Supreme Court: The Division Bench of M.R. Shah and A.S. Bopanna*, JJ., condoned the non pensionable sandwiched period between pensionable services rendered in Central and State government for the purpose of providing a single bock of pensionable service.
The appellant worked as a Technician in the Telecom Department during the period 05-02-1974 to 31-05-1984. Later on, the appellant joined the Technical Education Department on 31-05-1987, where he served till 30-06-2006 and got retired on attaining the age of superannuation. During the period between those services the appellant had worked in Steel Industries Limited, Kerala (SILK), a Public Sector Undertaking.
The appellant had requested the State to condone the period served by him in PSU and consider the services rendered by him under the Telecom Department and Education Department as one for granting pension which was rejected by the State. On application the Kerala Administrative Tribunal allowed benefit of pension to the appellant by condoning the period of break in service, as being permissible in the circumstance. However, the same was set aside by the High Court by the impugned judgment.
Admittedly, the service rendered by the appellant in ‘SILK’ which was a PSU was not pensionable service. Therefore, the said period of service acted as a disconnect between the two different pensionable service and the same needed to be condoned to provide a single block of pensionable service.
“The case of the appellant was not that the non pensionable service be reckoned and the entire service from 05-02-1974 to 30-06-2006 be admitted for computing the pensionary benefits as assumed by the High Court.”
Rather what the appellant sought was to exclude the service rendered in ‘SILK’ and condone that period from being treated as a disjoint or break between the two pensionable services.
The appellant had relied on a Government Order dated 12-11-2002 by which the government had declared that the employees of the State Government Departments who had left the former service in Central Government/ Central Public Sector Undertakings on their own volition for taking up appointment in State government Departments will be allowed to reckon their prior service for all pensionary benefits along with the service in the State Government Department.
Similarly, the Government Order dated 24-09-2014 the government had provided for condonation of the nonqualifying sandwiched period to reckon the qualifying service.
After perusing the referred Government Orders, the Bench opined that the benefit sought for by the appellant was provided and the sandwiched non qualifying service as break in the two services was condonable and the prior public service should be reckoned as qualifying service for pension.
Rejecting the State’s contention that the appellant had retired on 30-06-2006, while the Government Order was dated 24-09-2014 and as such could not be made applicable retrospectively, the Bench stated the issue had not been settled and not reached finality in the case of the appellant since his review petition dated 17-09-2014 was still pending when the Government Order was issued. Moreover, the said Government Order in para 2 had taken note of the several requests received to reckon the prior qualifying service.
In the backdrop of above, the Bench was of the opinion that the Tribunal was justified in its conclusion and the High Court had erred in setting aside the same. Accordingly, the impugned order was set aside and the order of the Tribunal was restored for its implementation.
[Valsan P. v. State of Kerala, 2021 SCC OnLine SC 953, decided on 21-10-2021]
Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has put this report together
For the Appellant: P.V. Surendranath, Senior Counsel
For the Respondent: C.K. Sasi
*Judgment by: Justice A.S. Bopanna