N G SANTOSH KUMAR Vs. UOI
HIGH COURT OF DELHI
NG SANTOSH KUMAR
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Per Thakur, J. -
(1.) Having rendered pensionable service in the Indian Army, the petitioner was considered for extension of service by two years in terms of a Government of India policy which envisages such extension. The authority considering him for the said benefit found him eligible and extended his service by a period of two years from 19.12.2005 to 18.12.2007. Some time later it transpired that the petitioner having been convicted for an offence punishable under Section 41(1) of the Army Act and sentenced to undergo detention for a period of ten days, was ineligible for any such extension. A show cause notice was accordingly served upon the petitioner calling upon him to explain as to why the order of grant of extension of service to him be not recalled and he be not discharged from service as he was already due for such discharge upon superannuation. The petitioner submitted a reply to the show cause notice and is now before us challenging his proposed discharge w.e.f. 28.02.2007. The solitary contention, which the petitioner urges before us through his counsel Sh. J.P. Tiwary, is that having been considered for grant of extension and an order granting extension of service having been passed and the petitioner having already served, pursuant to the such extension order, for a period of one year and two months, the extended period of service could not be cut short. It is also argued by the learned counsel that the respondents ought to have examined the question of eligibility of the petitioner at the appropriate stage and having failed to do so they could not wake up and deny to the petitioner a benefit that had already accrued to him.
(2.) On behalf of the respondents it was on the other hand submitted that the grant of extension of two years in the service of those who were due for retirement was subject to their screening by a Screening Board, which was to be held on the Unit/Regiment/Corps/Record Office basis in order to assess their suitability for extension. The procedure and criterion for screening was according to them laid down in terms of a communication dated 21.09.1998 issued by the Army Headquarter. An individual who had been convicted or awarded red ink entry for any offence mentioned in the Annexure to the Appendix, was not eligible for such extension. By reference to the Annexure to the Appendix, it wa's argued that conviction and punishment for an offence punishable under Section 41(1) of the Army Act dis-entitled the petitioner to the grant of extension once the error in the grant of extension was noticed.
(3.) The material facts are not disputed . That the petitioner was due for retirement and would have gone out of service by the end of December, 2005 is not in dispute. That he was granted extension only pursuant to the Government of India policy which permits two years extended service being allowed to such retiring personnel is also not in dispute. Such extension was, however, bound to be and was indeed subject to screening by a Screening Board to be held on Unit/Regiment/Corps/Record Office level with a view to assessing the suitability of the candidate for the grant of that benefit. This is evident from the instructions issued by Army Headquarter by their order dated 21.09.1998 , para 4 whereof reads thus:
"4. Screening All PBOR will be screened for extension by two years by the Screening Board to be held on Unit/Regiment/Corps/Recofds Office basis, as applicable to assess their suitability for extension. The procedure and criteria for screening is laid down in Appx 'A' to this letter.";
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