COVID 19Hot Off The PressNews

EPFO released  Rs  868 crore pension along with Rs 105 crore arrear on account of restoration of commuted value of pension.

On the recommendation of Central Board of Trustees (EPFO), the Government of India accepted one of the long standing demands of workers to allow restoration of commuted value of pension after 15 years. Earlier there was no provision for restoration of commuted pension and the pensioners continued to receive reduced pension on account of commutation lifelong. This is a historical step for the benefit of pensioners under EPS-95.

EPFO has more than 65 lakhs pensioners catered through its 135 regional offices. EPFO officers and staff battled all odds during this Covid-19 lockdown period  and processed pension payment for May, 2020  to ensure credit of pension in the bank account of pensioners on schedule.


Ministry of Labour and Employment

[Press Release dt. 01-06-2020]

[Source: PIB]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In a case where the 3-judge bench of Arun Mishra, BR Gavai and MR Shah, JJ was hearing a reference in a plea of SBI employees seeking pension on completion of 15 years of service as per the State Bank of India Voluntary Retirement Scheme, it was held that the employees who completed 15 years of service or more as on cut­off date are entitled to proportionate pension under SBI VRS to be computed as per SBI Pension Fund Rules.

Refraining from burdening the bank with interest, the bench directed,

“Let the benefits be extended to all such similar employees retired under VRS on completion of 15 years of service without requiring them to rush to the court.”

Factual Background

  • After obtaining approval of the Government of India, the Indian Bank Association (IBA) evolved a Voluntary Retirement Scheme. The Central Board of Directors of SBI adopted and approved the scheme in its meeting held on 27.12.2000 for implementing the VRS for the employees of the bank by retiring them on completion of 15 years of service with the benefit provided in the scheme. The heart and soul of the scheme were that benefits to be given on completion of 15 years of service. The eligibility for benefits was provided to those who had completed 15 years of service as on 31.12.2000.
  • The SBI submitted that it reserved a right under the scheme to modify, amend or cancel it or any of the clauses and to give effect to it from any date deemed fit. The Deputy Managing Director­cum­CDO was the competent authority for the purpose.
  • As specific queries were raised, a clarification was issued by the Deputy Managing Director on 15.1.2001, stating that as per the existing rules, employees who had not completed 20 years of pensionable service, were not eligible for pension.
  • The respondent before the Supreme Court questioned the refusal of the bank to pay pension. He retired on 31.3.2001 under the SBI VRS. On 18.3.2001, the bank accepted the offer of the employee to retire him voluntarily. He was aged 59 years three months and had nine months service still to go before attaining the age of superannuation. On 31.3.2001, when the VRS became effective, he had put in 19 years, nine months, and 18 days of pensionable service. He had to retire on completion of 60 years and would have put in a little more than 20 years of pensionable service.

Taking note of the facts, the Court noticed that once the Central Board of Directors accepted the memorandum for making payment of pension, in case it was not accepting the proposal in the memorandum, it ought to have said clearly that it was not ready to accept the proposals of the Government and the IBA and rejects the same. Once it approved the proposals referred to in the memorandum, which were on the basis of IBA’s letter and Government of India’s decision it was bound to implement it in true letter and spirit cannot invalidate its own decision by relying on fact it failed to amend the rule, whereas other Banks did it later on with retrospective effect.

“They cannot invalidate otherwise valid decision by virtue of exclusive superior power to amend or not to amend the rule and act unfairly and make the entire contract unreasonable based on misrepresentation.”

It further said that while construing a contract, the language and surrounding circumstances of the overall scheme, memorandum and letters are to be read conjointly to find out whether any departure made by the Board of Directors in its Resolution dated 27.12.2000 is of pivotal significance. In this case, the decision was taken by it of approval of the IBA scheme as proposed. Its binding effect cannot be changed on the basis what parties choose to say afterward, nor they can   be permitted to wriggle out. The contract is required to be read as a whole. It is apparent on a bare reading that optees will be eligible for proportionate pension under the Pension Regulations of the bank and therefore, the bank bears the risk of lack of clarity, if any.

 “It was not the provision in the VRS scheme that incumbents having completed 20 years of service would be entitled for pensionary benefits. The scheme was carved out specially for attracting the employees by providing pension and other benefits to eligible persons like ex gratia, gratuity, pension and leave encashment. Deprivation of pension would make them ineligible for the benefits and would run repugnant to the eligibility clause.”

The Court concluded by saying that the basic framework of socialism is to provide security in the fall of life to the working people and especially provides security from the cradle to the grave when employees have rendered service in heydays of life, they cannot be destituted in old age, by taking action in an arbitrary manner and for omission to complete obligation assured one. Though there cannot be estoppel against the law but when a bank had the power to amend it, it cannot take shelter of its own inaction and SBI ought to have followed the pursuit of other banks and was required to act in a similar fair manner having accepted the scheme.

