Orissa High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Orissa High Court: S. K Panigrahi, J. directed the State to pay simple interest computed at the rate of 6% per annum on account of deferred salaries within a period of 30 days from today.

The facts of the case are such that the petitioner joined service as the Headmaster in a government school and was rendering his services as a Government servant till his superannuation in year 2001. The Petitioner, being a 74-year-old man, was made to run from pillar to post to get his legitimate dues but owing to administrative latches, the same couldn’t materialize. The instant petition was filed as insofar as payment of arrears is concerned, has already been redressed but the interest component of the amount which has been held up for the last twenty-one years, is required to be paid.

Counsel for petitioner submitted that the redressal of grievance of the Petitioner will remain incomplete if he were to be denied of the interest component that is payable to him as a result of delay.

The Court observed that that salaries and pensions are due as a matter of right to employees, and, as the case maybe, to former employees who have served the State. Since, the petitioner rendered his services till superannuation as a government servant; his entitlement to the payment of salary is intrinsic to the right to life under Article 21 and to right to property which is recognized by Article 300A of the Constitution.

The Court further noted that the late decision taken by the opposite party is attributable to administrative latches across different levels and the same cannot be the reason to withhold the payment to the employees who admittedly worked at the relevant time. The employees, had the payment received within time and/or on due dates, could have utilized the same for various purposes.

The Court relied on judgment SK Dua v State of Haryana, (2008) 3 SCC 44 and observed that in the present case there is a delay of about 21 years in settling the salary arrears payable to the petitioner due to administrative latches is not acceptable. The present case is a clear example of inexcusable departmental delay. Even if it is assumed that the representations made by the petitioner were actively catered to, this cannot be an excuse for lethargy of the department because rules/instructions provide for initiation of process much before retirement. The exercise which was to be completed much before retirement was in fact started long after petitioner’s retirement.

The Court held the relief sought at the rate of 18% per annum be suitably scaled down”[Sovakur Guru v. State of Odisha, WPC (OA) No. 1553 of 2017, decided on 27-05-2022]

*Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

Uttarakhand High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Uttaranchal High Court: The Division Bench of Raghvendra Singh Chauhan, CJ. and Sanjaya Kumar Mishra, J., allowed a petition which was filed by the widowed wife of Mr. Babu Ram, who had died-in harness on 26-08-2020 for the release of gratuity, leave encashment, arrears of ACPs’, and the arrears of the 7th Pay Commission of her late husband in her favour.

Petitioner’s husband was a confirmed employee, and was serving on the post of Assistant Engineer in the Uttarakhand Payjal Sansadhan Vikas Evem Nirman Nigam (for the “the Nigam”), Haldwani, District Nainital. the Finance Director of the Nigam had passed an order, which was addressed to the Executive Engineer, Project Implementation Unit (Amrit), the respondent6, wherein the Finance Director had quantified the family pension from 27.08.2020 to 25.08.2030 @Rs.73,500 + D.A. per month, wherein the family pension was fixed @Rs.44,100/- + D.A. per month, and the gratuity was calculated amounting to Rs.20,00,000/-.

However, despite the letters written by the respondents clearly quantifying the amounts due to the petitioner, the petitioner had not been paid a single penny. According to the petitioner, her husband was suffering from cancer. In order to deal with his medical treatment, the family had to invest a large amount of money in his treatment. Thus, presently, the family is facing grave financial crises.

Mr D.K. Bankoti counsel for the petitioner submitted that there was no justifiable reason for the respondents for withholding the quantified amount mentioned hereinabove from the petitioner and due to the laxity on the part of respondent No.2, the petitioner, and her family continues to suffer financial crises. Therefore, it will be in the interest of justice to direct the respondents to release the said amount as expeditiously as possible.

