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Sunday, August 02, 2015

My response to Mr M V Venugopalan's reply to Mr Asthana

DUE AMOUNT IS NOT HYPOTHETICAL

Mr Venugopalan has stated,“It is true that our people dealing with the Punjab and Haryana H.C  did’nt act  according to how you strategised.  I also felt, that as long as the authenticity and veracity of the figures worked out by Shri.Mahadevan is not established, to the mutual satisfaction of LIC and the case handlers, how it would be possible for Mr.Murthy to argue that the amount deposited by LIC fell far short of the required amount. Moreover, in so far as they have not sought clarification of the 7th May Order from the Supreme Court, how did they come to the conclusion that the 20% referred to in the SC Order related to both DR and Upgradation? It was purely hypothetical….”

My humble opinion is that there is no scope for mutual satisfaction of LIC and the case handlers when LIC is deliberately misinterpreting the Jaipur  & Chandigarh HC Bench judgments on their writ petitions as also the LIC Board Resolution.

It should be appreciated that the Jaipur Single judge Bench judgment dt 12/1/2010 conveys the following decisions:
  1. The first  writ petition no 6676/1998  that prayed for removal of DR anomaly prior to 1/8/1997 and parity of DR formula  between in-service employees and retirees  has been allowed;
  2. The second  writ petition no 654/2007 praying for upgradation of pension  for retired employees  on revision of salaries for in-service employees has also been allowed;
  3. A direction has been given to LIC to take steps to implement the LIC Board Resolution.
Combining all the above three, it can be safely construed that the judgment provides for not only removal of DR anomaly prior to 1/8/1997and 100% DR neutralization, but also upgradation of pension in tandem with wage revisions.
Also five of the petitioners of Jaipur are post July 1997 retirees and the allowing of WP No 654/2007 by Jaipur Bench, entitles them also for upgradation of pension in tandem with wage revisions.

When the SLP of LIC was converted into Civil Appeal, Supreme Court made it clear that there will be no stay on the Rajasthan High Court judgment. Thus, pending the disposal of the Civil Appeal by the Supreme Court, the Jaipur SJB judgment dt 12/1/2010 has become binding on LIC.
The Punjab & Haryana High Court judgment dt 9/11/1992 had allowed the writ petition  for upgradation of pension on substituted scales of pay on 1/8/1997, & 1/8/2002 and also thereafter in terms of the Jaipur Bench judgment. The prayer in the Writ petition also included payment of interest on the belated payment of dues.
Here again, the Supreme Court refused to grant interim relief to LIC pending disposal of its Civil Appeal resulting from conversion of its SLP.Thus, this judgment is also binding on LIC pending disposal of the Civil Appeal in the case.
I am not discussing the Delhi HC judgment here  as it is restricted to removal of DR anomaly and 100% DR neutralization for pre-August 1997 retirees and not upgradation.

So considering the Rajasthan & Pb & Haryana HC judgments together, even if the aspect of interest for delayed payment is ignored, I am sure that any legal person will agree that both the judgments are presently binding on LIC although finality will emerge only on or after 23/9/2015.
The calculations made by us keeping in mind the above two judgments may not be authentic in the context of pending CAs,but in the context of LIC deliberately misinterpreting the judgments falling back on a deliberately erroneous interpretation of the ambiguously worded Board Resolution( denying  further revision of pension on 1/8/2002 and 1/8/2007 on the same principles of merger of DR with Basic Pension as at 1/8/1997),the figures can be taken as tentatively authentic unless LIC has alternative calculations to contest them  on a proper interpretation of the two HC judgments.So Mr Sreenivasa Murty was definitely  on strong grounds in arguing  that the amount deposited by LIC fell far short of the required amount .

In fact with about two years having elapsed since Supreme Court refused to stay the HC judgments, LIC has so far  got away with not implementing the judgments. It is another matter that the contempt petition at Jaipur got dismissed as withdrawn(but not on merits) and another contempt petition is pending at Pb & Haryana HC.Implementation of the judgments will not be complete unless the petitioners obtain enhanced pension every month. Aged pensioners are in a state of anxious waiting with many unfortunate ones having left this world during these two years.

For a discerning lawyer who would have perused the judgment of Jaipur, I am sure  it will be clear that LIC Board Resolution is only a part of the whole judgment. A good part of the text of the judgment has been devoted to the landmark DS Nakara judgment of the Supreme Court which focuses on upgradation of pension. But if we understand the method followed by LIC for depositing the amounts in Jaipur & Chandigarh HC Registries, it will be clearly seen that they have taken the Board Resolution as the sole basis of their calculations that too in a faulty and one-off manner as convenient to them, while the contempt petitions were for non-implementation of the HC judgments! We should remember that LIC Board Resolution was passed at a time when only wage revision as at 1/8/1997 only had taken place whereas the HC judgment dt 12/1/2010  was delivered when the wage revision effective from 1/8/2002 was also in vogue. Later in 2010 the wage revisions effective from 1/8/2007 was notified. Thus the benefits ordered by the Jaipur Bench were far more than what were envisioned by LIC Board Resolution on 24/11/2001.  

For the above reasons, my personal view is that the ‘amount due’ referred to in the Supreme Court Order dt 7/5/2015 is the amount of arrears of enhanced pension on account of removal of DR anomaly and upgradation of pension in chain. It will be appreciated that the demand is perfectly logical and legal and not hypothetical.

We need not be defensive in demanding what is legally due to us as above ,but what is more important is the deft handling of the legal fight in the Supreme Court in a non-discordant manner.

With greetings,

C H Mahadevan