[Assistant General Manager, State Bank of India v. Radhey Shyam Pandey, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 253, decided on 02.03.2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Tripura High Court: A Division Bench of Akil Kureshi, CJ and Arindam Lodh, J., allowed and disposed of an appeal filed aggrieved by the order of the Single Judge.

Petitioner was the second wife of a deceased government servant Nani Gopal Roy and was entitled to a family pension as her nomination was also made by the deceased government servant during his lifetime. Despite which the respondents were not giving her the pension to which she had filed a writ petition. While allowing the writ petition the Single Judge ordered the respondents to release the pension subject to the production of the survival certificate of Nani Gopal Roy and Mamata Bala Roy, the first wife of the deceased government servant. The petitioner’s grievance was that she was unable to produce those documents because of which she was not receiving her pension.

The Court while allowing and disposing of the appeal stated that the government has not shown any rule which would require the claimant of the family pension to produce the documents of the first wife, thus, that direction needs to be deleted and with respect to the document of the husband, a No-objection of all legal heirs of a deceased is not a requirement for issuance of survival certificate. Thereupon, the Court directed the petitioner to apply to the concerned Sub Divisional Magistrate for issuance of survival certificate of deceased Nani Gopal Roy and then approach the State-authorities for release of her family pension. [Maya Rani Roy v. State of Tripura, 2020 SCC OnLine Tri 62 , decided on 11-02-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Jharkhand High Court: A Division Bench of Dr Ravi Ranjan, CJ and Sujit Narayan Prasad, J. addressed an appeal in which the daughter-in-law of a deceased employee of State-owned respondent company Central Coalfields Limited (CCL) sought for payment of family pension as well as other dues accrued to her mother-in-law after the death of her father-in-law.

In the present matter, the father-in-law of the appellant was an employee of the respondent company. When he died, the appellant’s mother-in-law, who was the nominee, and deceased employee’s son could not get a family pension as they both died. After their death, the appellant agitated her grievance for payment of dues. When asked to produce a succession certificate by the respondent company, she challenged it by way f filing a writ petition. The learned Single Judge dismissed the petition holding that since appellant herein was not the only legal heir upon whom the entire estate would devolve, she must obtain a succession certificate from a court of competent jurisdiction. Aggrieved thereby, the present appeal was filed.

The counsel for the appellant N.K.P. Sinha argued that the earlier writ petition was dismissed for want of impleading the other legal heirs whereas in the present case legal heirs have been brought on record but the court held that no such relief was ever sought in the writ petition filed by the writ petitioner previously. Also, the counsel contended that the daughter-in-law is entitled to receive the amount due to the absence of the original deceased employee.

The Court noted that Clause 64 of the Coal Mines Provident Fund Scheme states that the whole amount shall be payable to the person legally entitled to it and on the last proviso which further lays down that if the amount to be paid exceeds Rs 25,000 then no payment shall be made to a person unless he is in possession of succession certificate issued in his name by the competent court.

The counsel for the respondents further confirmed at the time of hearing that there is no other scheme available either today or at the time of the death of the member than the said scheme.

It was observed by the Court that there are other heirs of the deceased member upon whom the estate will devolve even as per the scheme as laid down under Clause 64 of the Coal Mines Provident Fund Scheme. Further, it was held that in such circumstances, this becomes a case of grant of succession certificate. Only upon the grant of succession certificate, one can come to the conclusion as to who would be entitled to receive the fund and in what share.

Thus, it was held by the Court that a succession certificate is important in this case. In view thereof, the appeal was dismissed for being bereft of merits. [Kamli Devi v. Central Coalfields Ltd., 2019 SCC OnLine Jhar 1945, decided on 03-12-2019]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In a case where the family of a man was awarded invalid pension by the Tribunal despite of the fact that the man had not completed the stipulated period of employment as per the Orissa Civil Services (Pension) Rules, 1992, the 3-judge bench of R. Banumathi, A.S. Bopanna and Hrishikesh Roy, JJ has held that the qualifying years of service cannot be ignored for invalid pension. It said,

“The condition of qualifying service prescribed in the Pension Rules must be satisfied to become eligible for invalid pension and the arguments made to the contrary that invalid pension can be claimed under Rule 39 without satisfying the stipulated qualifying service mentioned in the same Rules, do not appeal to us.”

In the case at hand, the Odisha Administrative Tribunal had held that the applicant’s husband was entitled to invalid pension under Rule 39 of the Pension Rules and accordingly, the authorities were directed to sanction the invalid pension for the applicant’s husband and after his death, to settle the family pension for the applicant, after regularizing the services of the deceased employee.

