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Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Different retirement ages for Time Scale and Selection Grade Ranks in the Air Force are discriminatory: Supreme Court

The Supreme Court in a landmark decision today has upheld the order of the Armed Forces Tribunal wherein the discriminatory policy of different retirement ages for the ranks of Group Captain (Time Scale) vis-a-vis Group Captain (Selection Grade) was held illegal and struck down.

The Supreme Court has dismissed the appeal filed by the Ministry of Defence and the Air Force against similarly placed officers led by Gp Capt Atul Shukla, and has concluded the following in strong words:

Suffice it to say that the basis for classification in question for purposes of age of superannuation which the appellant has projected is much too tenuous to be accepted as a valid basis for giving to the Time Scale Officers a treatment different from the one given to the Select Officers.

We are also of the view that concerns arising from a parity in the retirement age of Time Scale and Select Officers too are more perceptional than real. At any rate, such concerns remain to be substantiated on the basis of any empirical data. The upshot of the above discussion is that the classification made by the Government of India for purposes of different retirement age for Time Scale Officers and Select Officers does not stand scrutiny on the touchstone of Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution as rightly held by the Tribunal.

The above closes another yet long tumultuous journey of affected officers. In fact, once the decision was rendered by the AFT, the Air HQ should have taken up a case with the Govt for rationalising the policy rather than unnecessarily challenging it before the Apex Court.

It is high time that litigation against own employees is considered on the touchstone of logic and equity rather than indulging in ego-fuelled appeals. It is time for the political executive to take a call on this and trample on the vicious cycle of luxurious litigation without accountability. 


Vikrant said...

Sir, The discrimination in the services viz a viz the Gp Capt equivalent in the Army & Navy retire at 54, which is also a violation of Article 14 & 16 of the Constitution of India. We as a group of affected officers would like to seek appropriate redressal in an appropriate forum. Request Advice
Vikrant Srivastava

Anonymous said...

Does it apply to flying branch officers also?


This is a welcome judgement. It is not only the age but many factors which involve financial/seniority disparity and promotion criteria. It is irrational. for the risk element there could have been as many as allowances possible for a flying branch officer. but the basic pay should have been the same; depending upon the service conditions,risk appointment etc, allowances could have been made. Again, the promotion to next higher ranks also vary as per the branch; the junior can overtake him in less than 3-4 years;
A VERY SKEWED polic(ies)y.

Unknown said...

Doest it apply to flying branch officers also? Does it mean that F(P) time scale/ select will also retire at 57? Someone please clarify.

Anonymous said...

when will they learn not to maim their own, after their own retirement I guess

Anonymous said...

shame and let the MoD refine itself.

Young50 said...

Flying branch Gp Capt (TS) would retire at 54 years instead of 52 years to be on par with Select Gp Capts of Flying branch. The judgement is very clear today.

Anonymous said...

Time to rise above colonial mindset

Dhoop said...

@Vikrant:"...discrimination in the services...";

The issue of service conditions being different in the Indian Navy was decided on by the Hon'ble Supreme Court in the context of non grant of time scale ranks in the Navy unlike as in Indian Army and Indian Air Force. As far as I recall, the discrimination angle could not be established in that case.

Perhaps Maj Navdeep could enlighten us if it can be argued that retirement in Army and Navy at 54 is discriminatory as in the Air Force retirement age is 57 yrs.

Anonymous said...

This disregard for equity and fairplay is omnipresent and manifests itself in all walks of life in India. I am surprised at the tenacity of those who keep toiling against this without losing hope. May their tribe grow.

Anonymous said...

Its an landmark judgement and we hope more such judgement will come in times to come. Gone are those days when everything could be handled by iron fist. Transparency is the need of an hour and our commanders should stop discriminating on branch, rank select grade etc etc.

Vikrant said...

Dhoop Sir, I agree with your comments and therefore, I am seeking the opinion of Navdeep in this matter!! Hope something positive turns out

Anonymous said...

There is no discrimination between the retirement age of Army, Navy and AF officers as brought out in some blogs. Like army and Navy, the officers of Flying branch of AF, who form major chunk, retire at 54 yrs. The ground duty officers In AF were inducted through special induction process as support arm only and their promotions prospects were and are very very limited.Ground Duty officers get promotion as Gp Capt after a gap of 2 to 5 years vis a vis the officers of Flying branch of Air Force and officer of Navy and Army. Further, Army and Navy do not have any ground duty branches and as such the service conditions and service requirement are different. Almost 70-80% of Ground duty officer of a course get superseded in Gp Capt rank which does not happen with any other arm of other services. Briefly, is apt to say that ground duty officers of IAF got relief in one of many disparities which it faces. If Cdrs do not wake up now and treat all branches with equality, I hope a time will come when all their positions unduly enjoyed for so many years will be kicked out by similar interventions.

corona8 said...

An important consideration would be what about those time-scale Group Captain retirees who were forced into superannuation at the age of 54 and can't be taken back into service now as they have already crossed the age of 57.

Would they have to file cases to be compensated for the loss that they have had to absorb?

dattatreyahg said...

Reading landmark judgements of the Apex-Court in the last few years, I wonder 1) if we are governed by Rule of LAW at all,or as per the whims & Fancies of Govt functionaries 2)if the Govt/ Services HQs have won any case at all related to Pay & Pension matters (in Supreme Court) 3)When SC gives a judgement like in Coalgate case that all govt allocations were illegal( over a decade & more),why legal action is not taken against those responsible for indulging in Illegal actions? 4)Are there separate Laws for the Rulers & the Ruled?