The Court was of the opinion that petitioner was entitled to receive the abovementioned arrears without any doubts and directed to release the aforementioned quantified amount, namely Rs 41,95,069/- alongwith the interest @10% in favour of the petitioner while allowing the petition.[Alka Rani v. State of Uttarakhand, 2021 SCC OnLine Utt 1269, decided on 18-10-2021]

Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Delhi High Court: Jyoti Singh, J., addressed an issue with regard to revised wages for prisoners in Delhi Prisons.

Purpose of the present petition was to seek directions in order to make payment of wages to the prisoners at revised rates in terms of communication issued by Government of NCT of Delhi.

Sanjay Ghose, ASC appearing for the respondents submitted that an order for the approval of revised wages was passed by the Office of Director General (Prisons) on 23-07-2020, hence the payment shall be made thereof.

On perusal of the above-mentioned Order, Court stated that the convicts would be paid revised wages in terms of the Order passed on 20-06-2019, enhancing the wages and the arrears shall also be disbursed.

Additionally, 25% deduction from wages of the convicts meant for Victim Welfare Fund, has also been suspended till further Orders.

In view of the above, petition was disposed of. [Nitin Verma v. GNCTD, 2020 SCC OnLine Del 870 , decided on 24-07-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Madras High Court: N. Anand Venkatesh, J., passed directions regarding payment of fees to unaided private institutions. The present interim order will apply on all the unaided private institutions across the State of T.N.

“COVID-19  Pandemic has posed huge challenges to entire human kind.”

Bench observed that all the governments are grappling to handle the situation and every day new challenges stare at the face of the State and Central Government. Many decisions which seem to be right at the time when it is taken goes completely wrong at a later point of time.

The savings and contingency funds are dwindling every day due to the non availability of income. The economic breakdown has virtually come to a stage where the livelihood of many persons is under challenge.

Government order under challenge had virtually put a  lid on the institutions from collecting tuition fees and therefore aggrieved by the same, the unaided institutions have filed writ petitions  challenging the G.O.

The Bench, while taking into consideration the interest of all stakeholders, requested the State Government to take into consideration the same for which the State Government managed to come up with an interim arrangement.

Institutions must kick start their functioning

The unaided institutions depend upon only fees collected from the students which ultimately pays the salary of the teachers and non teaching staff without whom the institutions cannot function. Whereas, the other end of the spectrum is that many of the parents are also in the receiving end either because of no income or with a reduced income.

“…managements have managed to pay the salaries to the teachers and the

non teaching staff from their available reserve funds till date. This

the process cannot go on endlessly. “

Court in order to clear the logjam and strike a balance of interest of all the stakeholders, issued the following directions:

  • an interim order passed by this Court will apply to all unaided private institutions across the State of Tamil Nadu.
  • unaided private institutions shall collect 40% of the tuition fees as an advance fee based on the tuition fees collected during the academic year 2019-2020. This advance fee shall be paid by the students on or before 31-08-2020.
  • Arrears fees shall be paid before 30-09-2020.
  • If the students have already paid the entire fees including arrears, it cannot be a ground to claim refund.
  • balance of 35% of the fees based on the tuition fees collected for the academic year 2019-2020, shall be collected within a period of two months from the date on which the institution is reopened and physical classes commences
  • Fee Committee shall immediately start the process of the determining the tuition fees for the respective institutions and make an attempt to complete the process within a period of eight months starting from August 2020 onwards.
  • Teaching or non-teaching staff shall not insist for any increment in salary and/or DA until restoration of normalcy.
  • The State Government is directed to immediately take into consideration the request made by the institutions to supply textbooks and note books to the students either free of cost or at some nominal rates.

Matter to be posted on 05-10-2020. [Arockia Madha Matriculation Higher Secondary School v. Chief secretary to Government, 2020 SCC OnLine Mad 1442  , decided on 17-07-2020]

Armed Forces Tribunal
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT): Justice S.V.S. Rathore (Member) and Air Marshal BBP Sinha (Member) dismissed an application by the applicant under Section 14 of the Armed Forces Tribunal Act, 2007.

