Case BriefsHigh Courts

Andhra Pradesh High Court: Battu Devanand, J., while addressing the instant matter, observed that,

The government is not supposed to spend public money as per their whims and fancies as public money is accrued from the payment of the taxpayers.

Discontinuation of Pensions

175 Petitioners filed the petition seeking direction declaring the action of respondents in discontinuing pensions to them as illegal, arbitrary, discriminatory and against the rules governing the distribution of pensions and direct all the respondents to distribute arrears of pension to the petitioners and continue to pay them thereafter.

Another petitioner consisting of 5 petitioners filed the petition against the respondent’s action to stop old aged/widow pensions.

Decision

The Government of Andhra Pradesh vide its order said that the Government of Andhra Pradesh is implementing various pension schemes as part of its welfare programmes for most needy and vulnerable people i.e., the persons in old age, widows, people with disabilities and weavers to provide them some succor.

Court stated that on perusal of the Government Order, it is clear that as part of welfare programmes the Government is implementing various social security pension schemes for the benefit of needy and vulnerable sections of the people to provide them some succor.

“…attempt of the government to implement these “Social security pension schemes” to provide the people belong to vulnerable sections to provide some succor is undoubtedly laudable.”

Bench emphasized the fact that the Government is the trustee of public money and is empowered to utilize the public money in a proper manner for the benefit of the public at large.

Supreme Court’s decision in Ramana Dayaram Shetty v. International Airport Authority of India, (1979) 3 SCC 489 was also referred, wherein the following was held:

“The discretion of the government has been held to be not unlimited in that the government cannot give or withhold largess in its arbitrary discretion or at its sweet will.”

Public Money

Further, the High Court also noted the fact that earlier crores of public money was spent on different activities in the State of Andhra Pradesh.

In view of the above Court stated that,

Did any person in the State ask the State Government to spend a thousand crores of rupees for organising “Godavari and Krishna Pushkaralu”? 

Did any Christian ask for “CHRISTMAS KANUKALU ?”

Did any Muslim request for “RAMJAN THOFA?”

At present, thousands of crores of rupees are being sent under various pogrammes stating that it is for the welfare of the people. 

One has to question himself whether the public money is being utilized properly as it seems to be.

Unreasonable to stop payment of meager amount

Hence, the Bench held that Court is of the opinion that while spending crores of rupees of public money for all the programmes as stated above, it is unreasonable to stop payment of meager amount being paid towards social security pension in favour of the petitioners.

Court to fortify its view cited the Supreme Court decision in, Raghunath Thakur v. State of Bihar, (1989) 1 SCC 229, wherein the following was held:

“…a person adversely affected by order has right of being heard and making representations against order, even though rules do not provide so expressly”.

Social Security

Concluding with its’ analysis, Court held that stopping payment of social security to the petitioners without conducting any enquiry or without issuing any notice is illegal, arbitrary, discriminatory and against the object of the social security pension scheme and against the principles of natural justice.

Two directions have been passed by the Bench in the above petitions:

  • Respondents are directed to make payment of pension to the petitioners from the month when it was stopped to till date within a period of 15 days.
  • Respondents are directed to continue the payment of the pension every month.

[Seepana Govindamma v. State of Andhra Pradesh, WP No. 21104 of 2019, decided on 08-09-2020]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: In the case where the question as to whether the services rendered by some Judicial Officers as Fast Track court Judges is liable to be counted for their pensionary and other benefits, the bench of J. Chelameswar and SK Kaul, JJ answered the question in affirmative and said:

“The appellants were not appointed to the Fast Track courts just at the whim and fancy of any person but were the next in line on the merit list of a judicial recruitment process. They were either part of the select list, who could not find a place given the cadre strength, or those next in line in the select list. Had there been adequate cadre strength, the recruitment process would have resulted in their appointment.”

Noticing that the judges have rendered services over a period of nine years and have performed their role as Judges to the satisfaction, otherwise there would have been no occasion for their appointment to the regular cadre strength, the bench said:

“it is a matter of great regret that these appellants who have performed the functions of a Judge to the satisfaction of the competent authorities should be deprived of their pension and retiral benefits for this period of service.”

The Court took note of the fact that the Fast Track Court Scheme was brought in to deal with the exigency and the appellants were appointed to the Fast Track courts and continued to work for almost a decade. It was also noted that the appellants were part of the initial select list/merit list for recruitment to the regular cadre strength but were not high enough to be recruited in the existing strength. Even at the stage of absorption in the regular cadre strength, they had to go through a defined process in pursuance of the judgment of this court and have continued to work thereafter

It was, hence, held:

“the methodology of non-creation of adequate regular cadre posts and the consequent establishment of Fast Track courts manned by the appellants cannot be used as a ruse to deny the dues of the appellants.”

[Mahesh Chandra Verma v. State of Jharkhand, 2018 SCC OnLine SC 520, decided on 11.05.2018]