Patna High Court: The Three-Judge Bench of Ashwani Kumar Singh, Birendra Kumar and Anil Kumar Upadhyay, JJ. dismissed a letters patent appeal which came as a reference to this Court in view of conflicting opinions regarding the calculation of cut-off date for counting the service of a teacher for the purposes of pensionary benefits.
The Court observed that the term ‘service condition’ is very wide and includes all the conditions of service before entry till post-retiral benefits. The following notifications/ schemes pertaining to the issue of disbursal of pension were noted by Court:
- The scheme of pension for teaching and non-teaching employees was introduced by the State Government by way of triple benefit scheme with effect from 01-04-1962. The benefit of pension was admissible to all non-government schools whether run by local bodies or private management. Therefore, with the grant of permission to establish an educational institution, a teacher or non-teaching employee was entitled to the benefit of pension as a matter of course under the 1962 triple benefit scheme.
- Secondary Education Board issued a letter dated 01-03-1977 whereby it recognized service of teachers appointed from the date of grant of permission to schools to the date of its permanent recognition.
- Another notification issued on 29-11-1978, extended pensionary benefits to teaching and non-teaching staff of Non-Government Secondary Schools.
- On 30-08-1980, the Education Department issued a notification declaring that the State Government had decided to grant benefit of general provident fund, pension (family pension) and gratuity to the teachers and non-teaching employees of recognized schools with effect from 01-04-1978. This benefit was available to all teachers and non-teaching employees, who opted for such benefit by accepting the reduced age of 58 instead of 62 years and also to all teachers appointed after 01-04-1978.
- A resolution issued on 15-01-1982 by the State Government condoned the break in service in purported exercise of power under Rule-203(A) of the Bihar Pension Rules.
In view of the above, it was held that that cut-off date for calculating pension shall be as follows: teachers appointed prior to grant of permission to school shall reckon their service from the date of grant of permission for establishment of the institution, and their service would be counted from that date for the benefit of pension.
The LPA was dismissed and all decisions contrary to the view taken in this Judgment were held to be overruled. As a parting observation, the Court noted that the issuance of a plethora of notifications regulating service condition from time to time had led to the conflicting decision of the Benches. Divergence of opinion was also due to ignorance of notifications occupying the field. Thus, the Bench deemed it appropriate for the State Government to frame exhaustive Service Condition Rules instead of issuing multiple notifications, so that conflict in adjudications may be obviated.[State of Bihar v. Asha Sharma, 2019 SCC OnLine Pat 563, Order dated 18-04-2019]