SC: No Parity to Asstt Public Prosecutors with Public Prosecutors in Superannuation


May 18, 2018

Case name: The Kerala Assistant Public Prosecutors Association v. The State of Kerala & ors.

Date of Judgment: May 17, 2018

In this recent verdict delivered by the Apex Court yesterday, the Court refused to grant parity to Assistant Public Prosecutors in the matter of age of retirement with that of the Public Prosecutors in the State of Kerala.

The Appellant Association in the case approached the Supreme Court challenging Kerala High Court’s order whereby the High Court had rejected the claim for grant of parity to Assistant Public Prosecutors, in the matter of retirement age, with Public Prosecutors in the State.

The Appellant’s basic contention was that the nature of duties, functions and powers of both Assistant Public Prosecutors and Public Prosecutors were similar. However, the maximum age for appointment of Public Prosecutors, for a term of 3 years, is 60 years; whereas the age of retirement of Assistant Public Prosecutors appointed prior to 31st March, 2013 is 56 years.

The Respondent State on the other hand submitted that the mode of appointment and selection of Assistant Public Prosecutors and Pubic Prosecutors were entirely different. The State also apprised that the Assistant Public Prosecutors appointed on or before 31st March, 2013 were entitled to the benefit of statutory pension as in the case of other government employees, whose age of superannuation has been fixed at 56 years.

Bench’s Verdict

The Supreme Court Bench headed by Chief Justice Dipak Misra dismissed the appeal and refused to interfere with Kerala High Court’s order. While rejecting the claim of the appellant to accord parity in respect of age of superannuation at 60 years to the Assistant Public Prosecutors appointed on or before 31st March, 2013, the Apex Court made following observations:

  • That 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.
  • That 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.
  • That the Public Prosecutors 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. That the Government is also free to re-appoint any person appointed as Public Prosecutor for a further period subject to eligibility.
  • That 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 9 March, 2013 and those who joined on or after 1st April, 2013, the said contention is also devoid of merits inasmuch as the conditions of service of the concerned set of Assistant Public Prosecutors is distinct.

About the Author

Shilpi Sharan

- Shilpi Sharan is the Editor at Vakilno1.com - an Advocate with extensive knowledge in myriad fields of Law. She has a flair of writing and has legal publications in national and international law magazines to her credit. She focuses on legal research and aims at raising public awareness of laws in India.