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Thursday, August 13, 2015

MV VENUGOPALAN


Dear Shri.Gangadharan,

It is quite comforting to hear that you are back home from the Hospital and in the Editors Chair. Happier to learn that you are well on the way to total recovery. We wish and pray that you continue to enjoy good health in the days, months and years to come. God Bless.

I am extremely grateful to Mr.Mahadevan, for his post dt 2nd August, sent in reply to my last Post. He has taken pains to dwell at length on the sequence of events which finally led to where we are today. The bone of contention between us was that when I felt that the figures arrived at by him in respect of the arrears of DR and upgradation of pension would be viewed as something arbitrary and hypothetical by LIC,  he had convincingly argued that the calculations have a basis and has narrated the history behind it. Before I explain to our readers as to how I came to such a conclusion, it is imperative that I touch upon a few other related matters.

Does anyone doubt or think that prima-facie, we don’t have a case, and, therefore, we chose to take the matter to the judiciary in the hope of getting a decision in our favour, by using methods, fair or foul. Certainly not. 

  • The inequity created between two sets of pensioners on account of denying periodical upgradation of pension to the pensioners has reached ludicrously unacceptable levels. Our Constitution, which is supreme, also has vouched this beyond a shadow of doubt, through articles 14 and 16. Runaway inflation and additional expenses warranted on account of advancement in age, coupled with the primary need of leading a decent and dignified life in the society in which we live, unequivocally demands that the above benefits are not denied to the wary and hapless pensioners. In short, a simple humanistic approach is sufficient for the GOI/LIC to realise this and grant the above legitimate benefits to its pensioners as a matter of routine. This also doesn't involve any paradigm shift because this is an established practise prevalent in Govt.organisations;both Central and States.

Can anyone say that justice is not on our side? It is LICs capricious, pretentious and false postures which drove us to the courts, seeking legal remedy to our problems.. The rest is history.

Well, what happened in the courts?. We got three favourable verdicts from Jaipur HC. We had the backing of the Board Resolution, the famous judgment in D.S.Nakara case in the SC and articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution. It is here I would like to draw Mr.Mahadevan's attention; I mean the ambiguous resolution which took the 1997 settlement as the basis for fixation with merger of DR. He has mentioned LIC had worked out the arrears based on this and it is far from the actual figures worked out by us, also taking into account the subsequent wage revisions in 2002 and 2007. What I was trying to drive home was that this is a spot where there can be a dispute with LIC and it is anybody's guess that LIC will make use of this in the courts as a fertile ground for prolonging the case. Hence my suggestion to pre-empt any such move by LIC, and ensure that the amount arrived at is one which is mutually agreed upon.

At a time when all of us thought that Honble Bhandaris judgment has finally clinched the issue, and it is time to count the chickens, LIC dragged us to the S.C, this despite the fact both during the DB hearing and Review Petition, GOI chose to remain aloof. And , when the SLPs came before the SC and the same got dismissed, our hopes got rekindled. But,alas Dr.Singhvi appeared on the scene and secured LIC the right to file fresh appeal/affidavit. At that point of time, the position was that time limits prescribed not having been adhered to, and LIC having not brought out any new point , they cannot go in for further appeal. Dr.Singhvi quoted some technical points and secured a fresh lease of life for LIC. 

Luckily for us, Shri.Bhandari’s judgement was not stayed by the Supreme Court. All those who are closely following our case before the three HCs are well aware of the negative inputs we are receiving from them. Mr.Hegde was very right in doubting that even if we get a favourable verdict from the Apex Court, its implementation by LIC will not see the light of the day! When I said that the arrears worked out by us should also be the one agreed to by LIC , I meant that none of the rationale will cut much ice with LIC when their sole aim is to obfuscate the issue to the extent possible and keep stretching the case (God knows to what end). Added to this, unfortunately, we also are facing a somewhat indifferent judiciary. So, the bottom line is a void all situations giving room for uncalled for doubts and lend absolute legal clarity to each and every step we take. National litigation policy, rules available in the legal books , the residuary provision under Rule 56 of the Pension Rules 1995, constitutional provisions, none of them will come to our rescue if we ourselves are not pretty sure about in which direction we want to move. Crisis management or fire-fighting operations in crucial legal steps will land us only in un predictable and unforeseeable situations. 

Likewise, where we feel that there is lack of clarity in any Order forthcoming from the courts, before taking the next step, we must seek clarification.Till today, it remains a mystery that none of the three Case-handlers sought clarification of the 7th May SC Order. I shall deal with where each one landed, by relying on their own interpretations of the said Order, in my next post.

With Regards and wishing you a speedy recovery.

M.V.VENUGOPALAN