The Supreme Court has held that enhancement of Superannuation age is a policy matter and set aside an Allahabad High Court judgment quashing the decision to give retrospective effect to enhance the retirement age by the New Okhla Industrial Development Authority (NOIDA).
The Court was hearing an appeal filed by NOIDA questioning the correctness of the judgment of High Court directing the that retrospective effect should be given to the decision taken by the NOIDA in September 2012, to enhance the retirement age of its employees from 58 to 60.
The bench of Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice M.R. Shah observed, “The infirmity in the judgment lies in the fact that the High Court has trenched upon the realm of policy making and has assumed to itself, jurisdiction over a matter which lies in the domain of the executive. Whether the age of superannuation should be increased and if so, the date from which this should be effected is a matter of policy into which the High Court ought not to have entered.”
The Court further observed that Whether the decision to increase the age of superannuation should date back to the resolution passed by NOIDA or should be made effective from the date of the approval by the State government was a matter for the State government to decide. Ultimately, in drawing every cut-off, some employees would stand on one side of the line while the others would be positioned otherwise. This element of hardship cannot be a ground for the High Court to hold that the decision was arbitrary. When the State government originally decided to increase the age of superannuation of its own employees from fifty eight to sixty years on 28 November 2001, it had left the public sector corporations to take a decision based on the financial impact which would result if they were to increase the age of superannuation for their own employees.
The Apex Court concluded that since enhancement of the age of superannuation is a ‘public function’ channelised by the provisions of the statute and the service regulations, the doctrine of promissory estoppel cannot be used to challenge the action of the NOIDA.