P&H HC | Weak financial position held is not a valid ground to withhold payments in respect of the retiral benefit

Punjab and Haryana High Court: Harsimran Singh Sethi, J. allowed the petition for the payment of the retiral benefit on the ground of law laid down by the court.

A writ petition was made for the release of benefit in respect of service rendered by her late husband.

The petitioner submitted that her husband died in May, 2013 and the benefit released to the petitioner much after the said date. The reason given by the respondent for not releasing the remaining amount was a paucity of funds as the same were not released by the Government of India.

The Court after submission made by the parties brought in light the case of A.S. Randhawa v. State of Punjab, 1997(3) SCT 468 in which it was held that an employee should be paid the benefits within a period of two months from the date of retirement. In the present case, the husband of the petitioner died in May, 2013 and therefore, within a period of two months, all the benefits should have been released to the petitioner. The Court opined that the paucity of fund was not a valid ground for the delayed payment as also held by the court in case of Ram Karan v. PEPSU Road Transport Corpn., 2005 (4) S.C.T. 438, wherein it was held that the weak financial position is no valid ground to withhold the payments in respect of the retiral benefit. The Supreme Court in a plethora of judgment discussed a similar issue. The extract from the judgment on the similar issue held by the Supreme Court reads as that the financial difficulties of the institution cannot be above the fundamental right of a citizen. An employer is not only to look forward to the economic growth but also to look after the welfare of its employees including health, social security and other human needs The Courts in such a situation are obliged to issue necessary directions to mitigate the extreme hardship of the employees involving violation of their human rights by the State or its functionaries like the respondent-Corporation, which are fully controlled by it.”

Thus, the court held that reason forwarded by the respondent for the delay in releasing the amount cannot be considered as a valid ground and thus application for release of fund was allowed.[Davinder Kaur v. State of Punjab, 2019 SCC OnLine P&H 1511, decided on 14-08-2019]

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