1. This is an application under Articles 226 and 227 of the Constitution against order No. 9110, dated the 1st August 1964 of the Appointment Department of the Government of Bihar (Annexure C), directing the compulsory retirement of the petitioner from Government service after the expiry of a period of three months from the date on which the order was served on him
2. The petitioner's date of birth appears to be the 13th March 1908. He joined Government service in 1933 and after holding various posts was promoted to officiate as Deputy Secretary of the Legislative Department in 1962. Under the rules then in force he would have superannuated on attaining his 55th year on the 13th March 1963. The Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, under whom the petitioner was working, first wrote to the Government in his letter, dated the 23rd May 1963 (Annexure I to the counter-affidavit) that the petitioner may be given six months' notice and asked to retire. Subsequently in his letter, dated the 31st May 1963 (Annexure II of the counter-affidavit), he informed the Government that he was not fully satisfied with the work of the petitioner, adding that the petitioner was unable to do that amount of work which he was required to do. After considering his report the Government issued the impugned order on the 1st August 1964, in the following terms:--
"No. 9110. In accordance with the provisions contained in Para 2, Finance Department's Memo. No. FI-501/63-10583, dated the 24th August 1963, the Governor of Bihar is pleased to order that Shri Vishwamitra, Officiating Deputy Secretary to the Bihar Legislative Assembly, who has already attained the age of 55 years, should retire from Government service after expiry of the period of three months from the date on which this order is served on him."
3. Prior to 1963 the rule regarding superannuation of Government servants was regulated by Rule 73 (a) of the Bihar Service Code, which was as follows:--
"73 (a). Except as provided in other clauses of this rule the date of compulsory retirement a Government servant, other than a ministerial or inferior Government servant, is the date on which he attains the age of 55 years He may be retained in service after the date of compulsory retirement with the sanction of the State Government on public grounds, which must be recorded in writing."
But when the Government of India raised the age of retirement of Government servants from 55 to 58 years, the Government of Bihar also, with a view to fall in line with the Government of India- issued the following instructions on the 11th January 1963:--
"(i) The State Government servants, who are due to retire after the 14th January 1963, at ages below 58 years, should be continued in service until they are 58. Also Government servants on extension of service on the 15th January 1963, should be allowed to continue in service upto the age of 58 years. Provided that a Government servant on attaining 55 years of age will have the option to retire after giving three months' notice; Government will also have the powers to retire him after giving three months' notice.
On the 24th August 1963, the Government of Bihar issued the following further instructions in modification of the instructions issued on the 11th January 1963:--
"Subject:--Age of compulsory retirement--Raising of.
The undersigned is directed to refer to Finance Department Resolution No. FI-5021/ 62-452-F, dated 11-1-63 on the above subject and to say that the age of compulsory retirement of State Government servants should be 58 years subject to the following exceptions:--
(i) The existing rules under which ministerial Government servants are to be ordinarily retained in service upto the age of 60 years subject to their continuing to be efficient and physically fit will remain in force.
(ii) The age of compulsory retirement for those categories of Class IV staff who arc at present entitled to serve upto the age of 60 years should continue to be 60 years subject to the existing conditions.
2. Notwithstanding anything contained in the foregoing paragraphs the appointing authority may require a Government servant to retire after he attains the age of 55 years on three months' notice without assigning any reason. This will be in addition to the provisions already contained in Rule 74 of the Bihar Service Code and Rule 1 (a) of the Liberalised Pension Rules, and will normally be exercised to weed out unsuitable employees after they have attained the age of 55 years. The Government servant also may, after attaining age of 55 years, Voluntarily retire after giving three months' notice to the appointing authority.
3. These provisions will have effect from 15th January 1963.
4. The amendment of the relevant rules will be issued in due course.
4. The State Government's contention is that after the attainment of 55 years age a Government servant has no right to continue in his post and that the Government have full discretion to terminate his services, even without assigning any reason, after giving him three months' notice. It is true that Para. 2 of the instructions, dated the 24th August 1963 (Annexure B). stated that this power will "normally be exercised to weed out unsuitable employees after they have attained the age of 55 years'. It was urged that in view of the report of the Speaker about the nature of the work of the petitioner the Government was fully justified in terminating his services after giving him three months' notice.
5. On behalf of the petitioner it was urged that the word "after" occurring in Para, 2 of the instructions of the Government, dated the 24th August 1963 should, in the context, be construed as "soon after", and that the power of the Government to terminate the services of a Government servant after he attains the age of 55 must be exercised within a reasonable time after he has attained that age and that it cannot be exercised at any time between 55 years and 58 years. In the Oxford English Dictionary, the expression "after" when used as adverb of time has been given the following meaning: "Subsequently", "at a later time" "'afterwards". In combination with another adverb of time or adverbial phrase, such as "soon after", "long after", "an hour", "a year after" it has a slightly different meaning. The word "after" will not ordinarily mean "immediately after" or "soon after" unless those words precede the word "after". Hence, as a matter of construction, I cannot accept the contention of learned Counsel for the petitioner that the power to terminate the services after giving three months' notice must be exercised soon after the Government servant has attained 55 years. It can be exercised at any time between the 55th year and the 58th year of the Government servant, provided the requisite three months' notice is given.
6. The only other point urged is about the unconstitutionally of the instructions of the Government, dated the 24th August 1963, on the ground that they conferred an unfettered discretion on the Government to discriminate between various classes of Government servants who might have attained 55 years, and that, consequently, they are violative of Article 14 of the Constitution. I have dealt with this point fully in P.N. Choudhary v. State of Bihar, (Civil Writ Jurisdiction Case No. 868 of 1965, decided today (Pat)) and it is unnecessary to repeat the same here.
7. For these reasons, the application is dismissed with costs. Hearing fee: Rs. 50.
8. I agree.