Anonymous said...

can this judgement bring any relief to the TS Gp Capts who were made to retire at the age of 54 yrs.
Can anyone throw some light on this.

Unknown said...

Take an example of two ex NDA officers, one gets grounded an re-streams to ground duties. Both become Group Captains. However the F(P) has to retire at 54 while the GD retires at 57. How justified is this distinction? this has not been addressed as yet.

Anonymous said...

Whatever happened to the mantra of keeping the armed forces young, lean and fit? cadre management problems will increase.

Tika Ram said...

Some one may please clarify whether the benefits,if any,emerging out of this judgement of the SC & before that AFT,Delhi,will be also automatically passed on to similarly placed officers of the IAF,who were not a direct party in the legal proceedings ?Or that they will have to go through the same legal proceedings to get justice ?

Anonymous said...

WHen Army Navy Airforce are under one ministry under same Head of Org and even joining is also from same institution NDA ,serving togather / posting intersevices are done as routine, payscales are same, joining age are same then how can they discriminate on Retirement age among different service officers. This needs to faught in Court and justice should be done to all Cols / CaptNavy officers on priority.

Anonymous said...

Sir, Your comment "........if it can be argued that retirement in Army and Navy at 54 is discriminatory as in the Air Force retirement age is 57 yrs." needs further clarification.

Retirement age of 57 for select (and now TS too) Gp Capts of IAF is LIMITED to officers of the AE(L), AE(M), Met, Lgs, Adm, Accts and Edn branches ONLY.

Flying branch officers of IAF retire at 52 if TS and 54 if select.

This is true and a fact.

So you can see there is discrimination even amongst various branches of IAF.

In fact, till just a couple of years ago (i think the policy changed only in 2010-11), if a flying branch TS officer applied for Pre-Mature Separation from Service (PSS) at age 51 yrs, he would be denied the same citing heavy EXPENDITURE committed by the service in training him.

Yet the same officer would be superannuated the next year at 52 years of age !!

Strange but true.

I have read the original AFT judgement in this case.

Therein, the AFT has ruled that better life expectancy and general health of Indian citizens calls for holistic view of retirement ages - As has happened for college professors, judges and other professions, even the retirement of some Lt Gens has gone from 57 (till 2007) to 60 now.

Can you believe that even in India a commercial pilot can fly till the age of 65 years, if healthy and maintaining his licences.!!

This needs to be corrected all across without discrimination of service, branch or colour of the uniform.

Same grade should mean same retirement age, period.

Anonymous said...

Time scale Gp Capts are treated unfairly on all fronts. Whether it is giving him an appointment worth his experience or retirement age. It is to be understood by the top military leaders that human resources are the backbone of the armed forces. Keeping the morale high during peace is the key to victory during war. The system should treat everyone equally and keep the morale of the forces very high.

Mohinder Singh said...

Sir, I am Asstt Comdt in CRPF and we have similar case of difference in retirement age in the court. I shall be grateful if you may kindly guide me to get a copy of the SC judgement in question. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Sir, In army we have all Cols (SG and TS) retiring at same age i.e at 54. Thereafter one has the option of taking re-employment for 3/4 years based on medical condition. The recent SC ruling on retirement age of 57 in r/o all Wg Cdrs should enable us re-look at our own system in army. Given a choice, every Col would like to serve till 57 and not take re-employment. Why can't we follow the AF pattern now??

Dhoop said...

@Anonymous: "...Retirement age of 57 for select (and now TS too) Gp Capts of IAF is LIMITED to officers of the AE(L), AE(M), Met, Lgs, Adm, Accts and Edn branches ONLY..."

In that case, the rationale has already been provided by another comment by, I presume, a different "Anonymous", which stated, "...Almost 70-80% of Ground duty officer of a course get superseded in Gp Capt rank which does not happen with any other arm of other services. Briefly, is apt to say that ground duty officers of IAF got relief in one of many disparities which it faces...".

If the armed forces need to have a younger age profile for certain roles, one can't argue with that. After all, those were the terms and conditions people accepted voluntarily for being commissioned.

But, where one has to draw a line is discrimination vis a vis members of the same "population group". What constitutes a "population" in this case appears to have been decided most clearly by the Hon'ble Supreme Court.

Certainly, there will be other issues on the lines mentioned by you and each needs to be clearly examined and taken up separately under legal advice.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

SC judgement is very clear in the context of "conditions of service" etc etc one joined the service with and affirms that F(P) Gp Capt (both TS and SG) would retire at 54.
But did the Indian Govt not change the service conditions of all its employeees from 58 to 60?
I mean to say that such a service condition is not therefore an edict that is permanent for eternity.
If the rationale forwarded by the AFT concerning better conditions in India was tenable for Lt Gens earlier and now Gp Capt (TS), then the entire argument of discrimination is valid and could be challeged.
This is an opinion that was garnered during casual interaction with members of of the AFT concerned.
What remains to be done is to prepare irrefutable argument based on the universal dicrimination between Cols and equivalents in the various services/within a service following the VI PC that recommended persuance of common grade pay as the mode to establish inter se status in central govt jobs.
But the Govt could wisely carry this judgement forward by unilaterally initiating administrative steps that would remove such an anomaly/discrimination while also addressing the shortage of officers in our defence forces.
May be one ought not to expect such an initiative from MoD/service HQs.
Also the lady officers of IAF won their case for PC based on discrimination vis-a-vis their male coursemates, whereas, their service conditions while joining also mentioned short service only.


What about different weightage for Lt Col (Selection -7years and For Lt Col substantive-5 years.Can any body justify this.I have not found any answer.Pl do enlighten me I will be thankful.