Himachal Pradesh High Court: In a case wherein, the petitioner had filed a writ petition seeking to direct the respondents to grant pension and all other retiral benefits, Satyen Vaidya, J.* directed the respondents to pay the retirement dues along with the amount of interest and also directed, Respondent 1, Principal Secretary (Health), Government of Himachal Pradesh to conduct an independent and impartial inquiry regarding delay in the petitioner’s case and recover the amount of interest payable to the petitioner from the public officer found for the lapse, and accordingly disposed of the petition.
In the instant case, the petitioner had retired prematurely as a Medical Officer on 24-8-2021. Thereafter his retirement, as per the Central Civil Services (Pension) Rules, 1972 (‘the Rules’), the petitioner became entitled to pension, gratuity, leave encashment, General Provident Fund and benefits of Group Insurance.
Despite the lapse of about eight months from the date of the petitioner’s retirement, his benefits were not disbursed. Thus, the petitioner filed the writ petition before the Court.
Analysis, Law, and Decision
The Court noted that the petitioner had served the State Government for twenty-eight years and nine months and was entitled to pension and all other retiral benefits admissible to him as per the Rules.
The Court took note of the information provided by the Medical Superintendent, Regional Hospital, Solan which depicted the disbursal of retirement dues to the petitioner till 19-8-2023 and opined that the picture that depicted from the information was quite dismal and painful. The Court further stated that two years had passed since the petitioner’s retirement and he had not been disbursed his entire dues till date. The State Government had yet not been sure about the timeline within which it will be able to discharge the liability.
The Court further noted that the entire process of the sanctioning the petitioner’s case by the Accountant General, Himachal Pradesh took about eight months, still the petitioner’s case was forwarded to Accountant General, Himachal Pradesh based on pre-revised scales. The Court further observed that still a substantial amount was due to be paid to the petitioner by the respondents.
The Court after considering the facts, opined that Respondents 1-3 had no justifiable reason to delay the due amount to the petitioner. Thus, the Court held Respondents 1-3 liable to pay the petitioner interest at the rate of 6% per annum with effect from the expiry of three months period after the date of his retirement till the date of disbursal of the amounts already paid to the petitioner and further on the amounts still due to the petitioner till the date of its realization.
The Court opined that the situation in the instant case was not a solitary instance and the instances of delay in disbursal of retirement benefits were being brought before the Courts repeatedly. Further, the Court opined that the public authority that was responsible for discharge of duties without any delay, if failed to do so, should be made accountable for its lapses. Public authorities hold the public funds in trust and public money could not be allowed to be wasted by unjustified delays caused by them.
Thus, the Court directed the respondents to pay the balance of retirement dues along with an interest at the rate of 6% per annum within six weeks from the date of this judgment and also issued direction to Respondent 1, to conduct an independent and impartial inquiry regarding delay in the petitioner’s case and recover the amount of interest payable to the petitioner from the public officer found for the lapse.
Accordingly, the Court disposed of the petition.
[Vinay Patyal v. State of Himachal Pradesh, 2023 SCC OnLine HP 1080, decided on 29-8-2023]
*Judgment authored by- Justice Satyen Vaidya
Advocates who appeared in this case:
For the Petitioner: Ashish Verma, Advocate;
For the Respondents: Pushpender Jaswal, Additional Advocate General with Rahul Thakur, Gautam Sood and Priyanka Chauhan, Deputy Advocate Generals; Somesh Sharma, Karan Negi, Advocates