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Thursday, September 25, 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
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.