It was, hence, argued before the Court that the applicant’s husband cannot be granted invalid pension under Rule 39 as the provision has to be conjointly read with Rule 47 and Rule 56 of the Pension Rules which specify the qualifying service of ten years and also the consequences for those who do not satisfy the eligibility criterion for qualifying service. It was also brought to the Court’s notice that the gratuity and other benefits and the compassionate appointment was accepted by the applicant without raising any additional claim towards invalid pension for her deceased husband.

Accepting the aforementioned submissions, the Court held,

“An employee becomes entitled to pension by stint of his long service for the employer and, therefore, it should be seen as a reward for toiling hard and long for the employer. The Pension Rules provide for a qualifying service of 10 years for such entitlement. When the question arises as to how certain provisions of the Pension Rules are to be understood, it would be appropriate to read the provision in its context which would mean reading the statute as a whole.”

Noticing that in the present case the employee did not satisfy the requirement of qualifying service and therefore the invalid pension could not have been ordered for him, under Rule 39 of the Pension Rules, the Court held,

“The different provisions of the Pension Rules cannot be read in isolation and must be construed harmoniously and the requirement of qualifying service cannot be said to be irrelevant for claiming different service benefits under the same Rules.”

Also considering that fact that the applicant never prayed for invalid pension for her husband and yet the Tribunal as well as the High Court granted her the unclaimed relief, the Court said,

“Such additional munificence, in addition to the job provided to the first respondent under the Rehabilitation Assistance Scheme for the sustenance of the deceased’s family, in our view, was unwarranted and the impugned order cannot be sustained.”

[State of Orissa v. Maju Naik, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 1548, decided on 04.12.2019]

Amendments to existing lawsLegislation Updates

On the death of a Government servant while in service, the family is entitled to a family pension in accordance with Rule 54 of the Central Civil Services (Pension) Rules, 1972.

The family pension was payable at an enhanced rate of 50% of the pay last drawn for a period of 10 years if the Government servant had rendered continuous service of not less than seven years; thereafter the rate of family pension was 30% of the pay last drawn. In case the Government servant had rendered service of less than seven years before his death, the rate of family pension was 30% from the beginning and family pension at enhanced rate of 50% of last pay drawn was not payable to the family.

The Government felt that the need for family pension at enhanced rate is more in the case of a Government servant who dies early in his career, as his pay at the initial phase of service is much less. The Government has, therefore, amended Rule 54 of the Central Civil Services (Pension) Rules, 1972 by a notification dated 19th September, 2019. As per the amended Rule 54, the family of a Government servant, who dies within seven years of joining service, will also be eligible for family pension at enhanced rate of 50% of last pay drawn, for a period of 10 years.

The above amendment would be effective from 1st October, 2019. However, the families of Government servants who died before completion of service of seven years within 10 years before 1st October, 2019, will also be eligible for family pension at enhanced rates with effect from 1st October, 2019.

The benefit of amended provisions would be available to the families of all Government servants, including the personnel of CAPFs, in the unfortunate event of their death within seven years of joining Government service.


Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances & Pensions

[Press Release dt. 23-09-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Jharkhand High Court: Dr S.N. Pathak, J., allowed the present petition, directing the respondents to make payment of the entire retiral benefits to the petitioner within 10 days.

The instant writ petition has been preferred by the petitioner for payment of his retiral dues i.e. pension, gratuity, arrears of pension and leave encashment and other benefits.

The facts of the case were that the petitioner was appointed to the post of Assistant Engineer under Rural Works Department on 28-03-1979 in the erstwhile State of Bihar. It is the case of the petitioner that he was denied the salary for several months and on several occasions without any rhyme and reason. The petitioner after his cadre allocation to the State of Jharkhand, superannuated from the services on 31-07-2011 from Rural Works Department, Work Division, Garhwa. The petitioner after superannuation in 2011, filed several representations for payment of retiral benefits but the respondents have not paid any heed to the same, therefore, the present petition.

Saibal Mitra, the counsel appearing for the petitioner urged that though the petitioner superannuated in the year 2011, he has not received a single farthing under the head of retiral benefits.

