K.S. Venkataraman, J. -
(1.) This petition has been filed by one Thiru Shankar Rao under Article 226 of the Constitution to issue a writ of certiorari quashing the order dated 11th August, 1969 of the Government of India compulsorily retiring him from the Indian Administrative Service. The impugned order reads as follows:
In pursuance of the powers conferred by Sub -rule (3) of Rule 16 of the All India Services (Death -cum -Retirement Benefits) Rules, 1958, the President in consultation with the Government of Tamil Nadu, is pleased to order the retirement of Thiru P. Shankar Rao, who has already attained the age of 55 years from Indian Administrative Service Cadre of Tamil Nadu, in public interest, on the expiry of three months from the date of service of this order
The first respondent in the petition is the Government of India and the second respondent is the Government of Tamil Nadu. The petitioner who was born on 12th May, 1914 was appointed as Probationary Deputy Collector of the Madras Civil Service in 1942 and was promoted to the Indian Administrative Service in 1955. He served as Collector of the Nilgiris district. Thereafter he was transferred and was, working as Accommodation Controller. He was then served with ten charges arising mainly out of his conduct when he was working as Collector of the Nilgiris. He was suspended pending enquiry. A Board of Enquiry consisting of Thiru M. Anantanarayanan, I.C.S., District Judge (as he then was) and Thiru T.A. Verghese, I.C.S., was constituted to enquire into the charges. They found eight of the charges proved. After consulting the Union Public Service Commission, the Government of india removed him from service by an order dated 21st April, 1960. The petitioner filed W.P. No. 1329 of 1964 against that order. Venkatadri, J., allowed the petition and quashed the order by his judgment dated 20th June, 1967. He found that the findings of the Board of enquiry on the grave charges, namely, charges 1, 2 and 5, were based only on suspicion and on no real evidence. The first respondent filed Writ Appeal No. 376 of 1967. Ramakrishnan and Natesan, JJ., by their judgment dated 6th March, 1969 upheld the findings of Venkatadri, J., and dismissed the appeal. There was no further appeal and by an order dated 23rd July, 1969 the petitioner was reinstated in the I.A.S. When he was working as Accommodation Controller, the impugned order was served on him on 12th August, 1969.
Rule 16, so far as it is relevant, may now be quoted:
Rule 16(1) : A member of the Service shall be required compulsorily to retire from the service with effect from the date on which he attains the age of 58 years.
(3) The Central Government, in consultation with the State Government, may require a member of the service, who has completed 30 years of qualifying service or who has attained the age of 55 years, to retire in public interest provided that at least three months previous notice in writing will be given to the member concerned.
It will be seen that under Sub -rule (1) the petitioner would normally have continued in service till 12th May, 1972, but because of the impugned order he was compelled to retire much earlier.
(2.) The petitioner attacked the order on several grounds in his original affidavit his main contention being that the order was arbitrary and capricious. The first respondent filed a counter -affidavit of Thiru Sec. Narasimhan, Under Secretary to the Government of India, Ministry of Home Affairs, and took the stand that the Government of India was not required to give any reasons for reaching their decision. This stand was persisted in by them before Ismail, J., before whom the petition came up for hearing first. But eventually the Government did not persist in their stand and offered to give reasons which weighed with them and also to produce the concerned files. Opportunity was given for that purpose. By that time the petitioner had filed a reply affidavit. The first respondent filed a further counter -affidavit mentioning the reasons and the petitioner filed a further reply affidavit. It was stated before Ismail, J., that, among other things, the first respondent wanted to rely on certain observations of Ramakrishnan and Natesan, JJ., In view of that circumstance Ismail, J., felt it desirable that the petition should be heard by a Bench and that is how the matter has come before us.
(3.) The main question in the writ petition is whether the impugned order was arbitrary. But before deciding that question it will be convenient to clear the ground of some preliminary matters. Though in his affidavits the petitioner contended that Rule 16(3) did not prescribe guidelines to the Central Government and would give scope for discrimination against officers whom they did not like and was, therefore, void under Article 14 of the Constitution, Thiru Chellaswamy, the learned Counsel for the petitioner, stated at the time of the hearing that he was not questioning the vires of the rule. He recognised that the criterion of public interest for compulsorily retiring an officer under Rule 16(3) would itself be a sufficient guideline, and he himself cited Butail v/s. Union of India : (1970) ILLJ 147 Del , (confirmed by the Supreme me Court in C.A. Nos. 1614 to 1616 of 1968 dated 8th September, 1970). He also stated that, having regard to the several decisions of the Supreme Court, he could not urge that compulsory retirement under Rule 16(3) would be a punishment so as to require the Central Government to adopt the procedure enjoined by Article 311 of the Constitution. In other words, he conceded that it was not necessary to give the petitioner a reasonable opportunity of making a representation as to why the order should not have been passed. In view of this concession, it is unnecessary to discuss the several cases cited at the bar, and it would be enough to mention the more important of them: Shyamkl y. State of Utter Pradesh and Union of India : (1954) IILLJ 139 SC , State of Bombay v/s. Saubhagchand M. Doshi :  1 SCR 571 Moti Ram Deka v/s. General Manager N.E.F. Railways : (1964) IILLJ 467 SC , Sivacharan's case : (1967) IILLJ 246 SC , Saxena's case : (1976) IILLJ 154 SC , State of U.P. v/s. Madan Mohan : (1967) IILLJ 63 SC , and Union of India v/s. J.N. Sinha : (1970) IILLJ 284 SC .;