K. Nagraja v. State of Andhra Pradesh

In the Supreme Court of India  
Name of the CaseK. Nagaraja & Ors. v. State of Andhra Pradesh and Anr.  
Citation1985 AIR 551, 1985 SCR (2) 579  
Year of the Case1985  
AppellantK. Nagaraja & Ors.  
RespondentState of Andhra Pradesh and Anr.  
Bench/ JudgesY. Chandrachud (CJ); R.S. Pathak, J; Sabyasachi Mukharji, J.  
Acts InvolvedAndhra Pradesh Public Employment (Regulation of Conditions of Service) Ordinance, 1983; Andhra Pradesh Fundamental Rules, Hyderabad Civil Services Rules, The Constitution of India, 1949.  
Important SectionsGAD, dated 8/2/83 and Notification read with the Andhra Pradesh Public Employment (Regulation of Conditions of Service) Ordinance, 1983; Rule 2 and Rule 56 of Andhra Pradesh Fundamental Rules; Rule 231 of the Hyderabad Civil Service Rules; Article 14, 16, 21, 300A of the Constitution of India.  

This landmark judgement was decided by the Honourable Supreme Court of India that revolved around a government order that directed to reduce the superannuation an retirement age of the Government Employees of the State of Andhra Pradesh. The writ petition that was filed was dismissed by the court in this case.


In the year 1983, a now party known as Telugu Desam Party grabbed power in the state of Andhra Pradesh. The Government of Andhra Pradesh passed an order directing to reduce the age of superannuation for all the Government employees (except those in last grade services) from 58 years to 55 years. This instruction was issued just after a month of gaining power, i.e. on February 8th, 1983. In exercise of the power bestowed by the provisions of Article 309[1] and Article 313[2] of the Constitution, two notifications were added. As a result, fundamental rights and Hyderabad Civil Services Rules were amended by both notifications respectively. The notification instructed the retirement of every government servant who had attained the age of 55 years not belonging to last grade services and regardless of ministerial or non-ministerial background. About 18,000 government employees and 10,000 public sector employees were superannuated because of these actions. The order for reduction of age was justified by the Chief Minister to provide more employment opportunities to the youth. Consequently, writ petitions were filed by some of the employees to challenge the constitutionality on the ground of Article 14[3], 16[4], 21[5] and 311(2).[6]


The case involved following issues:

  • Whether the said order and notification passed was relevant or not?
  • Whether the mentioned order and notification violates Article 14 of the Constitution?
  • Whether the mentioned order and notification violates Article 16 of the Constitution?
  • Whether the mentioned order and notification violates Article 21 of the Constitution?
  • Whether the mentioned order and notification violates Article 311(2) of the Constitution?

Relevant Provisions:

  1. The Constitution of India: Article 14, Article 16, Article 21 Article 309, Article 311(2) and Article 313.
  2. Andhra Pradesh Fundamental Rules: Rule 2 and Rule 56
  3. Hyderabad Civil Service Rule- Rule 231 regarding Retirement Benefits
  4. G.O.M.S- 35 (GAD, dated 8.2.83 and Notification read with  the Andhra  Pradesh Public    Employment (Regulation of Conditions  of Service) Ordinance


In this case, the Petitioner opposed the decision of reducing the age of retirement from 58 years to 55 years as nothing had happened since the previous order to raise age limit from 55 years to 58 years was passed, i.e. on October 29, 1979. Another contention raised from the same side was that fixing the age of retirement had no relevance with providing employment opportunities to the youth. Besides this, the authority exercised by the government was arbitrary (subjective) in nature and ignored the relevant factors required to fix the retirement age. As per them, it was an unreasonable action of not providing any notice regarding the same, which would have enabled the aggrieved employees to organize the matters before retirement. Also, the increase of retirement age given to the employees in 1979 contradicted with the present order; therefore, the new decision could only be applied to newcomers. The last and important point raised was that the retirement of experienced and mature employees will cause a big loss to public sector of the state.

