18 May 2020


Judgments

Supreme Court

The Kerala Assistant Public Prosecutors Association Vs. The State of Kerala and Ors.

MANU/SC/0578/2018

17.05.2018

Service

Same nature of duties and functions of Assistant Public Prosecutors and Public Prosecutors per se, cannot be the basis to claim parity

The Appellant Association has assailed the judgment passed by the High Court, whereby the High Court rejected the claim for grant of parity to Assistant Public Prosecutors, in the matter of retirement age, with Public Prosecutors in the State. According to the Appellant, Assistant Public Prosecutors are appointed to the Magistrate Court to conduct prosecutions as per Section 25 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 (CrPC). The Public Prosecutors are also appointed to conduct prosecutions in the Sessions Court under Section 24 of the CrPC. The nature of duties, functions and powers of both Assistant Public Prosecutors and Public Prosecutors are similar. The Public Prosecutors as well as the Assistant Public Prosecutors act as officers of the Court, when appearing in Court and both have an important role in the criminal justice system. The Appellant claims that, Assistant Public Prosecutors are also entitled to be treated at par with Public Prosecutors and other officers whose age of superannuation is specified at 60 years.

The High Court rightly opined that, the method of appointment and conditions of service of Assistant Public Prosecutors and Public Prosecutors are qualitatively different. Assistant Public Prosecutors are appointed through a competitive selection process conducted by the Kerala Public Service Commission as per the Rules in vogue. After appointment, Assistant Public Prosecutors are entitled to all service benefits as are enjoyed by the other government employees without any exception. Public Prosecutors, however, are appointed from a panel of advocates furnished by the Advocate General and the term of appointment of Public Prosecutors is for a period of 3 years only. They are not considered as government employees and do not derive any service benefits as in the case of government employees. They can even be terminated by the Government at any time before the expiry of normal term of appointment, without assigning any reason. The Government is also free to re-appoint any person appointed as Public Prosecutor for a further period subject to eligibility. The fact that the nature of duties and functions of Assistant Public Prosecutors and Public Prosecutors are similar, per se, cannot be the basis to claim parity with Public Prosecutors in respect of age of superannuation.

The fact that Assistant Public Prosecutors are considered as officers of the Court as in the case of Public Prosecutors, can be no basis to equate them with the judicial officers whose method of appointment and conditions of service are distinct. The issue on hand cannot be decided merely on the basis of comparison of the nature of duties and functions of Public Prosecutors and Assistant Public Prosecutors.

As regards the disparity in the age of superannuation of the Assistant Public Prosecutors appointed on or before 31st March, 2013 and those who joined on or after 1st April, 2013, the said contention is also devoid of merits as the conditions of service of the concerned set of Assistant Public Prosecutors is distinct. In that, those appointed on or before 31st March, 2013 are governed by the statutory pension scheme under the Service Rules as in the case of other government employees; and those appointed on or after 1st April, 2013 are governed by the new Contributory Pension Scheme made applicable to all the government employees and not limited to Assistant Public Prosecutors. Assistant Public Prosecutors are only a small Section of the genre of State Government employees-be it appointed prior to 31st March, 2013 or on or after 1st April, 2013, either governed by statutory Pension Scheme or the new Contributory Pension Scheme, as the case may be. The cut-off date of 1st April, 2013 for introducing the new Contributory Pension Scheme by the State Government is not the subject matter of challenge in the present case. Appeal dismissed.

Tags : Retirement age Parity Grant

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