Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

Central Administrative Tribunal, Ernakulam: The Coram of Bidisha Banerjee (Judicial Member) and Nandita Chatterjee (Administrative Member) allowed the application granting desired relief to the ailing applicant.

The applicant has filed the present application seeking the disbursement of all the pensionary benefits with all consequential and incidental benefits due to him since his retirement and also in the future. The facts of the case are such that the applicant retired from the post of a police constable on 28-02-2017. He completed all the requisite formalities for disbursement of his post-retirement benefits. However, later he was informed that his service and office records were found to be incomplete and that his service register has been forwarded for verification meanwhile a recommendation for a provisional pension was made. Even after multiple representations for speedy disposal of all pensionary benefits, the same hasn’t been done by the respondent. Currently, the applicant is only drawing a provisional pension which is peanuts compared to what his actual monthly pension should be. Benefits to the tune of approximately Rs 30 lakhs are still due towards him from his employer department. The applicant has alleged that the delay in disbursement of full pension and terminal benefits is not due to the fault of the applicant but due to the laxity and callousness of the concerned higher officers. The applicant contends that he cannot be penalised for his senior’s fault. The applicant is a heart patient and he has landed in a tight spot both economically and mentally.

The applicant had earlier filed OA No. 56 of 2018 before this tribunal for a direction to the respondents to disburse the balance retirement benefits and balance pensionary benefits and the tribunal had disposed of the above OA by directing the respondents to consider his representation and dispose of the same by a speaking order within a period of two months. The respondent has still not initiated any steps to release the full pension.

Counsel for the respondent, S. Manu has submitted a detailed reply contending that the applicant is not entitled to receive the benefits prayed for. Upon verification of the service records, several discrepancies were revealed which indicated that the applicant used to habitually overstay his leave on several occasions without the permission of the competent authority and subsequently he was warned on several occasions. It is contended that there’s no deliberate delay on part of the respondents in sanctioning the pension. The applicant’s leave account is incomplete and there is a break in his service. Pensionary benefits can only be settled once the process of verifying the service record of the applicant is complete.

On careful perusal of the facts, circumstances and the arguments advanced this tribunal observed that it is evident that there is no serious dispute preventing the disbursement of full pension to the applicant. The applicant is entitled to receive his post-retirement benefits without any further delay.  The delay has been caused due to the actions of the department which failed to collect the details of applicant’s leave and period of overstay. More than two years have passed since his retirement and only a meager pension has been paid to him in this duration.

The tribunal finds no dispute regarding applicant’s eligibility of pension and the respondents have been directed to complete all the document-related formalities within a period of three months from the date of receipt of a copy of this order and pass necessary orders releasing the pensionary benefits entitled to the applicant. In the event of failure, the respondents will be liable to pay interest @ 12% per annum for the delay in granting the pensionary benefits to the applicant.

In view of the above, the present application has been allowed by the tribunal in applicant’s favour. [K. Koya v. Superintendent of Police, 2020 SCC OnLine CAT 333, decided on 07-09-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: The Division Bench of A.M. Shaffique and Gopinath P., JJ., while addressing the issue of disbursement of post-retirement benefits during the pendency of disciplinary proceedings held that only pension is to be paid with other benefits to be kept on hold.

The present petition has been filed by the State (respondents) against the interim order dated 12-12-2018 passed by the Kerala Administrative Tribunal (KAT) in O.A. No. 1873 of 2018.

The facts of the case are such that the respondent had filed an application (O.A. No. 1873 of 2018) before the KAT requesting disbursement of pension and other benefits, including DCRG due to him post-retirement. It was submitted by him that no proceedings are pending against him except an oral enquiry. The tribunal ended up granting him an interim relief observing that disciplinary proceedings will not stand in the way of disbursement of the pensionary benefits due.

Counsel for the petitioner, Chandrasekharan Nair has contended that no disciplinary proceedings were initiated against the respondent prior to his retirement. The enquiry has been sanctioned vide Govt. order dated 02-08-2018, pursuant to which proceedings were initiated against the respondent and an enquiry officer has been appointed. Failed attempts have been made to serve the memo of charges on the delinquent respondent. There are also other actions pending against the respondent. Given the circumstances, the tribunal ought to not have issued the order for disbursement of all the post-retirement benefits.