The respondent, on the other hand, presented two affidavits defying all the aspects on which the order was challenged. The State officials declared that it is the duty of the state to make effective laws and provisions to solve the problem of unemployment (that was above 17,84,699 on December 31st, 1982) within the scope of its economic capacity and development. Defending the petitioner’s contentions, the State presented that previous order to increase the retirement age released in year 1979 was not referred to One Man Pay Commission and thus, was casual as well as based on irrelevant criteria. Further, it had no relevance with the current orders and notifications. The effect of increase in the age of superannuation earlier had not only caused one third increase in number of unemployed youth, but it also worsened their promotion chances causing a lot of discouragement among them. According to them, it was important to unravel the problem through such steps. The Government of Kerela and Karnataka had also taken similar steps; some other states in the country had same age of retirement. They also said that the decision was taken with the purpose of welfare and improvement of the qualified and talented youngsters of the state, who were increasing at a higher pace owing to better educational facilities, by providing them enough opportunities. The measures taken were aimed to offer a beneficial impact for the generation of incentives to worthy employees. At last, it was said that deciding the age of retirement was purely apart of governmental policy and the petitioner had no cause of action to file the writ petition.

Ratio Decidendi of the Case:

  • In this case, the decision was favoured towards the respondent, i.e. state. It was held that it was important for the state to provide employment opportunities to younger section of the state. Also, it was necessary to create promotional spaces and opportunities for them as early as possible.
  • It was said that a common scheme to apply and govern superannuation needs to be evolved considering the performance levels of the employees.
  • The court also referred the case of E.P. Royappa v. State of Tamil Nadu[7] and asserted that while resolving the validity of policy issues like the age of retirement, it is not correct for the court to put disruptive claims in a responsive judicial scale and decide the issue by finding out the way in which balance tilts.
  • Further, fixing the age of superannuation would be unreasonable if it does not coordinates with the relevant principles of fixing the age of retirement or if it does not serve any public interest. In the instant case, the order was considered not arbitrary as the issue was under the public interest.
  • It was added that in some cases, the Court has not relevant methods of choosing the best proper alternative of other competing ones. Sometimes, there are no directions to review each and every question of a policy.
  • In the matter of Article 311(2)[8] it was held that it is applied only when a civil servant is reduced in rank, dismissed or removed from service by way of penalty, that is to say, when the effect of the order passed against him in his behalf is to visit him with evil consequences. The dismissal of an employer after reaching the age of superannuation does not amount to his removal from service within the meaning of Article 311(2).
  • The court, on the question of Article 21[9] held the State cannot afford to allowing its employees to continue in service after they have passed the limits of peak performance. The idea of retirement does not violate the right of a person to his livelihood.
  • According to Article 14, equals must be treated equally and unequals must be treated differently. In the case of State of Andhra Pradesh v. G. Ramakishan[10], the state government was held discriminatory as it failed to provide an intelligible differentia. In this case, there was no violation of Article 14[11] of the Indian Constitution.


In this case, it was stated that court cannot intervene with the policy of state. In the case Mohammad Abdul Kadir v. Union of India[12] Case which was decided in year 2009, court observed that it is the failure of the duty of the judges if they are not able to draw the attention of the authority towards the contention involved in the case. Judges do not work as framer but work as catalyst of the Constitution whenever there is need for any new policy and for the changing the policy. However, the same goes in opposite decision in the immediate case regarding the matter of judicial review for policy making.

Frequently Asked Questions:

  1. What were the facts of K. Nagraja v. State of Andhra Pradesh case?
  2. What were the contentions involved in the immediate case?
  3. What was the decision given by the Supreme Court of India?
  4. What was the Ratio Decidendi of the case?


  1. V.N. Shukla, Constitution of India (Mahendra P. Singh, Eastern Book Company 11th ed. 2008).
  2. Surinder Mistry, (March 15th 2018), K. Nagaraj & Ors. v. State Of Andhra Pradesh & Anr, [online]

Available at: https://india.lawi.asia/k-nagaraj-and-ors-v-state-of-andhra-pradesh-and-anr/

  • Indian Kanoon, (April 13th 2014), K. Nagaraj & Ors. Etc. Etc vs State Of Andhra Pradesh & Anr. Etc, [online]

Available at: https://indiankanoon.org/doc/18076/

[1] Article 309 of the Constitution of India, 1949.

[2] Article 313 of the Constitution of India, 1949.

[3] Article 14 of the Constitution of India, 1949.

[4] Article 16 of the Constitution of India, 1949.

[5] Article 21 of the Constitution of India, 1949.

[6] Article 311(2) of the Constitution of India, 1949.

[7] E.P. Royappa v. State of Tamil Nadu, [1974] 2 SCR 348.

[8] Article 311(2) of the Constitution of India, 1949.

[9] Article 21 of the Constitution of India, 1949.

[10] State of Andhra Pradesh v. G. Ramakishan, AIR 2001 SC 324.

[11] Article 14 of the Constitution of India, 1949.

[12]Mohammad Abdul Kadir v. Union of India Original Application No. 90 OF 2008.

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