The High Court directed the Treasury Officer to immediately make payment of the entire retiral benefits to the petitioner within a period of 10 days since entire amount under the heads of retiral benefits have been sanctioned only a month’s back after eight years of the retirement. The Court also held that the Petitioner is entitled to retiral benefits along with 12% statutory interest. Reliance in this regard was placed on the judgment passed in case of Uma Agrawal v. State of U.P., (1999) 3 SCC 438 wherein it is settled principle of law that retiral benefits are not bounty to be given to the employees after retirement. Rather, it is the right of the employees to get retiral benefits.[Sukhram Prasad Mani v. State of Jharkhand, 2019 SCC OnLine Jhar 1137, decided on 20-08-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Patna High Court: Ahsanuddin Amanullah, J. disposed of the writ petition saying that the petitioner should approach the appropriate forum, in accordance with law as the respondents have complied with the condition to provide the reason for denying pension to the petitioner.

In this case, the petitioner was ordered to represent the dues payable to him and the respondent University was required to consider and pay the admissible dues of the petitioner within three months, failing which the dues were to carry simple interest at the rate of 10% per annum.

It was the duty of the respondents to give a reasoned order with regard to the admitted dues and details with regard to payment made, including a calculation chart. The learned counsel for the petitioner raised two grievances on account of earned leave and arrears of pension from February, 2003 to 31-12-2005. With regard to earned leave, he specifically mentioned that amount for 217 days was due whereas the University has sanctioned only 134 days, with the absence of a calculation chart to show the reasons for such a restriction.

The respondents filed a show-cause notice against the petitioner which said that the prayer for payment of arrears of pension from February, 2003 to December, 2005 had been rejected on the ground that the petitioner had opted for a different option which did not provide for the pension.

The Court held that their jurisdiction was to see whether the order of the writ Court has been complied with by the respondents. As there was no specific direction on merit with regard to payment of a pension or the number of days of earned leave, the respondents cannot be said to be in contempt if they have either denied or paid the earned leave for a lesser period. The Court advised the petitioner, to assail the same in accordance with law before the appropriate forum and ordered the respondents to provide a detailed calculation chart.

In view of the above-noted facts, the instant petition was disposed of accordingly.[Savitri Choudhary v. State of Bihar, 2019 SCC OnLine Pat 1236, decided on 29-07-2019]

Cabinet DecisionsLegislation Updates

The Union Cabinet, chaired by the Prime Minister Narendra Modi approved a new Central Sector Scheme, a historic decision that will empower farmers across India. This is a path-breaking scheme that will provide pension cover to our industrious farmers who toil day and night to keep our nation fed. It is also for the first time since independence that such a pension coverage has been envisioned for farmers.

It is estimated that 5 crore small and marginal farmers will benefit in the first three years itself.  The Central Government would spend Rs. 10774.50 crore for a period of 3 years towards its contribution (matching share) for providing social security cover as envisaged under the scheme.

The salient features of this scheme are:

A voluntary and contributory pension scheme for all Small and Marginal Farmers (SMF) across the country.

Entry age of 18 to 40 years with a provision of minimum fixed pension of Rs 3,000 on attaining the age of 60 years.

For example, a beneficiary farmer is required to contribute Rs 100/ – per month at median entry age of 29 years.  The Central Government shall also contribute to the Pension Fund an equal amount as contributed by the eligible farmer.

After the subscriber’s death, while receiving pension, the spouse of the SMF beneficiary shall be entitled to receive 50% of the pension received by the beneficiary as family pension, provided he/she is not already an SMF beneficiary of the Scheme.  If, the death of the subscriber happens during the period of contribution, the spouse shall have the option of continuing the Scheme by paying regular contribution.

Synergy between schemes, prosperity for farmers:

An interesting feature of the Scheme is that the farmers can opt to allow his/her monthly contribution to the Scheme to be made from the benefits drawn from the Pradhan Mantri Kisan Samman Nidhi (PM-KISAN) Scheme directly. Alternatively, a farmer can pay his monthly contribution by registering through Common Service Centres (CSCs) under MeitY.

Fulfilling core promises, empowering the agriculture sector:

For seventy years after Independence, such coverage for farmers was never thought. It was in the run-up to the 2019 Parliamentary elections that PM Narendra Modi first mooted such an idea, which gradually found resonance across the length and breadth of India. Such a plan was mentioned in the BJP manifesto and in the first Cabinet meeting after the formation of a new Government, it has become a reality.


[Dated: 31-05-2019]

Cabinet

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Uttaranchal High Court: The Bench of Ramesh Ranganathan, CJ. and N.S. Dhanik, J. allowed a special appeal by State of Uttarakhand, preferred against the order of learned Single Judge, setting aside the same impugned order.

Facts, to the limited extent necessary, are, the respondent was Class IV employee in Inter Rural Road Construction Scheme, started by Government of Uttar Pradesh under the supervision of Cane and Sugar Commissioner. The State of Uttar Pradesh bifurcated in Uttarakhand formerly known as Uttaranchal in 2000, and the respondent opted to be located in Uttarakhand for his service till the date of superannuation. The respondent had contended earlier that he was paid all the retiral benefits but a pension. The Government denied his pension stating that such benefits are applicable to the ‘government servants’ only and being in the service of Road Construction Scheme he is not deemed to be a ‘government servant’.