Counsel for the respondent, Gokul Babu has reiterated the respondent’s contention that he’s already been paid the requisite pension but DCRG and other benefits are still due to him.

After careful consideration of the facts, circumstances and the arguments advanced the Court observed, bearing in mind that certain disciplinary proceedings are still pending against the respondent, it would only be pertinent that the proceeding under the aforementioned O.A. is expeditiously disposed off. Also, till the time the same is disposed of, it is only fit that the payment of DCRG and other benefits to the delinquent respondent be kept in abeyance. Though, the respondent will continue to receive his pension as before.

In view of the above, the bench disposed of the petition in favour of the petitioners, staying KAT’s interim order dated 12-12-2018. [State of Kerala v. K. Jayakumar, 2020 SCC OnLine Ker 3613, decided on 20-08-2020]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: A Division Bench of R.K. Deshpande and N.B. Suryawanshi, JJ., while addressing an issue with regard to the deduction of pension by the Bank without any confirmation from the employer, observed that,

“The pension payable to the employees upon superannuation is a ‘property’ under Article 300-A of the Constitution of India and it constitutes a fundamental right to livelihood under Article 21 of the Constitution of India.”

“Pension cannot be deducted without authority of law.”

Petitioner a retired assistant foreman had a basic pension of Rs 1,334 as on 01-10-1994, consequent upon an increase in the pension and dearness allowance, the basic pension of Rs 25, 634 was fixed, for which the petitioner was entitled to and accordingly he was paid.

Right to Information Act, 2005

In the month of August, 2019 petitioner’s pension was reduced without consent or knowledge of the petitioner and thus he filed an application under the Right to Information Act, 2005 to know the reason for deduction and details as to the revision of the pension during the period 2015-16 and 2016-17.

Excess Payment of Pension

Respondent stated that there was an excess payment of pension to the petitioner.

Petitioner in view of the above approached the Court challenging the action of the respondent and sought a further direction to the respondents to restore the position in respect of payment of pension, prevailing prior to the deduction which commenced from 01-08-2019.

Excess Payment by SBI

State Bank of India-respondent stated that an amount of Rs 872 per month was erroneously paid in excess to the petitioner due to technical error in the system.

Reserve Bank of India

According to Circular No.RBI/2015-16/340-DGBA.GAD.No.2960/45.01.001/2015-16 dated 17-3-2016, clause (c), the bank claims to have an authority to recover the excess payment to the petitioner.

“c) In case the pensioner expresses his inability to pay the amount, the same may be adjusted from the future pension payments to be made to the pensioners. For recovering the over-payment made to pensioner from his future pension payment in installments 1/3rd of net (pension + relief) payable each month may be recovered unless the pensioner concerned gives consent in writing to pay a higher installment amount.”

Employer’s stand is very clear in the present case that the fixation of the petitioner’s pension was correct and proper.

Further, the employer has supported the claim of the petitioner and has no role to play in the matter of reduction of pension or its recovery.

Bench states that it is not the authority of the Bank to fix the entitlement of the pension amount of the employees other than the employees of the respondent-Bank.

Hence the action of the Bank to reduce the pension of the petitioner is unauthorised and illegal.

Furthermore, the Bank has failed to demonstrate any technical error in the calculations.

With regard to the RBI clause as stated above, Court stated that “once we hold that in fact there was no excess payment made to the petitioner, the question of applicability of the instructions issued by the RBI or undertaking given by the petitioner does not arise.” 

Principles of Natural Justice

Without following the principles of natural justice in the manner of either carrying out correspondence with regard to the correctness of the pension or an explanation in respect of the deduction, the said action on the part of the Bank is arbitrary, unreasonable, unauthorised and in flagrant violation of the principles of natural justice.

Breach of Trust

Bank is the trustee of the pensioner’s account and has no authority in the eyes of the law to dispute the entitlement of the pension payable to the employees other than those who are employed in the bank.

