Assistant Public Prosecutors cannot claim parity with Public Prosecutors in respect of age of superannuation

Supreme Court: A full court, speaking through A.M. Khanwilkar, J. for himself and Dipak Misra, CJ and Dr. D.Y.  Chandrachud, dismissed an appeal filed by the Kerala Assistant Public Prosecutors Association against the decision of Kerala High Court which rejected the claim of the members of appellant association to be treated at par with Public Prosecutors in the matter of age of superannuation.

The appellant association claimed that the Assistant Public Prosecutors (APPs) who are officers of law courts should be treated at parity with Public Prosecutors in the matter of retirement age. It is worth noting that age of retirement of APPs appointed before 31st March 2013, is 56 years, while retirement age of Public Prosecutors is 60 years. Their claim was rejected by the Kerala High Court and therefore appeal was filed before the Apex Court.

The Hon’ble Supreme Court cogitated over the rival submissions of the parties and found no infirmity in the conclusion arrived at by the High Court. The concerned APPs are appointed on the advice of Kerala Public Service Commission, after clearing competitive examination. Whereas, Public Prosecutors are appointed by the Government under Kerala Government Law Officers (Appointment and Conditions of Service) and Conduct of Cases Rules 1978. Their method of appointment and conditions of service are different. The APPs are like any other government servants while the Public Prosecutors, appointed for a period of three years, are not government employees and do not enjoy service benefits like APPs. The Court held that merely because they perform similar functions, the APPs cannot be considered at par with Public Prosecutors to make provision for same retirement age. However, APPs were given liberty to approach the State Government to represent the alternatives as suggested by them. [Kerala Assistant Public Prosecutors Association v. State of Kerala, 2018 SCC OnLine 551, dated 17.05.2018]

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