Employees can withdraw request for voluntary retirement before superannuation: CAT

The Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) in Srinagar has held that an employee has the right to withdraw a request for Voluntary Retirement from Service (VRS) before the date of his or her superannuation, even if it has been accepted by the employer.

“If VRS is moved by an employee and gets accepted before the date of retirement is reached, the employee has the right to withdraw the request for VRS,” said a bench comprising Judicial Member, M S Latif and Administrative Member, Prasant Kumar, while relying on the Supreme Court’s judgment.

The tribunal was hearing a plea by an employee of Prasar Bharti Broadcasting Corporation of India, Radio Kashmir, Srinagar, who had sought voluntary retirement under Rule-48(A) of CCS (Pension) Rules, 1972 after she had completed her 20 years of qualifying service.

She gave a letter for VRS on 17 May 1999, expressing her desire to retire voluntarily from April 1st, 2000 particularly when the leave was sanctioned in her favour till March 31, 2000.

Then by another letter dated January 10, 2000, she requested the competent authorities for withdrawal of her notice for VRS.

However, the authorities issued two back-to-back orders, one dated March 21, 2000, and another on March 22, 2000, declining her request for withdrawal of VRS.

Before the tribunal, the question for determination was whether the employee was entitled to withdraw her request for voluntary retirement from service she had made vide letter dated January 10, 2000, received by the authorities on January 29, 2000, regarding withdrawing her earlier request dated February 16, 1999, and May 17, 1999.

While her request was accepted by the authorities on March 21, 2000, however, for VRS the effect was accorded from April 1, 2000.

Thereafter, vide order dated March 22, 2000, the withdrawal request made by the employee for VRS with effect from April 1, 2000, after having been considered by the competent authority was not accepted.

Opposing the plea, the authorities contended that the application for withdrawal of voluntary retirement was submitted nearly one year after the submission of the original request for voluntary retirement for which, they said, no justification was provided.

They contended that in terms of Rule 48-A(4) of CCS (Pension) Rules, 1972, the applicant did not have the unilateral right to withdraw her request for voluntary retirement and such request could only be withdrawn with the approval of the competent authority after considering the grounds made in the application for withdrawal of VRS.

“Admittedly, the effect, for VRS was to be given from April 1, 2000, which established that the applicant on the date of withdrawal of her request till the issuance of the order impugned was in the jural relationship with the respondents( authorities) and had not ceased to be the employee of the respondents,” the tribunal said.

It said that the applicant as such was within her right to withdraw the request for VRS before April 1, 2000, in the forenoon as the request of withdrawal was before the last date fixed in the order impugned which is April 1, 2000.

The tribunal held that authorities could not have refused to accept the withdrawal letter of the woman employee as it was sent before the “jural relationship of the applicant (employee) came to an end”.

“Unless the concerned employee is relieved of duties after acceptance of the offer of VRS or resignation, jural relationship of the employer and the employee does not come to an end,” the tribunal said and subsequently quashed orders by which the employee was not treated in service till the date of actual superannuation (read August 31, 2015).

“In our humble opinion a prospective resignation or VRS remains mute and inoperative till the date on which it was intended to take effect is reached and can be withdrawn and rendered non-est at any time before such date,” the bench said.

The tribunal pointed out that in the instant case the VRS of the applicant was to be given effect from April 1, 2000, and the request for withdrawal was dated January 10, 2000.

“We, therefore, hold that the respondents could not have refused to accept the withdrawal letter of the applicant as it was sent before the jural relationship of the applicant came to an end,” it said.

However, the CAT declined the employee’s plea seeking payment of salary till the date of superannuation on the principle of ‘no work no pay’, underlining that she had not worked during that period.

Nevertheless, the CAT said that the period shall be counted for the calculation of pension to be computed by the authorities by rules.

“Since the applicant has been litigating for the past 24 years it is expected that the respondents will do the needful with due dispatch, preferably within 10 weeks from the date a copy of the judgment is served upon the respondent Department,” the CAT said. “In our humble opinion, a prospective resignation or VRS remains mute and inoperative till the date on which it was intended to take effect is reached and can be withdrawn and rendered non-est at any time before such date.”

The tribunal pointed out that in the instant case, the VRS of the applicant was to be given effect from April 1, 2000, and the withdrawal request was dated January 10, 2000.

“We, therefore, hold that the respondents could not have refused to accept the withdrawal letter of the applicant as it was sent before the jural relationship of the applicant came to an end,” it said.

 

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