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No employee can claim VRS as matter of right, says SC

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, Sep 10 (UNI) In a significant ruling, the Supreme Court has held that no employee can claim voluntary retirement as a matter of right and it is the absolute discretion of the employer to accept or reject the offer of voluntary retirement made by an employee.

A bench comprising Justice A R Lakshmanan and Justice Tarun Chatterjee, in its judgment dated September 6, allowed the appeal filed by the Board of Trustees, Vishakhapatnam Port Trust and others against the High Court judgment directing the appellants to consider the offer of two employees who had already attained the cut-off age of 58 years before seeking voluntary retirement.

With a view to reducing surplus manpower, the Union Ministry of Surface Transport now called the Ministry of Shipping, Road Transport and Highways brought out a voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) in 1991 and it was made applicable to all the ports in the country.

The respondents T S N Raju and another applied for VRS benefits but their offer was rejected as they had already reached the age 58 years, which was the cut-off age.

The apex court, while setting aside the High Court judgment, ruled, ''The Port Trust authorities had the absolute discretion whether to accept or reject the request of the employee seeking voluntary retirement under the scheme. There is no assurance that such an application would be accepted without any consideration.'' The court concluded by observing, ''In our opinion, the chairman is competent to frame the scheme having regard to the exigencies of work and no one can claim vlountary retirement as of right. We have no hesitation in coming to the conclusion that VRS was not a proposal nor an offer but merely an invitation to treat the application filed by the employees.'' UNI AKS/SC SK VP1105

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