A Day of Two Years

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The new rule which increases the retirement age of government employees, from 58 to 60 has been implemented. There are some employees who lost out on this benefit just because of one day. Qazi Zaid reports

Employees-Protesting-in-SrinagarDuring the cabinet meeting of June 3, that was presided over by Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister, Omar Abdullah, it was decided to increase the retirement age of state employees from 58 to 60, on par with the Central Government employees. The move has been criticized by the opposition Peoples’ Democratic Party (PDP) as “saving the chair campaign” of the National Conference, which faced the shameful defeat in the Lok Sabha elections in J&K. Although the retirement age of Government employees has been increased, there are some which are not happy in the way the order has been passed and implemented.

Nisar Ahmed is one such person. “The new rule says that employees are to retire at 60. This is for those who are still under service in the month of June, the month in which the order was passed. Although I should retire in the end of June, which would make this benefit available for me, I am being retired in May even though my Date of birth is 1st June,” says Nisar.

According to article 226(1) of the constitution of J&K, all government employees are to retire on completing the age of retirement. Nisar Ahmed’s is born on June 1st and reaches his retirement of 58 in June 2014, as per the old rule. As a norm, those born on the first of a month retire on the last day of the previous month and everyone else retires at the end of the month in which they are born. Although Nisar should retire on 30th of June, he was retired on 31st of May. Advocate Mohammad Yusuf Bhat, has filed a writ petition, demanding that those born on the 1st of any month, should retire at the end of the same month, rather than the end of the previous month. “Anyone who is born on the 2nd of a month will retire on the end of that month, but surprisingly anyone born on the first will retire on the end of previous month. This is a violation and we will challenge this in court,” says Yusuf. There are 20 to 30 other people, who share Nisar’s date of birth and have retired before June and have thus not been able to benefit from the new rule.

“There are other people whose date of birth is 2nd June or mid June, and they had to retire at the end of June. But now because of the new order they will get two extra years in service. Technically, I should retire in the end of June too and should get two years in service according to the new retirement age. But due to an unconstitutional norm, I am being deprived of this. How is this Justice?” questions Nisar.

Nisar who hails from Keran, retired as a Ward officer with the state’s Municipal Corporation. He has a daughter who is still studying in class 12th. “It would help me to educate her better if I was given the benefit of the new rule as I should get it. Just because of a loophole in the system, why should my family suffer? If other people are given the benefits of the new rule and I am entitled to the same, why is justice not being done?” he adds.

Although there are many who have criticized the move as an election gimmick, there has been some praise too. On increasing the retirement age, Chief Spokesperson of PDP had said that the state Government after beating the employees for the past six years and jailing them in large numbers had ultimately done what was needed. Last year in Chattisgarh, Chief Minister Raman Singh declared that retirement age of the employees of the Chattisgarh Government will be increased from 60 to 62. Retirement age of the employees for the central government for now remains 60. In the election manifesto released in May, the Samajhwadi Party promised to increase the retirement age of the state employees to 65.

In the symbolism and politics of the moves of governments to secure their vote banks, people like Nisar are caught with little hope for justice. Among the 20 or so people, Gulzar Qureshi, Ex – Director, Industries and Commerce also shares his date of birth with Nisar and hopes the court will decide in their favour. Nisar says, “I believe justice will be done. God willingly, when the petition is brought in front of the court they will understand our view and give the decision in our favour. When my daughter asks me why do other officers born in the same month go to work and I am sitting at home, I have no answer. I want to be able to give her that answer.”

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