(How LIC’s cheap strategy boomeranged)
Dear LIC Pensioners,
Many reports and comments are in circulation interpreting and reacting to the Chandigarh HC Orders dated 20th & 28th July 2015. I was a party to both. The first one dismissed the Application of LIC for withdrawal of 20% of the amount deposited one year ago. The subtle point I raised and pressed for against the withdrawal request was accepted by the Judge and was also recorded in the Order at my request. The second occasion was the Hearing of the main Contempt Petition for which LIC filed its belated reply just a day before the hearing date, that too, because of the firm directions issued by the Court on 20 July 2015.
If the Petition and the Reply are taken up and finally heard, the outcome should normally be either ALLOW the Petition (hold the respondent guilty of contempt) or DISMISS the same if the Respondent is found ‘not guilty’ as per the Court’s discretion. LIC Counsel has been pressing each time for dismissal of the Petition on the ground that it has deposited the money payable and so where is contempt? If the Petitioners are not satisfied, they have other remedies – file a civil suit for recovery of the balance if they are entitled to.
If the contempt petition is allowed, the Court may punish the contemnors for not honouring the original judgement. Or direct for its compliance in a prescribed manner with a rider, ‘if you fail to do so’ you are liable for punishment. And the petition will remain pending for final disposal. We are interested in the latter type of outcome.
The cheap strategy adopted by LIC was to withhold without filing, the Reply to the main Contempt Petition (though it was ready and signed on 17 July 2015 itself) but file instead, the Application for withdrawal of 20%. LIC wanted and the Counsel would walk away on 20th July with an Order permitting withdrawal of Rs 6.73 Lakhs and directly pay some Rs 20,000/- to each on an average. If it happened accordingly, about which LIC was confident, the Contempt petition becomes infructuous and consequently there will be no need even to file any reply to the Petition. All our doors would have been closed in Chandigarh. The trick boomeranged and the Application was dismissed. LIC was obliged to file the ‘unfiled’ reply before the hearing on 28 July. During the hearing we pressed for payment of 20% of the ‘total due’ which is Rs. 93.47 Lakhs. What is ‘total due’ is before the Supreme Court because ‘up-gradation’ demand is yet to be decided. Court chose the soft option – await the outcome of final hearing. Adjourned to 5 Oct 2015. The Contempt Petition is neither ‘dismissed’, nor ‘withdrawn’, nor ‘dismissed as withdrawn’. If a few people were hoping that history (of Jaipur) repeats itself (at Chandigarh), they would have been disappointed.
Some friends are trying to describe the 28 July Order as a setback to Chandigarh Petitioners and/or to Murty. Let them read the Order below:
Admittedly, the matter is sub-judice before the Apex Court.
To await the decision of the aforesaid appeals adjourned to 05.10.2015.
The contempt Petition is ALIVE. The Chandigarh Petitioners would take a call shortly, on their next step. All options are being explored. To me it is:
M Sreenivasa Murty