Kerala High Court: The Division Bench of A.M. Babu and V. Chitambaresh, JJ. allowed a petition preferred by the State against the order of Administrative Tribunal granting disbursal of full retirement benefits to an employee who had a criminal case pending against him.

Respondent herein, an Additional Tahsildar, was suspended on 26-11-2014 in connection with a vigilance trap case following his arrest and detention. He was reinstated on 28-09-2015, and he retired from service as Senior Superintendent on 30-11-2015 while the final report in vigilance case was filed on 27-12-2016. He pleaded for disbursement of full retiral benefits on the ground that cognizance of the criminal case was taken after the date of his retirement. The same was allowed by the Administrative Tribunal. Aggrieved thereby, the State preferred this petition.

Senior Government Pleader Mr T. Rajasekharan Nair contended that departmental proceedings commenced after the order of suspension. Therefore, the rigour of Rule 3A of Part III of the Kerala Service Rules was applicable which enabled the government to pay only provisional pension to the respondent and withhold his gratuity until the conclusion of the proceedings.

The Court agreed with the aforesaid contention and noted that the criminal case filed by Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau was still pending on the file of Vigilance Court, and the respondent had not yet been given a clean chit. Whether there was any part of the pension still to be recovered was a matter to be considered after the verdict.

Petitioner had already disbursed death-cum-retirement gratuity to respondent, even though it was not obliged to do so under the Kerala Service Rules. Thus, it was held that payment of provisional pension to the respondent at this stage could not be faulted with and the Tribunal was not justified in directing disbursement of entire benefits.[State of Kerala v. Sugunan V., 2019 SCC OnLine Ker 1024, Order dated 15-03-2019]

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