Ker HC | Members and Chairman of CAT not entitled to pension benefits available to HC Judges

Kerala High Court: A Division Bench of V. Chitambaresh and Ashok Menon, JJ. dismissed a writ appeal that was filed by a judicial member of Central Administrative Tribunal, seeking same pension benefits as available to Judges of High Court.

Respondent herein was a Judicial Member in CAT. At the time of appointment, he was governed by CAT (Salaries and Allowances and Conditions of Service of Members, Chairman and Vice-Chairman) Rules, 1985, Rule 8 whereof quantified pension. Administrative Tribunals (Amendment) Act, 2006 brought an amendment in Section 8 of the said Act and provided that conditions of service of Chairman and Members shall be the same as applicable to Judges of the High Court. The respondent filed a petition in this Court claiming retiral benefits as applicable to Judges of High Court. Learned Single Judge set aside the order of Government of India rejecting the request of the respondent for pensionary benefits as applicable to the Judges of the High Court. The Union of India, Pay and Accounts Officer and the Deputy Registrar of CAT filed this appeal assailing the judgment of Single Judge.

Issue: Whether the respondent was entitled to the benefit of Section 8(3) of the Administrative Tribunals Act as amended with effect from 19-02-2007 when his tenure of office as Member of the CAT ended on 09-07-1994.

The Court noted that Section 10A of the Administrative Tribunals Act, 1985 (which was also inserted by the 2006 Amendment Act) clearly stated that the “Chairman, Vice-Chairman and Member of a Tribunal appointed before the commencement of the Administrative Tribunals (Amendment) Act, 2006 shall continue to be governed by the provisions of the Act, and the rules made thereunder as if the Administrative Tribunals (Amendment) Act, 2006 had not come into force.”

It was observed that the intention of the legislature to not give any retrospective effect to the Administrative Tribunals (Amendment) Act, 2006 was manifest from the statute itself which could not be whittled down by a Constitutional Court. Thus, respondent was not entitled to call in aid Section 8(3) of the Act as regards his conditions of service so long as Section 10A of the Act was in full force.

The Court remarked that “the Chairman and Members of the CAT do not occupy the exalted position of a Judge of the High Court merely because they are given the same benefits… In view thereof, the appeal was dismissed.[Union of India v. N. Dharmadan, 2019 SCC OnLine Ker 1879, decided on 18-06-2019]

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