Tripura High Court: Akil Kureshi, CJ., dismissed a writ petition which was filed aggrieved about non-payment of gratuity and pension after retirement.

The petitioner had joined the service of the Government of Tripura in the year 1992 as a Lower Division Clerk on a reserved post for Scheduled Tribe wherein she had claimed that she belonged to Laskar(Tripuri) community which was recognized as a Scheduled Tribe in Tripura.

The question of Laskar community being recognized as a Scheduled Tribe became a focal point of long legal controversy. Eventually, the Supreme Court had upheld the judgment of the Tripura High Court holding that the Laskar community is not a recognized Scheduled Tribe in the State of Tripura. It was however decided that those belonging to Laskar community and who had been granted any benefit of reservation up to 31-03-1990, the same shall not be withdrawn looking at the longstanding disputes.

The cancellation of the petitioner’s caste certificate and consequentially, her appointment in Government service also went through several legal stages. At one stage, the Judge allowed the petition and set aside the order passed by the State Level Scrutiny Committee(SLSC) cancelling her caste certificate, in the writ appeal the Division Bench confirmed the above order. SLSC once again passed a fresh order, cancelling the caste certificate of the petitioner and the government acting upon the order cancelled petitioner’s appointment which was based on the false claim of Scheduled Tribe status.

The petitioner aggrieved by this had approached the High Court and the Judge had stayed the implementation of the order and accordingly, the petitioner had rejoined the duties.

While this petition was pending the petitioner retired and the petition was eventually dismissed, the decision was challenged, which was again dismissed. In the present petition direction for release of her gratuity and pension was prayed for.

The Court after perusal of facts and documents opined that based on the cancellation of the caste certificate, her appointment also stood cancelled and these orders had achieved finality since Single Judge, as well as the Division Bench, had dismissed the petition challenging this order. The Court further held that in this view of the matter, the petitioner cannot claim post-retiral benefits of pension and gratuity.

The Court while dismissing the petition however held that on the principles of quantum meruit, the salary already paid to the petitioner for the work done cannot be a subject matter of recovery but the benefits of Government employment, promotion or admission in educational institutions on the strength of false claim of reserved category candidate, would be withdrawn once it is proved that the caste status was falsely claimed.[Sipra Debbarma v. State of Tripura, 2021 SCC OnLine Tri 380, decided on 29-07-2021]

Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

For Petitioner(s): Ms A Debbarma and Mr Samarjit Bhattacharjee

For Respondent(s): Mr Biswanath Majumder, CGC and Mr S Dey

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