Gau HC | In the event an excess salary is paid to an employee during his/her service tenure because of no fault of his/her, such excess payment cannot be recovered from retirement benefits; law laid down by SC reiterated

Gauhati High Court: Achintya Malla Bujor Barua J., while reiterating the principle laid down by Supreme Court, with respect to calculation and payment of the retirement benefits, issued necessary directions to the respondent authorities.

Background

The petitioner working as an Assistant Teacher in Lower Muolhoi School in the district Dima Hasao, Assam, retired from service on 31-03-2018. After his retirement, when the matter was processed for payment of his pensionary benefits, the communication dated 05-06-2020 of the Finance and Accounts Officer in the office of the Directorate of Pension, Assam was made addressed to the District Primary Education Officer, Haflong, Assam, by which, it was provided that during his service tenure, the petitioner was paid a salary higher than his actual scale. Accordingly, by the said communication, the District Primary Education Officer, Haflong, Assam was required to do the needful. The said communication has been assailed in the present writ petition on the ground that as per the law laid down by the Supreme Court, recovery from the pensionary benefits cannot be made in respect of any salary that was paid to an employee during his service period for no fault of his own.

Observation

The Court observed, “The law in this respect has been settled by the Supreme Court in Shyam Babu Verma v. Union of India, (1994) 2 SCC 521 and State of Punjab v. Rafiq Masih, (2015) 4 SCC 334, wherein it had been held that in the event an excess salary is paid to an employee during his/her service tenure because of no fault of his/her, such excess payment cannot be recovered from the retirement benefits.”  Further, it was said, “(…) the ends of justice would be met if the authorities in the Pension Department make an assessment as to whether there was any contribution on the part of the petitioner in receiving such excess salary during his service tenure. In the event, if it is found that there was no such contribution from the petitioner leading to such excess payment, the authorities shall not insist upon the recovery in view of the law laid down by the Hon’ble Supreme Court as indicated above.”

Decision

Allowing the present petition, the Court stated the correct payment of the petitioner according to which the pension was to be calculated and not the higher pay which he derived during his service. Moreover, directions were given to conduct the assessment within a period of two months so to effectuate the entire process.[Hrangthalien Tamhrang v. State of Assam, 2020 SCC OnLine Gau 4499, decided on 24-11 2020]


Sakshi Shukla, Editorial Assistant has put this story together

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