NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court on Thursday struck down the rules which fixed 57 years as the retirement age for the rank of commandant and below in the three Central and Allied Police Forces (CAPFs) -- CRPF, BSF and ITBP -- saying it was discriminatory, unconstitutional and created two classes is the three services.
A bench of Justices S Muralidhar and Sanjeev Narula struck down the rules saying that such discrimination would lead to "lowering of the morale" of the CAPF personnel.
The bench said its decision would also be applicable to all the other CAPFs, including Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) if they have the same rules on the superannuation age as in the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) and the Border Security Force (BSF).
It gave four months to the Ministry of Home Affairs, which is opposed to changing the age of retirement of CAPF personnel of commandant and below ranks, to take all consequential steps for implementing the court's judgement.
"This will include arriving at a decision as regards the retirement age which will uniform for all members of the CAPFs irrespective of their rank thus bringing all of them, including the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and the Assam Rifles (AR), on par and fixing the date from which such changed retirement age will take effect," the court said in its 70 page verdict.
The decision came on a batch of petitions seeking that the retirement age of CAPF personnel of the concerned ranks be enhanced to 60 years at par with the officers above the rank of Commandant in the three forces.
The bench held that the petitioners "have made out a case of discrimination", and said that "such differentiation has no nexus with the object sought to be achieved" -- to keep high the morale of the CAPFs.
It also said that among the CAPFs "a differential treatment is given to those belonging to the AR, CISF, where all members in all ranks retire at the age of 60 years.
Whereas, in the BSF, CRPF and ITBP two classes have been created where officers above the rank of commandant retire at the age of 60 and all other ranks retire at the age of 57".
The court further noted that the Seventh Central Pay Commission (CPC), which had examined the issue, by a majority of 2:1 had favoured the enhancement of the retirement age of the commandant and below ranks in the three CAPFs.
"The concerned CAPFs themselves i.e. the BSF, CRPF, ITBP and SSB have also favoured the removal of the discrimination," the bench added.
"The CAPFs have become an indispensable part of the security apparatus in the country. It is difficult to think that the government whether at the Centre or at the States would be able to combat the serious challenges of safety and security and of its people without the participation and the sacrifices made by members of the CAPFs.
"Their morale definitely needs to be preserved. Discrimination in the matter of the age of retirement amongst members of two wings of the CAPFs will contribute to lowering the morale rather than bolstering it," the court said while striking down the age limit of 57 years.
The court, however, clarified that the judgement "will not have the effect of reinstatement of the petitioners who have already retired".
"In view of the principle of 'no work, no pay', it will also not have the effect of their being entitled to any arrears of pay for any further period beyond their retirement.
However, for the purposes of calculation of retiral benefits, including pension and gratuity, the differential period (in the event of enhancement of the retirement age) will be added to period of service actually rendered by each of them.
"In other words, their notional date of retirement would be arrived at by adding the differential years to their actual date of retirement.
On such calculation they would be entitled to the arrears of retirement benefits after adjusting the amount already paid," the bench said and disposed of the pleas.