The learned Single Judge, relied on the Supreme Court judgment and granted the order in favor of the respondent earlier, he further stated that judgment of the Supreme Court was binding and there is no substance in the contentions of State. Supreme Court, in Vinod Kumar Goel v. State of Uttrakhand, (Civil Appeal No. 2511 of 2004 and 227 of 2014, Order dated 10-01-2004) where the matter in issue was exactly same, held, that “the Supreme Court has never rejected the contention earlier, that aggrieved individual was not a ‘government servant’ when working under the Cane Commissioner. Further, it was held by  Court that, “Rules of the State were applicable to the appellant for the purpose of superannuation and other consequential benefits; the earlier decision was binding on both the parties; and the respondents could not deny the retiral benefits, including pension, to the appellant.”

Aggrieved by the order of learned Single Judge, the State including the Commissioner, filed the appeal to the Court. The contentions of the appellant were that, the alleged proceedings before the Commissioner were not challenged by the respondent and the order passed in 1997 was the basis of the judgment of the Supreme Court. Hence, the order of the Commissioner in 2006 is valid and respondent’s inaction was not considered by the Single Judge while adjudication. The Commissioner has earlier observed that, there were no separate rules for the employees and officers working in the headquarters, districts, and areas under the Scheme, due to which various kinds of difficulties were arising in taking decisions in establishment related cases, the employees and officers of the Scheme would be covered by the Service Rules, as are applicable from time to time, in equivalent posts of the Cane Development Department. The Commissioner clarified that any other provision, and order prevailing in this regard, will not qualify any employee, employed under the Scheme, as a Government employee.

The appellant emphasized on the order of the Commissioner in 2006, which was relevant at the time when the respondent’s claim was decided and eventually ignored by the respondent, it was the only order which was effective as on that date, and was effective on the date of superannuation therefore, the claim of respondent was liable to be dismissed and rejected by the learned Single Judge. They further contended that the ruling of the Supreme Court was also not in conformity with the order passed by the Commissioner in 2006 but that of in 1997.

High Court, based on the aforementioned contentions of the appellant, set aside the order passed by the learned Single Judge in favor of respondent and issued a direction that it shall examine, the question whether, in view of the subsequent order passed by the Commissioner in 2006, the orders of the Supreme Court, based on the earlier order of the Commissioner in 1997, would apply to the case of the respondent.[State of Uttrakhand v. Gopal Singh Bisht, 2019 SCC OnLine Utt 340, Order dated 01-05-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: The Bench of M.G. Giratkar, J., partly allowed a criminal revision application by modifying the maintenance amount being provided to the wife in respect of the husband’s pension.

In accordance, the present case, the learned counsel of applicant/husband, P.K. Mishra, submitted that before retirement, the husband was getting the salary of Rs 1, 53,000 per month and after retirement, his pension was Rs 72,000 per month. Further, it was stated that the husband was not in a position to pay Rs 30,000 per month as maintenance to his wife, the reason being an exorbitant amount. He added that “As per Section 11 of the Pensions Act, 1871, the pension cannot be attached.”

Hence, the High Court on considering the facts and circumstances of the case stated that maintenance amount at Rs 30,000 per month granted by learned Magistrate appears to be exorbitant. Pending disposal of domestic violence proceedings before learned Magistrate, at this stage amount of Rs 20,000 per month towards interim maintenance appears to be proper. “Maintenance allowance granted to wife cannot be considered as debt – She is not a creditor hence exemption under Section 11 cannot be granted to husband.” Also, pensions can be attached to recover the amount of maintenance.  Therefore,

  • The criminal revision application is partly allowed.
  • Order of interim maintenance is maintained. However, the amount at Rs 30,000 per month is modified.
  • Instead of Rs 30,000 per month, the applicant shall pay Rs 20,000 per month towards interim maintenance to his wife during the pendency of D.V. Act proceedings.
  • The order of attachment of pension is hereby quashed and set aside subject to the applicant/husband clears all arrears of maintenance within a period of one month.

In view of the above, the criminal revision application stands disposed of. [Bhagwant v. Radhika, 2019 SCC OnLine Bom 607, Order dated 05-04-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Uttaranchal High Court- A Bench of Manoj K. Tiwari, J., disposed of a petition finding no scope for interference in the writ petition.