The applicant was enrolled in the Army in 1984 in a medically fit condition and was invalidated out from service in 1985 in low medical category EEE by the Medical Board for “Tuberculosis Lymphadenitis” which considered the disability at 100% for a period of 2 years. The applicant was brought before Review Medical Boards in the subsequent years in which his disability was assessed at 80%, 60% and 20% and thus disability pension continued till 1993. In the year 1993, the applicant was brought before Review Medical Board and the medical board assessed the disability to be between 6 to 10% (less than 20%) for a period of 10 years and on the recommendation of the medical board, pension sanctioning authority stopped disability pension from 1993 to 2003. The next RSMB could not be carried out as the applicant did not report to the medical authority till 2008 despite repeated reminder by Records. His disability was assessed at 20% for life and accordingly, he was in receipt of the disability pension from 2008.

The applicant argues that based on the facts mentioned above, he is entitled to disability pension for the period from 1993 to 2008 also and thus, the action of the respondents stopping the disability pension of the applicant from the said dates is against the principles of natural justice.

The respondents argued that since the disability of the applicant from 1993 was re-assessed as less than 20% for 10 years by pension sanctioning and adjudicating authority (PCDA), it was stopped. The next RSMB in 2003 of the applicant was not be carried out as he did not report to the medical authority despite repeated reminders. Eventually, when the applicant reported, his disability was assessed at 20% for life and accordingly his pension was rounded off to 50% for life. Hence, the applicant is not entitled to arrears of disability pension for the period from 1993 to 2008 because his disability was less than 20% as per Regulation 173 of Pension Regulations for the Army 1961 (Part-I) and secondly for not taking any initiative to appeal, represent or appear for 2003 RSMB.

The applicant approached the Tribunal in 2017 by filing an application for grant of disability pension from 1993 to 2008. The Tribunal relied on Shiv Dass v. Union of India, (2007) 9 SCC 274 where the Supreme Court held that arrears of disability pension are restricted to three years prior to the filing of the application if the same has been filed belatedly and delay is condoned. Since the applicant approached the Tribunal after elapse of more than 11 years, he is not entitled to any arrears due to the law of limitations.[M Radha Raman Shukla v. Union of India, 2019 SCC OnLine AFT 3893, decided on 15-07-2019]

Kerala High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: Devan Ramachandran, J. contemplated a writ petition under the laws and statutory prescriptions related to supply of electricity, where there was this rule that no fresh supply was to be granted to premises if its earlier owner/occupier had left unpaid arrears of charges for electric consumption. However, the Kerala Electricity Supply Code, 2014, contained a limited exception to this rule, through Regulation 40(3) thereof and it was this provision which was relied upon by the petitioner in this Writ Petition, while seeking a new electric connection from the Board.

In the instant petition, the petitioner was a Managing Partner of an industrial unit, contended that the particular area was allotted to them by District Industries Centre and before them, another unit worked their. It was further contended that a fresh KSEB was to be issued electric connection under Regulation 40(3) of the Kerala Electricity Supply Code 2014,  because under its mandate, they were obligated to give connection to the purchaser or to the new occupier of the premises, even if the previous occupier had left arrears of charges relating to electric consumption. The counsel for the petitioner, Ziyad Rahman, submitted that it was manifested that the petitioner was the new occupier, who had been allotted the premises by the KSIDC and was entitled to the benefit of Regulation 40(3) of the Supply Code.

On the other hand, Sudheer Ganesh Kumar, counsel for the KSEB, submitted that petitioner cannot claim the benefit of Regulation 40(3) of the Code because the allotment of the premises in question was made in his favour by the Industries Department under an express condition that he will pay off the entire arrears of electricity charges left unpaid by the previous occupier. Hence the petitioner was not entitled to any benefits.