To tamper with the account is nothing but a breach of trust.

Court directed Bank to refund the amount of Rs 3,26,045 to the petitioner by crediting it in his pension account with interest at the rate of 18% p.a. from the date of deduction.

Further, the bank is required to be directed to pay the costs of Rs 50,000 to the petitioner towards the expenses of this petition.

Unfortunately, the time has come to tell the Bank that the aging is natural process, which leads to weakening of the body and mind.

Adding to its conclusion, Court stated that the Bank officials must realize that tomorrow it may be their turn, upon superannuation, to fight for the pension or post-retiral benefits. The thought process, therefore, to be adopted should be of a person in a situation like the petitioner.

Respect, dignity, care, sensitivity, assistance, and security would automatically follow.

Senior Citizens

It is a high time for the Banks to create a separate cell and to device a method to provide personal service through the men of confidence, at the door-step to the old aged, disabled and sick persons who are the senior citizens.

Bench directed registry to forward the copies of the Judgment to the Centralized Processing Pension Centres of all the Nationalized Banks and also to the Reserve Bank of India and the Chief Secretary, Government of Maharashtra, to consider the question of the constitution of separate cell and release of appropriate guidelines so as to attain the constitutional goal of providing respect, dignity, care, sensitivity, assistance and security to all the pension account holders in the Banks.[Naini Gopal v. Union of India, LD-VC-CW-665 of 2020, decided on 20-08-2020]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

Armed Forces Tribunal: A Division Bench of Justice Rajendra Menon (Chairperson) and Lt. Gen Phillip Campose (Member) A, allowed the application.

In the instant case, the respondents has prayed for revision of pension in accordance with the last rank held by him before retirement as a Junior Warrant Officer vide Government circular dated 09-02-2001 which states that ten months continuous service in the last rank is not required for grant of pension in such rank.

Counsel for the petitioners, Manoj Kumar Gupta has relied on the judgment titled Pramod Kumar Singh v. Union of India (O.A. 1166 of 2017) and Ashok Kumar Tanwar v. Union of India (O.A. of 882 of 2016) which waived on 10 months pension. He further submitted that pension cannot be deprived to an individual to a rank for which he has already rendered service and earned pension in the rank of JWO and is entitled for the same.

Counsel for the respondents, Avdhesh Kumar Singh submitted that holding the last rank before retirement for calculating pension has been dispensed with and the present calculation to give pension for the lower rank is financially beneficial.

After hearing both sides, the Tribunal relied on the judgment titled P. Gopalakrishnan v. Union of India (O.A. No. of 62 of 2014) and held that after going through various circulars presented it was found that the calculation made for the respondents was detrimental. He further observed that pension is a statutory right and the respondents cannot be denied the entitlement of the same. It was directed to recalculate the pension based on the relied judgment.

In view of the above, the application was allowed.[JWO Meghnath Majumdar v. Union of India, 2020 SCC OnLine AFT 1601, decided on 05-08-2020]


*Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has put this story together

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: While deciding the petition in favour of the petitioner, Manish Kumar, J., prohibited the U.P. Government from adjusting the excess payment against gratuity.

The facts of the case are that the present petition had been filed by the petitioner for quashing the impugned order of District Development Officer, Sultanpur dated 21-01-2016 directing Senior Treasurer, Sultanpur to recover/adjust the excess payment made to the petitioner amounting to Rs 2,48,673 from his gratuity.

The petitioner retired from a Class III post on 31-01-2015. Vide order dated 31-1-2012 his grade pay was upgraded w.e.f. 01-12-2008 in pursuance of the Government orders at that point in time and the petitioner drew the increased grade pay till the date of his retirement.

Counsel for the petitioner, Vyas Narayan Shukla has contended that post one year of the petitioner’s retirement, the impugned order was passed in breach of the principles of natural justice as the petitioner was not served with any show cause, nor did he get any opportunity of hearing prior to the passing of the impugned order.