In the present matter the petitioner after resigning from the appointment of Lower Division Clerk in Controller of Defence Accounts (CDA), Air Force, Ministry of Defence, accepted appointment as Lower Division Clerk in Punjab National Bank (PNB). Now since he has retired from service of Punjab National Bank on 31-01-2010, has sought benefit of services rendered in CAD, Air Force for pension purposes. His representation to the Bank claiming full pension on the basis of the services rendered by him was rejected.

The Court relied on the revelation made by the bare perusal of Regulation 24 of PNB (Employees’) Pension Regulation as pointed by the Bank, which makes it clear that military service rendered by a bank employee shall not be counted towards qualifying service for pension. Therefore, the past services will not count as qualifying service for pension and thus, the petition was dismissed.[K.R. Joshi v. Controller General of Defence Accounts, 2019 SCC OnLine Utt 150, Order dated 07-03-2019]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT): The bench of Sunita Gupta, Member (J), Lt Gen Philip Campose, Member (A), allowed an application praying for revision of pension in accordance with the last rank held before retirement.

In the pertinent matter, the applicant in pursuance of the circular by the Government of India (GoI) approached the Tribunal, wherein the circular clarified that, 10 months continuous service in the last rank held is not required for grant of pension in such rank. They relied on Thiagrajan v. Union of India, O.A. No. 93 of 2014, where the ten months were waived-off and the Tribunal opined that “pension cannot be deprived to an individual to a rank for which he has already rendered his service and that the applicant has earned his pension in the rank of JWO already, and therefore, is entitled to be paid pension in the rank of JWO. Even if, for some reason, such a pension is found to be less, the applicant is entitled to receive the highest pension he earned already...

The respondent conceded that the requirement of holding the last rank of 10 months before retirement has been dispensed with in keeping with the circular and further contended that they are correct in giving pension to the applicants on the lower rank as it is financially more beneficial.

The Tribunal held that the argument of the respondents, where a junior promoted to a senior rank should be pegged at a pension of his last but one rank, is fallacious, while placing reliance on D.S. Nakara v. Union of India, 1983 (1) SCC 305. Further on the method of calculating the exact pension, relied on the explanation in P. Gopalakrishnan v. Union of India, the complete import and implication of Circular 430 dated 02-02-2009 Regulations for the Air Force Part 1, Ministry of Defence (MoD) letter dated 07-06-1999 and came to the conclusion that “the basis of calculation being pursued in the instant case was detrimental for the pension of petitioner..”. And it further directed the respondents to calculate the pension based on the last held rank by him before retirement and arrears to be paid accordingly.[Dhanushkodi Rajarajan v. Union of India, 2019 SCC OnLine AFT 4, Order dated 20-02-2019]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: On the question as to exclusion of unauthorised leaves for determination of pensionary benefits, the 3-judge bench of SA Bobde, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Deepak Gupta, JJ has held that

“the period of leave for which salary is payable would be taken into account for determining the pensionable service, while the period for which leave salary is not payable would be excluded. The Rule is crystal clear and does not brook any two interpretations.”

The Court said that Rule 21 of the Central Civil Services (Pension) Rules, 1972  is quite clear in its terms, i.e., “all leave during service for which leave salary is payable” would count. The corollary is that if an employee is not paid for leave, that period has to be excluded from the period to be counted for admissibility of pension. Rule 3(1)(q), while defining “qualifying service” provides for service rendered while on duty “or otherwise which shall be taken into account for the purpose of pensions and gratuities admissible under these rules.”

The Court, hence, said that it had no hesitation in coming to the conclusion that to avail of the benefit of Pension Rules, an employee must qualify in terms of the Rules.

The Court was hearing the plea of ex-employees of the Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC), who availed of the Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) but were held disentitled to pension on account of exclusion of period when they remained absent without authorisation for which period they were  held not entitled to salary.

On the issue that the respondents were not governed by these Rules, but by the Employees Contributory Provident Fund Scheme, the Court said:

“The Pension Scheme was sought to be introduced only couple of months before the VRS, and that too was not implemented till 1995. Not only that, it was not implemented through the LIC but ultimately by the appellant-Corporation itself, much later in 1995. Thus, the occasion for making any entries for this leave period in the service record, in terms of the Rules did not even arise at the stage when the VRS was applied. There may have been some significance to these aspects if the Pension Rules were already applicable over a period of time and entries had not been made, though, even there, it would not be in supersession of the plain language of the Rule. … The qualifying period for the VRS would have to be governed by that Scheme and cannot ipso facto be imported into the entitlement of pension, contrary to the plain wordings of the Pension Rules.”

[Delhi Transport Corporation v. Balwan Singh, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 276, decided on 26.02.2019]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT): The Bench of S.V.S. Rathore, J. and Air Marshal BBP Sinha; Members, dismissed an application claiming disability pension, on the grounds that the disease was neither attributable to nor aggravated by the military service.