The Court observed that, ineluctable from the provision of the Code, it was only when a purchaser sought a new connection that the KSEB was obligated to grant the same, on condition that the said purchaser deposited the arrears without interest, so that KSEB can recover the same from the original allottee within a period of three years; and if such recovery becomes possible, then the deposit aforementioned was to be returned to the purchaser. Obviously, therefore, this provision postulates three actors, namely, the new purchaser, KSEB and the old consumer who had left electric charges and arrears unpaid. The Court further observed that the agreement between KSEB and the petitioner, imposed liability on the petitioner entirely. Hence the petitioner was not entitled to any benefits. The Court held that, “here is a case where the petitioner concedes to be expressly responsible for paying the entire arrears of electric charges left unpaid by the old occupier; thus clearly indicating that the original consumer has no such liability left; and consequently, Regulation 40(3) of the Supply Code cannot be of any avail to him.”[Rafeek C. A v. Kerala State Electricity Board Ltd., 2019 SCC OnLine Ker 2037, decided on 14-06-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Rajasthan High Court: The Bench of Dr Pushpendra Singh Bhati, J., dismissed the petition filed for mainly amendment of the issues framed in the pleadings at a later stage.

The facts of the case were that the respondent-landlord had filed an application under Section 18(2) of the Rajasthan Rent Control Act, 2001 before the Rent Tribunal, for recovery of arrears of rent. The petitioner filed a reply to the said application under Section 18(2) of the Rajasthan Rent Control Act, 2001 and denied the existence of the landlord-tenant relationship between him and the respondent. This started the series of litigation that followed thereafter between the parties. During this, the petitioner filed an application under Section 21 of the Rent Control Act, 2001 for amendment of the issues. The petitioner also made a request to delete issues framed earlier and prayed for framing of a new issue. Also, he filed an application under Section 21 read with Section 11 of the Court Fee Act and under Order 7 Rule 11 CPC with the averment that the respondent in the rent application had although prayed for arrears of rent along with 18% interest per annum, but did not pay the appropriate court fee. The argument advanced by the respondent was that the eviction suit was filed in the year 2010 and had been going on for almost nine years, and thus, at that stage when no material change in the original pleadings were made, then permitting the petitioner to file new applications just for the purpose of delaying the proceedings was inappropriate.

The Court held that the parties were satisfied with the issues so framed at that juncture, and therefore, since no material change was reflected in the pleadings, at a belated stage, the petitioner was barred to contend that the issues need to be re-framed. The petition was thus rejected. [Umesh Jhamb v. Parkash Rani, 2019 SCC OnLine Raj 326, Order dated 12-04-2019]

Armed Forces Tribunal
Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

Armed Force Tribunal (AFT): The Bench of S.V.S. Rathore, Member (J) and Air Marshall BBP Sinha, Member (A) partially allowed a petition seeking rounding-off’ of the disability pension from 20% to 50% with effect from 01-06-2000 to 31-12-2015.

In the pertinent case, the applicant was commissioned in the Army Medical Corps (AMC) in medical category SHAPE-I on 06-06-1976 and promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. The applicant was superannuated on 31-05-2000 in the low medical category. The applicant is entitled to disability element and is in receipt of the benefit of rounding off and related arrears of his disability pension at 50% w.e.f. 01-01-2016 till date. The primary claim of the applicant is that he should also be given the benefits of rounding off and the related arrears w.e.f. 01-06-2000, i.e. w.e.f. the date of his discharge till 31-12-2015. The respondents contended that for cases of superannuation or normal retirement, the applicant has been extended the same benefit w.e.f. 01-01-2016.

The Tribunal while placing reliance on Shiv Dass v. Union of India, (2007) 9 SCC 274 held that the benefit of rounding off of disability pension should be granted to the applicant three years prior to filing of the present O.A. The O.A. was filed on 25-04-2018. Since the applicant has already received the benefit of rounding off of disability element for the period 01-01-2016 till date, he is entitled to receive the arrears for rounding off of disability element for the period from 25-04-2015 to 31-12-2015. Thus, the Tribunal partially allowed the petition.[Rameshwar Dayal v. Union of India, 2019 SCC OnLine AFT 927, Order dated 28-02-2019]