Of late, I have occasion to see writings, in frustration, of payments made to some of the LIC pensioners only, which I think, is the cause of the confusion giving rise to a feeling as to whether the interim payment, as per the direction of the SC, will be made only to those before the court and also the final benefit, if the SC favours the pensioners with a favourable verdict. Here are some points based on a little knowledge of law known to me.
1) Coordinate Bench is one existing along with similar Benches hearing cases in the HC/SC.All Benches have same powers.
2) Conflict of Judgements arise when two different points of views is expressed by them, which will lead to confusion as to which one of the point/s is valid.
3) Quorum is the number of the Judges present and hearing the case and taking decisions.
4) In rem and in personum are two proposition best discussed.
There may not be any difficulty in understanding points 1) & 2). But one may wonder whether there can be two different conflicting judgements on the same points. There are SC rulings that a coordinate bench shall follow a judgement of another coordinate Bench on points of law decided and if there is any irreconcilable difference, the case has to be referred to a larger Bench. (whether the present Bench consisting of two judges hearing our pension case can take a different view of the cases we are presenting in our case ?)
I had occasion to handle one such case while working in the Jaipur DO. LIC’s case was dismissed by all the Civil Courts and the First Appeal was also lost, the Hon. Judge dismissing the appeal on the basis of a SC Bench decision. Although that decision was elaborately discussed, in imitable style, elaborating various labour laws, on reading the case law, I was surprised to find that the learned counsel in that case has not done justice to his client, LIC, because he seems to have not done his home work and failed to notice a contrary decision of another Bench of the SC. That was a judgement delivered by a larger Bench presided over by the then CJ of the SC, which was also not noticed by or not brought to the notice of the other Bench. Even if it were to be a decision of a similar bench, the earlier decision will prevail. When the LIC’s plea came up for hearing, I was questioned as to how I have signed a petition for urgent hearing, when the decision was based on a SC decision. When I pointed to the larger bench decision, the Appeal was allowed for the simple reason cited above. This I have narrated, to show the importance of quorum and the rule of going by the decision of coordinate Bench especially in our pension case.
For understanding the principle of in rem, it is easy if we understand what is in personum. When a personal right, say to enjoy a property as a tenant, that is a personal right to a lessee under a contract, a decision on it will be in personum . If it is relating to the title of the property or a decision on the principle of non discrimination as in our case, its application is universal and not confined for an individual, it is called in rem. It need not be specified in the judgement specifically, as was the order of the Delhi HC in our case, but is always implied and noticed by a legally mind. This I have quoted in certain citations as proof but I have not circulated because what I wrote was for the exclusive consideration of our captains leading our cases. Therefore, there is no scope for any other opinion. However, the present action of the LIC in making the interim payment is questionable. But let us be patient because they know not, what they know not.
There need be no pessimism, because of volumes of statistics have been compiled by friends like Sri RBK and circulated to show our claim is justifiable. We have also an impregnable shield of law of precedence to support our legal contentions. I have also attempted in formulating an altogether new argument, terming the Sec.48 ‘non est’ taking into consideration some of the SC decisions. It will not be appropriate to quote details here. It is my contention that irrespective of what is stated in Sec.48 notifications and even if a new notification specifically made to deny the benefits to pre 8/97 retirees, that is not going to be legally valid. Let us be patient and not get confused. YOGASHEMAM VAHAMYAHAM.