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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

MV VENUGOPALAN



Dear Editor,


It is unfortunate and rather sickening to see that the blame 

game is continuing unabated. The SC Order of 7th May seem 

to convey different things to the three leaders. Each is finding 

fault with the other for the strategies adopted. While both 

Mr.Murty and Asthana have made their intentions clear and 

open, what Sri.GNS is doing is under wrap. The net result, as 

on date, is that none of the pensioners has received a pie so far 

from LIC.


They are in the dark not only about the goings on but also about what is due to them as per the purported order  and how much they will be receiving from LIC.  The talk that what LIC has deposited in both Jaipur and Punjab and Haryana H.C is far short of the amount legitimately due to the ‘eligibles’ has further confused them.  The  fate of the post-1997 pensioners  is more pathetic. None of the three Case managers has any clue as to whether the Order speaks about only the DR arrears or it includes the arrears relating to up-gradation of pension too.   The wordings “ as per the impugned order” of the HC has been  mauled and disfigured beyond recognition. Each one has adduced his own reason for not making an attempt to ascertain what exactly  the 7th May Order meant and who are the targeted group.   The most gullible amongst them even showed utmost readiness to furnish  any information that LIC dared to ask for , in absolute contravention to the spirit of the Supreme Court Order. In short, 20% arrears has brought in its wake , only agony and total confusion to the pensioners. Thank God, the predicament is confined  to the expectant 1500 pensioners (approximately).

While Mr.Murty seems to have  taken some damage control measures by  filing an  IA in the SC, pointing out the dilatory and wilfully obfuscating  tactics of LIC in postponing the payments due to the pensioners  (petitioners in respect of both Jaipur and P&H HCs) and forestalling  contempt proceedings against them, Shri. Asthana is,perhaps,  waiting  in the fond hope that LIC will disburse to the petitioners under the Jaipur HC an amount  arrived at by him, which includes the 20% arrears pertaining to Up-gradation also. Absolutely ludicrous and  laughable  situation indeed!

Why not the three of them understand the simple logic of ‘tagging’ all the three cases?  The nature of the litigation being the same and the aggrieved parties being of a homogeneous nature the SC was very right in tying them together.  No one might have imagined that even though the over-riding concern viz; relief to the entire community of pensioners in the form of solving the issue of parity in DR and up-gradation of pension, is the same,  the three parties involved will pull in totally different directions. Any judge hearing our case is bound to be  entirely mislead by the line of arguments advanced by each party, thus delivering a judgment not doing full justice to all the three parties concerned.  This kind of  lack of unity is unheard of in any other Organisations who are also fighting similar such cases. This being the ground reality, the outcome of the SC hearing fixed for the 7th of September is a foregone conclusion.  As long as this divisive approach stays with us, LIC and the GOI will be further emboldened to strike us as hard as possible  and ensure that the victory is snatched away from us.  The very reason why they are treating the court directions with impunity and disrespect is because of the split which is wide open amongst the three of them.

Another bickering which greatly annoys us is the tussle between Mr.Murty and Mr.Asthana with regard to the legal wisdom under each ones command. Mr.Asthana seems to be under an illusion that he is the last word as far as legal  matters are concerned and no one else can be a match to him. Luckily for us,Mr.Sridharan is not in the ring to take the fight to the enemies camp. I must say that we are extremely fortunate to have all the three case-managers who are also legally qualified and practising even now.  Is it necessary that we have to depend too much on them  for legal advise when we are also engaging senior advocates to argue our cases. Supposing, it had turned out that none of them possess a legal qualification, will we not depend on our counsels to fight our case. Please, therefore, involve them more and more and allow them also certain independence when it comes to how they would like to handle the hearings. Let us not forget that they are paid for that. After all the legal issues we are dealing with are not ‘rocket science’ and all of us who have worked in LIC for 30 to 40 years know a little bit of what court cases mean.

The OROP  and our issue has no parallels whatsoever. Their pension is paid out of Govt.exchequer and our pension is paid out of the accretions to our pension fund. It should be self-sustaining So also the central-Govt pension ,the pension payable to the RBI pensioners etc.  The closest example can be that of Bank pensioners. Banking Industry and Insurance Industry are two sides of the same coin. Pensioners of the Banks are keenly watching the development of our case in the SC. The chief reason why the GOI is so much antagonistic is they are concerned that once the up-gradation is through for us, whatever the route, it will open up floodgates of series of similar issues elsewhere. The BUREAUCRATS   are dead against others getting the same benefits like themselves. The govt.of the day , a majoritarian one, in principle,  want only the ‘contributory ’pension to remain as the singular route for pension to the organised employee class,leaving intact,of course the social security option to the under-privileged. We cant rule out even the judiciary taking a stand favourable to the Govt for social reasons,notwithstanding the constitutional protection etc. (Article 14 and 16) we have,prohibiting discrimination of any form.

If they want to avoid a POINT OF NO RETURN  and remove the road-blocks, they have got to see the writing on the wall. During my recent talks with a few of our right-thinking pensioners, they strongly felt that not only our Board Resolution, but even Honble.Bhandari’s judgment too is sketchy  and not emphatic about up-gradation. Removal of parity in DR was,in fact, a non-issue vis-√†-vis the up-gradation. It is time the three of them realised this truth  and worked towards  implementation of a common agenda which inter-alia, should ensure flow of the benefits arising out of the final verdict(hopefully)  to all the pensioners.  They must engage themselves in a consultative process with the active involvement of their counsels before entering the portals of the Supreme Court. WE CAN HAVE CONTROL OVER OUR ACTIONS  BUT THE CONSEQUENCES ARE GOVERNED BY LAWS OF NATURE. In order the consequences don’t go haywire, let us exercise control over our actions!.

  With warm Regards,
  M.V.VENUGOPALAN