SRINAGAR (J&K) — The Lieutenant Governor-led administration of Jammu and Kashmir Union Territory amended the J&K Civil Service Regulations on 22nd October 2020, in order to introduce some new rules.
While introducing the changes, the administration had maintained that the new set of rules were introduced in public interest.
In response, the government was criticized when the new rules were framed with many saying that they were aimed at hounding government employees.
The New Rule of Premature Retirement
According to the amended rules, any civil servant in the UT can be retired after 22 years of service or after attaining the age of 48 years. This is the biggest change in the Jammu & Kashmir Civil Service Regulations, especially after the special status of the erstwhile State of Jammu and Kashmir (including Ladakh) was abrogated by the BJP-led Central government.
Announcing the changes, a notification issued by the UT’s Department of Finance in October 2020 said, “In exercise of powers conferred under provision to Article 309 of the Constitution of India, the Lieutenant Governor is pleased to direct that Article 226 (2) of the Jammu and Kashmir Service Regulations may be substituted as follows:
226 (2): Notwithstanding anything contained in these regulations, the government may, if it is of the opinion that it is in public interest to do so, require any government servant other than one working on a post which is included in Schedule II of these rules, to retire at any time after he has completed 22 years of qualifying service or on attaining 48 years of age, provided that the Appropriate Authority shall give a notice to Government servant at least 3 months before the date on which he is required to retire or 3 months of pay and allowance in lieu of such notice”
Provision of Pensionary Benefits Allowed
It added, “Such a government servant shall be granted pensionary benefits admissible under these rules on the basis of qualifying service put in by him on the date of such retirement.”
Outlining the time schedule to be followed, it stated that “the exercise of review of performance of the Government Servants will be initiated for each Government Servant for the first time after her/his completion of 22 years of Government Service or attaining 48 years of age and any time subsequently, as may be required.”
“A register of the Government servants who are due to attain the age of 48 years or to complete 22 years of service, has to be maintained by the Administrative Department. The register should be scrutinized at the beginning of every year by officers to be nominated by the Administrative Department concerned and the review be undertaken,” it informed.
Broad Criteria for Premature Retirement
The broad criteria to be followed by the Review Committee, while making the recommendations for premature retirements are:
- The integrity of the Government servant is doubtful.
- The Government servant is found to be ineffective in his/her work. The basic consideration in identifying such Government servants should be their fitness competence to continue in the post held and their utility for the purpose for which they are employed.
To simplify the Review Committee’s task, the notification explained, “A Government servant is ineffective, if, his service during the preceding 5 years or since his last promotion has deteriorated suddenly or substantially. This is not a consideration, however, where the Government servant is to be retired on grounds of doubtful integrity.”
While considering the case of the Government employees, the Review Committee has been directed to ensure that there is sufficient material in support of its recommendation, clearly outlining the grounds for such retirement and supported by well-reasoned recommendations.
The recommendations of Review Committee will be put up for consideration and orders of the Lieutenant Governor in coordination.
First Case of Premature Retirement
The Jammu and Kashmir Board of School Education (JKBOSE) became the first government department in the UT to prematurely retire an employee on November 30, 2020 after over a month from the date of announcing new rules.
JKBOSE issued a notice to one of its Class-IV employees Fayaz Ahmad Siraj to retire from service as he had completed 27 years of service on October 14.
Like it was given out by the administration earlier, Chairperson of the JKBOSE Veena Pandita, while issuing the order on November 27, had also stated that it was in the “public interest” to do so.
UT Administration Under Fire for Amendments
It is pertinent to mention that the significant change of ‘forced’ retirements has raised eyebrows as government employees have started to feel the heat with the government being empowered to compulsorily retire any civil servant whose performance or integrity comes into question.
However, many experts argue that this could also pave the way for the sacking of such civil servants whose activities are detrimental to the peace and sovereignty of the country.