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Friday, August 14, 2015

MV VENUGOPALAN


Dear Editor,

In my yesterday's Post, I had stressed the need for absolute clarity and a clear road map on the part of our Case-handlers when they make their trips to the courts. The SC order of  5th May , undoubtedly, is a feather in our cap, in the sense that the judge, who presided over, sent out a clear message, that in principle he agrees that something is due to the pensioners and a beginning has to be made by LIC in that direction by disbursing 20% of the amounts deposited in the registries of the respective HCs. Unfortunately for us, the Order had many grey areas and didn’t spell out what that 20% constituted; DR arrears only or DR together with arrears of upgradation. Surprisingly, instead of getting the Order clarified, the stakeholders representatives went into an overdrive and started acting upon their own interpretation of the said order. Let us now see the result of their hasty and indefensible actions.


  • Mr.G.N.Sridharan thought that the Order pertained to only the DR ARREARS and applying the ‘in rem’ principle all the pensioners belonging to his Federation would get the 20% arrears. He doesn't seem to be concerned about the accuracy of the calculations made by LIC ( if at all he had any clue about it) nor the number of pensioners who are going to be the beneficiaries. To complicate matters, LIC asked for a list of members belonging to his Federation and a host of other particulars about those MEMBERS. Since Mr.Sridharans single point agenda was to somehow get the 20% of arrears, he went about collecting particulars of the members as called for by LIC, and as we understand now, managed to collect from 1275 of them and submitted the same to LIC. That he might not have succeeded in collecting particulars of all pre-1997 pensioners is anybody’s guess. If this news is true, what happened to the ‘in rem’ Order of Delhi High Court. What of the fate of those pensioners who are left out ,both pre-1997 and post-1997.

The Order pertains to ALL PENSIONERS AND NOT ALL THE MEMBERS OF THE FEDERATION. It is like the Govt of India saying that only those who are in possession of Adhar card will be recognised as citizens of this country and the benefits due to a citizen would be paid only to them. The Apex Court, we are all aware, intervened at the right time and ruled that securing an Adhar card is not mandatory and only optional. How then can LIC say that the benefit is confined only to the members of the Federation and not all the pensioners who are erstwhile employees and the true incumbents. Have the pensioners hit the ‘nadir’ of their patience and so desperate that without this 20% arrears of DR their life is at stake! How is Mr.Sridharan going to address those who are members of his Federation yet left out in this race? In the first place, he should have stoutly refused to oblige LIC by providing a list of their choice thus sowing the seeds of a dangerous precedent. He is definitely answerable to the entire community of pensioners.
  • Coming to Mr.Asthana, he too thought that the SC Order pertained to all the PENSIONERS and not ALL THE PETITIONERS. He must have known by now that it was only the petitioners and not pensioners. He abstained from filing an application seeking disallowal of withdrawal of 20% of the amount deposited by LIC like Mr.Murthy did in the firm belief, while making the payment LIC would make good the shortfall in alignment with his methodology of working out the arrears, which will include both DR as well as upgradation arrears (from his letters to the Blog this is what I could infer). He has not disclosed the alternative;i.e in case LIC pays a different amount, how he proposes to react or respond. here again, I am at a loss to understand as to why he didn’t seek clarification of the Order before planning his further moves. How about the thousands of other pensioners who are left out; out in the open exposed to the thoughtless actions of their leaders, whom they trusted like demi-ods. What plans Mr.Asthana has up his sleeves for them?

We could find semblance of an orchestrated and somewhat disciplined approach on the part of Mr.Murthy in dealing with our case, both in the SC and Punjab and Haryana HC. They haven't bartered away their principled stand for “A FEW DOLLARS MORE’. They worked out certain figures and stuck to it. That they are itching for a ‘Contempt’ proceedings against LIC is another matter. The Punjab and Haryana HC Order adjourning the case to October, citing that it would be sub-judice to bestow attention on the case when the tagged –up case is before the SC and coming up on 23rd of September is, I would say, helped them peace of mind till September! As I was typing out this letter I saw Mr.Murthy's Appeal to all the Pensioners:A very practical and laudable approach sans the assertion that the peace efforts will continue to be in limbo!

I hope my pensioner friends will agree with me that on account of the three leaders representing three different group of pensioners going in different directions, throwing the basic tenets of unanimity and unity in action to the winds, more than enough damage has already been done to the interests of the pensioners. Even assuming that the 1500 pensioners decide to receive the arrears, will it be the same amount? In a way, are we not creating certain discrimination amongst the recipients of the arrears themselves. In other words, having set out to eliminate discrimination between old and new pensioners, by our own actions are we not creating a different type of discrimination? Any positive action they want to take in the future in this regard, it should encompass all the pensioners. No one could have forgotten the harm which the Class-consciousness did to the employees of LIC when they were in service. We have only just one Class now i.e Pensioners. Let us have the large–heartedness to shed the hangover of the past and move as one united group, the Community of Pensioners. 

In this regard, I have no hesitation in accepting the idea presented by Mr.Murty in his latest Post. The SC Order of 5th May is only an interim one. It is independent of what is in store for us on 23rd of September, or if need be, the extended hearings. I hope, the other two case handlers would accord the importance Mr.Murty's suggestions merit and adopt a wholesale re-think on the modus operandi in facing LIC in the SC on 23rd September.Till such time, I would request our friends who are bent upon bringing out the skeletons in others cupboards or spilling the beans to wait till our case is over!
With warm regards,

M.V.VENUGOPALAN