The Supreme Court dismissed appeal against the Madras High Court order on Ashok Vardhan Shetty's decision to retire voluntarily

The Supreme Court has declined to interfere with an order of the Madras High Court affirming the decision of the Central Administrative Tribunal allowing senior IAS officer K. Ashok Vardhan Shetty to retire voluntarily.

A Bench of Justices T.S. Thakur and Vikramajit Sen dismissed the special leave petition filed by the State of Tamil Nadu against the Madras High Court judgment dated August 27, 2012. In a brief order the Bench said “we have heard the parties at considerable length. We do not see any error in the interpretation placed by the courts below upon the provisions of the relevant Rules to call for interference in exercise of our power under Article 136 of the Constitution. The SLP is accordingly dismissed.”

Mr. Shetty belonged to the 1983 batch of IAS officers, Tamil Nadu cadre and attained the age of 50 on July 31, 2007 and he became eligible for voluntary retirement under Rule 16 (2) of the All India Service (Death cum Retirement Benefits) Rules. He gave a notice to the state government on September 8, 2011 to proceed on voluntary retirement on personal reasons and the effective date of retirement on expiry of three months notice was December 9, 2011.

However, on December 7, 2011 the State government intimated to him that his voluntary retirement was not being accepted as an enquiry by the investigating agency concerned was pending. As he was not allowed to retire, he moved the Central Administrative Tribunal contending that under Rule 16 (2) only the Central government had the power to exercise jurisdiction and not the State government and hence the order passed by the Stated rejecting his request for voluntary retirement was done with mala fide intentions. The CAT accepted his contentions and gave him relief. The State’s appeal against this order was dismissed by the Madras High Court and the present SLP is directed against this order.

In the SLP the State took the stand that Mr. Shetty’s voluntary retirement was not accepted as an enquiry was pending and that he was not given a relieving order. Rejecting this stand Mr. Shetty argued that a mere preliminary enquiry was not a bar to voluntary retirement as only a suspension could be a bar as per the first proviso to Rule 16(2).  Since he was never under suspension and had an impeccable record, his voluntary retirement automatically came into force on expiry of the notice period i.e. on 9.12.2011. He said a relieving order by the State Government was not necessary in such circumstances. Therefore, he duly handed over charge to his deputy on the afternoon of 9.12.2011, and informed this legal and factual position to the government on December 10.12.20011.” The Bench accepted his contentions and dismissed the SLP.

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