In the present case, the original applicant (deceased) developed pain and swelling in his right thigh following an injury while doing the parade. The Categorisation Medical Board was held on 14-08-1964 at Military Hospital, Lucknow for the disability “Leomyo Sarcoma Right Thigh” and the applicant was placed in category CEE (temporary) for 6 months. On account of the said disability, grant of disability pension was sought for. The respondents filed a counter affidavit stating that the documents relating to the case were destroyed after the expiry of the period of retention i.e. 25 years and in the absence of a medical report, it is not possible to give any specific finding.

The Court opined that it was not in the position to accept that the disease of the applicant was either attributable to or aggravated by military service, primarily since, there was a substantial delay of 44 years and also because the reason as to why the disease could not be detected at the time of enrolment cannot be scrutinised to decide attributability.[Faquir Baksh Singh v. Union of India, Original Application No. 543 of 2017, Order dated 18-02-2019]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT): The Bench of S.V.S. Rathore, J. and Air Marshal BBP Sinha (Member) dismissed a Lance Naik’s claim for pension on the ground that he had been declared as a deserter and dismissed from service.

Petitioner herein joined the Indian Army on 31-10-1985 and was sanctioned casual leaves for five days from 08-05-2001 to 12-05-2001. During the course of casual leave, he became mentally disturbed and could not reach his home. In the year 2003, after recovering, he reported to his unit on 25-03-2003. Petitioner pleaded that he was entitled to service pension as he had completed 15 years of service; but since no pension was sanctioned in his favour, he filed a writ petition in the High Court of Allahabad. The said Court transferred his petition to this Tribunal under Section 34 of the Armed Forces Tribunal Act, 2007.

Respondents’ contention was that petitioner did not report back after availing casual leave therefore, he was declared a deserter and apprehension roll was issued against him on 28-05-2001. He was advised to report to his unit, but the petitioner never approached his unit and continued to remain a deserter. Thus, he was dismissed from service with effect from the date of his desertion and, since his entire service was confiscated, he was not entitled to any pension.

The Tribunal noted that the petitioner had been declared as a deserter and dismissed from service under Section 20 (3) of the Army Act. He claimed for a pension without challenging his dismissal order and hence the said dismissal order had become final. It was concluded that since the petitioner had been dismissed from service, therefore, in view of provisions contained under Regulation 113 (a) of Pension Regulations for Army, 2008, his entire service stood confiscated and he had no pensionable service to his credit.

In view of the above, the instant application was dismissed.[Lal Chand Ram v. Union of India, 2019 SCC OnLine AFT 2, Order dated 07-02-2019]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court:

“The legitimate expectation is not a wish or a desire or a hope, therefore, it cannot be claimed or demanded as a right.”

The Bench of Dr DY Chandrachud and Hemant Gupta, JJ said this in the appeal against Patna High Court’s order in which the State of Bihar was directed to provide financial assistance for payment of the arrears as well as current pension to the employees of the Anugraha Narayan Sinha Institute of Social Studies, Patna.

The provision in question was Section 8(1) Anugraha Narayan Sinha Institute of Social Studies Act, 1964 which provides that the State Government is to contribute a sum of rupees two lacs in each financial year or such other sums for research or education work, publication, buildings and for proper maintenance and development of the Institute. It was argued before the Court that the State Government had been releasing Grant-in-aid including amount towards pension since the Board has passed the resolution in the year 1985. Hence, the contribution towards the amount of pension has created legitimate expectation of the employees of the Institute that they are entitled to pension at par with the employees of Patna University. Thus, the employees have legitimate expectations of receipt of pension from the State Government. Therefore, the order passed by the Division Bench of the High Court does not call for any interference.

The Court, however, disagreed with the said stand and explained the provision by stating:

“Sub-Section (1) of Section 8 of the Act mandates the State Government to contribute a sum of rupees two lacs in each financial year for the maintenance of the Institute, whereas, sub-Section (2) empowers the State Government to contribute from time to time, such additional sums as it may deem fit for special items of research or education work, publication, buildings and for proper maintenance and development of the Institute. Such payment for the special projects, is in discretion of the State Government in view of the object for which the grant is to be disbursed, but sub-Section (2) does not include disbursement of the amount of pension as the contribution is for limited purpose which is not recurring in nature.”

The Bench said that the resolution of the Board of the Institute to implement a retirement benefit scheme from its own resources will not bind the State Government to pay the amount of pension to the employees of the Institute. The employees of such Institute cannot be treated at par with the employees of the State Government nor the State can be burdened with the responsibility to pay pension to the employees of the Institute.

Stating that the payment of pension in the past will not confer an enforceable right in favour of the Institute or its employees, the Court held that the order of the High Court was not legally sustainable.