The State counsel argued that the impugned order has been passed in pursuance of the order dated 04-09-2013 passed by the Commissioner, Rural Development, Lucknow, U.P., wherein, the sanction of upgraded grade pay to the petitioner was held to be in contravention of relevant Government provisions, ordering the recovery of excess amount from the petitioner. The counsel for the respondent also exhibited a Request dated 06-07-2015 by the petitioner for fixation of his grade pay and sanction of pension after the necessary deduction of excess amount.

Upon careful examination of the facts, circumstances and arguments, the Court observed that the Commissioner was reticent about the manner in which relevant Government orders were transgressed.

The Court also remarked that even though the petitioner retired on 31-01-2015, his terminal benefits were withheld for a period of seven months, landing him in a predicament. It is clear that unpleasant treatment was meted out to the petitioner, exploiting his vulnerability thus compelling him into making the aforementioned request. Additionally, no person in his right frame of mind would go out of the way to give his assent for such an act of recovery.

Petitioner’s counsel cited the case of State of Punjab v. Rafiq Masih, (2015) 4 SCC 334 and the Court relied on the same while delivering the judgment in the present matter. The case lays down the circumstances under which recovery from retired employees is not permitted. The relevant para is quoted below for reference:

“18. It is not possible to postulate all situations of hardship, which would govern employees on the issue of recovery, where payments have mistakenly been made by the employer, in excess of their entitlement. Be that as it may, based on the decisions referred to herein above, we may, as a ready reference, summarise the following few situations, wherein recoveries by the employers, would be impermissible in law:

  • Recovery from employees belonging to Class-III and Class-IV service (or Group ‘C’ and Group ‘D’ service).
  • Recovery from retired employees, or employees who are due to retire within one year, of the order of recovery.
  • Recovery from employees, when the excess payment has been made for a period in excess of five years, before the order of recovery is issued.
  • Recovery in cases where an employee has wrongfully been required to discharge duties of a higher post, and has been paid accordingly, even though he should have rightfully been required to work against an inferior post.
  • In any other case, where the Court arrives at the conclusion, that recovery if made from the employee, would be iniquitous or harsh or arbitrary to such an extent, as would far outweigh the equitable balance of the employer’s right to recover.”

Later, the Court while rendering the judgment held that the recovery via deduction from gratuity has been approved and executed in ignorance of the Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972 declaring the order dated 21-01-2016 as untenable. The respondents were directed to release the amount of Rs 2,48,673 along with an interest of 7% to the petitioner, calculated w.e.f. 31-01-2015 till the date of actual payment. Also, payment was to be effectuated within three months of service of a copy of the order.

In view of the above, the petition was allowed without costs.[Kapil Dev Chaturvedi v. State Of U.P, 2020 SCC OnLine All 933, decided on 24-07-2020]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The bench of Ashok Bhushan and R. Subhash Reddy, JJ has directed that all old age people who are eligible for pension should be regularly paid pension and those identified older people should be provided necessary medicines, masks, sanitizers and other essential goods by respective States.

The Court further directed that as and when any individual request is made, the same shall be attended to by the Administration with all promptness. The care givers of those old age homes should be provided personal protection and appropriate sanitization should also be undertaken in the old age homes.

The direction was passed after it was told that the older people, who are living alone, are worst sufferers and they are not able to get medicines, masks, sanitizers and other essential goods. The care givers of these people are also not equipped with personal protection equipment and are also untrained. The petitioner submitted that the older people have already been identified since most of them are getting pension from the States under the different schemes and that appropriate direction be issued for timely payment of old age pension to all elder persons who are in receipt of the pension.

On the submission that the elderly people are not getting priority in the Government hospital irrespective of their capacity to pay, the Court observed that the elderly people should be given priority in the admission in the Government hospital looking to their vulnerability for COVID 19. In event of any complaint made by the elderly people, the hospital administration concerned shall take immediate steps to remedy their grievances.

The States have to file their reply affidavit within four weeks.

[Dr. Ashwani Kumar v. Union of India, 2020 SCC OnLine SC 620 , order dated 04.08.2020]


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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]