Supreme Court: In a bunch of appeals challenging the counting period of work charged services for computing pensionary benefits and the length of pensionable service as per Work Charged Establishment Revised Service Conditions (Repealing) Rules, 2013 (‘2013 Rules'), the Division Bench of M.R. Shah* and C.T. Ravikumar, JJ. refused to accept the appeals and held that service rendered as work charged after regularisation of service shall be counted for qualifying service for pension only as per Rule 5(v) of 2013 Rules.
The petitioners were initially appointed and working as work charged employees who were regularized as per 2013 Rules. Clause 5(v) of the said Rules provided for applicability of old pension scheme on the petitioners, and calculation of pension and gratuity benefits with recognition of regular service of 1 year for work charged service of every 5 years, and if minimum pension paid service is not completed for pension acceptance, benefit will be given by adding minimum service to that extent.
The instant petition challenges Rule 5(v) of the Rules, 2013 to the extent of providing for consideration of regular service of one year for the work charged service of every five years for calculating pension. The petitioners claim that the entire service rendered as work charged is required to be considered for pension.
Difference of opinion in two division bench judgments led the reference of matter to larger bench of Patna High Court, which upheld Rule 5(v) of 2013 Rules in the impugned judgment and held that “the period spent in the work charged establishment would be counted only to the extent of shortfall in qualifying period of service for grant of pension, which shall be made up by adding that period spent under the work charged establishment, and that the entire period spent under the work charged establishment would not be taken into account.”
The Court in the instant matter considered whether the entire service rendered as work charged under the work charged establishment has to be counted/considered for determining the amount of pension after the work charged employees are regularized under 2013 Rules.
The Court observed that Rule 5(v) of 2013 Rules can be said to be beneficial to work charged employees whose services have been regularized. They may not be deprived of pension for not having completed the quality service for pension. The Court commented that “denying pension after rendering service as work charged for number of years on the ground that they have not completed the qualifying service can be said to be unfair, illegal, and exploiting.” Further added that the High Court's larger bench has rightly held that only such period from work charged tenure would be added for considering service of an employee, who has been regularized to qualify him/her for pension.
The Court said that if the instant appeal is accepted, it would be tantamount to regularizing their services as work charged from the initial appointment. The Court pointed towards the everlasting difference between a regular employee appointed on a substantive post and a work charged employee working under work charged establishment and explained that the services rendered as work charged cannot be counted for the purpose of pension/quantum of pension. It further added that after their services have been regularized, they cannot be denied pension on the ground of not completing the qualifying service for pension.
The Court did not find any merit in the instant appeals and dismissed the same. The Court observed and held that service rendered as work charged after regularisation of service under 2013 Rules and Circular shall be counted for qualifying service for pension only as per Rule 5(v) of 2013 Rules.
[Maheshwar Pandey v. State of Bihar, 2023 SCC OnLine SC 527, Judgment dated 28-4-2023]
*Judgment authored by: Justice M.R. Shah
Advocates who appeared in this case :
Advocate on Record Bankey Bihari Sharma, Senior Advocate Navniti Prasad, Advocate Rohit R., Advocate on Record Amit Pawan, Senior Advocate J.M. Sharma, Advocate on Record Ajit Sharma, Advocate Amrit Pradhan, Advocate Dr. Sandeep Singh, Advocate Akshat Sharma, Advocate A. Renganath, Advocate on Record Abhinav Mukerji, Advocate Bihu Sharma, Advocate Pratishtha Vij, Advocate Akshay Shrivastava, Advocate on Record Azmat Hayat Amanullah, Advocate T. G. Shahi, Additional Solicitor General Madhvi Divan, Advocate on Record Raj Bahadur Yadav, Advocate Nachiketa Joshi, Advocate Amit Verma, Advocate Vaishali Verma, Advocate Shiv Mangal Sharma