respondent-Corporation ought to have
accepted their withdrawal applications and allowed them to continue in
services, As such, the impugned orders rejecting the petitioners' prayer for
withdrawal of voluntary retirement and accepting their voluntary retirement
was unjustified, same is arbitrary and liable to be quashed. They further argued
that in view of relaxation given by Circular Dated 22-9-2004 the petitioners'
request for withdrawal ought to have been accepted.;
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