[State of Bihar v. Dr. Sachindra Narayan, 2019 SCC OnLine SC 108, decided on 30.01.2019]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: A Bench comprising of Madan B. Lokur and Deepak Gupta, JJ. issued certain directions for enforcing elderly people’s rights under Article 21 of the Constitution.

The Court was considering a petition filed for recognition and enforcement of elderly people’s rights under Article 21. The petitioner prayed relief with respect to four issues: (i) Pension of the elderly; (ii) Shelter for the elderly; (iii) Geriatric care and medical facilities for the elderly (iv) Effective implementation of the Maintenance and Welfare of Parents and Senior Citizens Act, 2007 (‘MWP Act’).

After discussing all the issues, the Court was of the opinion that this was perhaps first such petition on the subject. It had stated that right to life provided under Article 21 must be given expansive meaning. The Court focused on three rights articulated by the petitioner: (a) right to live with dignity; (b) right to shelter; (c) right to health. the Court also found favour with petitioner’s alternative submission that even if constitutional rights are nor enforceable due to difficulties in “economic budgeting”, even then such rights of elderly people are protected under MWP Act which is a statutory law and the Government cannot make excuse of lack of finances in implementing the law that it had framed. The Court also considered the submissions made by the respondents including Union of India and was satisfied with their efforts in the matter.

While complementing the parties to the petition for their spirited support of the rights of the elderly, the Court issued certain directions till the time a finality is attained in the matter. The directions include:

(i) Union of India to file a status report on the number of old age homes, medical facilities and geriatric care facilities in the country.

(ii) Making senior citizens aware of their rights.

(iii) Effective implementation of provisions of MWP Act, 2007

(iv) Union and State Governments must revisit grant of pension to the elderly so that it is more realistic.

Finally, the Court directed Union of India to file the status report on or before 31-01-2019. the matter will be listed for further hearing after receipt of status report. [Ashwani Kumar v. Union of India,2018 SCC OnLine SC 2804, decided on 13-12-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Meghalaya High Court: The Bench comprising of Mohammad Yaqoob Mir, CJ. and S.R. Sen, J. directed the government to adhere to the principles of equal pay for equal work.

The writ petition was filed wherein it was contended that the government teachers were getting their pension and other benefits after their retirement while the deficit/Adhoc/aided college teachers were not getting anything except the Contributory Provident Fund (CPF).

It was to be admitted that both the categories were equally qualified who gave the same services rather some teachers in the deficit colleges were giving better service than the government teachers along with the fact that the former were also assigned with other duties from time to time. Thus it was against Articles 14, 16 and 39(d) of the Constitution of India as it was in deprivation of their right to receive a pension which was a post-retirement necessity.

The Court appreciating the petition stated that, “We must remember that teachers are the backbone of the society and it is through their contribution, dedication and hard work which has molded us to become what we are today; be it a Judge, a Minister, a Lawyer, a Doctor or an IAS Officer etc., and that, we can never forget.” Hence the respondent shall strictly adhere to the spirit the principle of Doctrine of Equality, Articles 14, 16 and 39(d) of the Directive Principles of State Policy of the Constitution of India i.e., equal pay for equal work.

Accordingly, the Court provided for the correction of the Contributory Provident Fund immediately with retrospective effect.[Meghalaya College Teachers Association v. State of Meghalaya,2018 SCC OnLine Megh 218, decided on 01-11-2018]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Calcutta High Court: A Single Judge Bench comprising of Arijit Banerjee, J. disposed of a writ petition by granting payment of interest to a retired employee on the amount of delayed payment of pension.

The petitioner was retired in 2007 while working as a teacher in a higher secondary school. The first payment order was issued in 2007 itself. Under ROPA Rules, 2009 there was a revision of pensionary and gratuity amount payable to the petitioner which order was made in 2012. The arrear revised pension was disbursed in 2013. The petitioner claimed interest on delayed payment of revised pension.

The High Court, at the outset, observed that the Limitation Act in terms does not apply to writ petition. Furthermore, it is a settled law that a retired employee is entitled to some amount of interest on delayed payment of pension. In the present case, it was a bounden duty of the State to disburse the due date. If it failed to do so and released such amount after an unexplained delay, it was obliged to pay interest to the retired employee. In such view of the matter, the Court directed the Director of Pension, Provident Fund and Group Insurance to pay interest to the writ petitioner at the rate of 9% per annum on the arrear of revised pension calculated on and from 1 June 2009 till actual date of payment. The petition was disposed of in the terms above. [Purna Chandra Mondal v. State of W.B.,2018 SCC OnLine Cal 7366, dated 03-10-2018]