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Saturday, August 15, 2015

OUR HOPES RE-KINDLED


                  But we have other problems to overcome.

Like thousands of others, I too was watching with hope, the Prime Minister’s Independence Day address to the Nation from the ramparts of the RED FORT.

From what all was heard, I fully endorse the positive signal received, as perceived and relayed by the Pensioners’ Chronicle through the Scroll, that the PM’s reference to OROP gives us hope. However, I wouldn’t go beyond at this stage.

I was wondering when the commitment is so clear and categorical, what could be the insurmountable problem that is delaying the implementation of the OROP policy. The so called nitty-gritty cannot take indefinitely long time. Obviously there are serious issues involved that need to be resolved by the Government. Chief of them could be the size of the monetary burden. In this overall context, let us move and analyse our own Pension up-gradation imbroglio.

Pension Revision, as we are demanding in LIC, stands on a totally different footing. I may also say Government’s decision to accept OROP in principle, may not help us ipso facto, because it is as applied to ex-servicemen, at least for now. Our demand is not only not accepted in principle by LIC or Government but it is being stiffly resisted. So we need to work our way through independent of OROP Clearance.

Our demand is under the microscopic scrutiny of the judiciary at the highest level. The reasons in support of our demand as well as the grounds on which it is being denied are too many and too complicated. We cannot take it easy or be complacent.

The monetary part of the burden which seems to be bothering the Government when it comes to implementing the OROP decision may not pose a big problem for us in LIC. In my understanding our case is very precariously positioned and hinges delicately on a principle of law. I feel pretty comfortable when I recall that the law of the land against discrimination is very well settled. When our case is juxtaposed on that sacred principle that any arrangement resulting in discrimination shall not survive judicial scrutiny, we win hands down. At the same breath, when I realize, we are banking heavily on the Board Resolution, that we won in three High Courts etc., we may be trading slippery paths.

When I was talking to an eminent Senior Advocate sometime ago, to whom I was trying to explain that LIC Board had already decided our matter and is now trying to renege, he asked me a sharp question, ‘suppose your Board categorically decided against Pension Revision citing whatever reasons it wants to, do you think you have no case? Will Law allow discrimination which is a taboo under the Constitution? I think your case is strong dehors your Board Resolution, it doesn’t depend upon Government’s whims and you should pursue that line before the Apex Court.

I perceive our own internal differences in the ‘approach’ to our case, are pretty harmful and detrimental to our interests. If one of the parties in our cases (ostensibly pitted against LIC & Govt) were to take a stand that he is not asking for Pension up-gradation as he is sure he is not entitled to it, what do you expect a baffled Bench to do? Tell him in the open Court, “Mr.GNS, you don’t know your entitlement in pure law – I give you pension up-gradation also, please accept it and oblige’’.
   

I am in search of a solution to this tricky problem. Can you suggest any?

M Sreenivasa Murty