Wednesday, September 02, 2015

MV Venugopalan

Dear Editor,

This is with reference to Shri.C.H.Mahadevan’s reply dt 27-8-15 in reply to my Post dt 26th August under the caption “Point of no Return”. I want to stress that I don’t fully subscribe to the views expressed by a few of our pensioners with regard to the Judgment of Hon’ble Bhandari when I used the word ‘SKETCHY’. In the process I was only trying to impress upon our Captains that the SC hearing on23rd of September is not going to be a ‘a walk-in-the-park’ for our leaders but a gargantuan and uphill task for them. Thanks to him for the providing the link to the said judgment that I had the opportunity of revisiting the same in depth. The judgment has chosen the Board Resolution as the foundation on which the edifice of our case is built. A few lines I have quoted below, which will corroborate my observation. they are:  ".. If the resolution dt 24-11-2001 is implemented then, the grievance of the petitioners can come to an end.”..

“ the respondent corporation cannot provide different criteria for grant of DEARNESS ALLOWANCE to the existing pensioners based on cut-off date i.e 31-7-1997”. It is pertinent to note that the judge has dealt with in detail the distinction between providing a cut-off date for a new pension and revision or liberalisation of an existing pension.

The judge has also taken pains to point out that on matters where the Board has passed a resolution, the matter need not go to the Government for its implementation unless and otherwise the matter is a policy decision involving public interest.

Even while highlighting the aspect of disparity “the benefit of revision in the pay scale from time to time was not extended to the pensioners etc... aforesaid aspect was also considered by the Board in its meeting held on 24-11-2001 and following decision was taken...”

While bringing in the celebrated , landmark ruling in the case of DS Nakara by the SC, the judge had dealt with the aspect of disparity created between two sets of pensioners as a result of introducing a cut-off date and has argued that the cut-off date cannot hold much water in a continuing scheme but would be relevant only when a new pension is introduced. He had not used the word absence of UP-GRADATION with every revision as the cause of the disparity.

In short, the devil is in the details. Only the words “up-gradation by giving weightage of 11.25% as in the case of in- service employees and admission of both the writs i.e one relating to the parity in DR and the up-gradation are in our favour. Here again, for our legal sustenance we have to rely heavily on the “Board resolution”. Is it not an accepted fact by now, that the Board resolution is not all that clear on up-gradation and if so what is the alternative open to us when the case comes up before the SC on 23rd September.

I have no difficulty with Mr.Mahadevan in accepting the fact that the LIC filed SLPs in the SC only because they found ‘sketchy’ and indirect reference to up-gradation in Shri.Bhandari's judgment. As I have been repeatedly mentioning removal of disparity in DR is a non-issue as far as the Govt. is concerned. We could’nt have forgotten what the Asst.Secretary finance told our representatives when they met him a couple of months ago. Let us give a deep thought to what the Senior Advocate mentioned to Mr.Murty: Even without the Board Resolution, you still have a strong and unassailable case on your hands. Let us, therefore, look for some ‘Alternate Medicine ’ to cure our ailments, instead of wholly depending upon the Board Resolution, which is ambiguous,unclear and open to multiple interpretations. LIC not giving weightage of 11.25% as for the in service employees has some link with its erroneous calculations.

Well, the present scenario is distressing, to say the least. Shri.Murty's move is a clever one; it may force LIC to come out in the open with its nefarious intentions,if any. What if they convince the court that the amount deposited by them is the correct one, according to their calculations, and the fault lies with the method pursued by the petitioners. It is also possible that the court may take a view that in as much as the final hearing is coming up on 23rd, it can be taken up at that point of time, as ruled by the Punjab and Haryana H.C. Nevertheless, the steps taken by him, commensurate with its urgency is laudable.

Mr.Sridharan’s letter to his members is admission of total misreading of LICs response. He swept all his legal acumen under the carpet for short-term gains by acceding to LICs stipulations asking him to furnish particulars of Federation members in the manner dictated by them. He has also taken anticipatory bail from his members who are waiting with bated breath, for that extra money by saying that his efforts may or may not bear fruits. He has given the handle to turn the tables on him by deposing before the SC that since Shri.GNS complied with their requirements partially, they were not in a position to disburse the arrears to them. How is GNS going to decide the appropriateness of the quantum when he , as well as the LIC are at a loss about who the beneficiaries are. Why did he not send the notice to LIC which Mr.Murty has sent now, mincing no words, that their letter is arbitrary and in total contravention of the SC Order of 7th May. A legal pundit, who even at this advanced age is practising, cannot have missed the legal import of the words ‘IN REM’.

The Hyderabad Group have broken away from AIRIEF. Neither Mr.Asthana nor Mr.Murty has any point of agreement with Shri.Sridharan. All the three of them have been acting independently of each other. Under the circumstances, does Mr.Mahadevan think that Mr.Sridharan would heed to his advice of accelerating any action he proposes to take against LIC before 23rd of September. Impossible!

This is just no speculation or kite flying but a possible scenario in the SC on 23rd, September 2015 . LIC is going to plead before the court that they were only too keen to implement the SC Interim Order of 7th May but all the three concerned parties failed to respond in the following manner:

The P&H HC petitioners didn’t allow us to withdraw the amount deposited in the registry,

Since Sri.Sridharan's federation represented only the Class I Officer Pensioners, we were unable to include all classes of employees, and, therefore, requested the Federation to furnish the particulars of their members in certain format. Since they did’nt comply with it in its entirety, we couldn't make the payment to them.

In respect of the Jaipur petitioners, it is utterly intriguing as Mr.Asthana seems to have decided to observe Mounvrita for the time being.

Is this disunity a blessing, a BOON OR A BANE, YOU BE THE JUDGE.

With warm Regards,