Yet another hearing is over on 30th September,
but with a difference, viz reportedly high voltage
arguments from the senior counsel of the main
Respondents with possible interventions by one
of the other Respondents’ counsel.
The details have been comprehensively placed in the public domain by Mr M Sreenivasa Murty, but nevertheless the legal battle between the petitioner and the Respondents is bound to continue and intensify till hopefully the Apex Court comes to the rescue of the pensioners.
No doubt the adjournment by 49 days is a disappointing development, but there are some hopes for pensioners as revealed from the reported intervening remarks by Hon’ble Justice Deepak Misra in the course of the hearing. We waited for nearly four and a half months since the 7th May 2015 Order of the Supreme Court for today’s hearing and we shall gradually get used to waiting for another 49 days with all the risks and opportunities during this period..
But what is more important to my mind is for pensioners as a group and as individual pensioners to ponder over how well we can utilize this waiting period for further strengthening of our chances of victory by certain actions so that we shall be better armed on 18/11/2015 when the Apex Court resumes the final hearing.
Before listing the actions, I wish to share with LIC Pensioners an information that I stumbled upon when I was dealing with the sheaf of papers containing RTI information in my possession. That is relating to the exact number of pre August 1997 retirees as follows:
(Source: LIC Central Office letter ref Per/ER/Pension dt 20/2/2009 addressed to Shri Sanjeev Sinha, Under Secretary to GOI, DFS,MoF).
Besides this number there will also be the pensioners who died after retirement after 1/1/1986 before the notification of LIC Pension Rules ,1995 and also those who died after the notification till 20/2/2009. I am not having the exact number of the deceased pensioners who retired after 1/1/1986, but before 31/7/1997. I shall welcome information from any of our pensioner friends the figures of deceased pre-August 1997 retiree-pensioners if they can provide. Assuming that family pensioners constitute 38% of the Regular Pensioners( the ratio as on 31/3/2013), there must have been estimatedly 6269 family pensioners of pre-August 1997 retirees as at 20/2/2009.
So totally 22767 regular pensioners & family pensioners under the pre Aug 1997 retiree-category are to get the benefit of the SC Order dt 7/5/2015 as against which only about 1300 have been identified by LIC for payment of interim relief(leaving the post-July 1997 retirees who are also eligible for receiving interim relief).
This is definitely an unfortunate situation in which 94% of pre-August 1997 retirees/family pensioners are placed today as left out beneficiaries.
Against this backdrop, the following may be some of the actions that individual pensioners may be well advised to take to bring some pressure on LIC to render justice:
1. It is clear from the way LIC has been handling deposits in two High Court Registries, that they have followed a deliberately anomalous formula and methodology and presumably LIC has paid a grossly incorrect and inadequate amounts to the selected few pre-August 1997 retirees through a direct credit to their Bank accounts. But, in the absence of the supporting calculations by LIC, The recipient pensioners cannot legally question their payments. So the proper course for the recipients will be to demand the calculations from LIC invoking the RTI Act 2005.
Here there is a role for the case managers to guide the recipients to send uniformly worded letters to Chairman,LIC, with copies to Secretary Financial Services and Prime Minister of India. (Applications under RTI Act may of course be required to be made to the CPIO at Central Office).Simultaneously, the case managers may also need to follow up with LIC through their respective Associations/Federations.
3. Those 94% of pre-August 1997 retirees who were not fortunate enough to be identified as beneficiaries by LIC may also need to write letters to Chairman,LIC demanding the payment of interim relief as ordered by the Supreme Court after calculating the proper amount.
4. As Supreme Court has not precluded the post-July 1997 retirees from receiving the interim relief, all the pensioners who have retired after 1/8/1997( upto 31/7/2007) are also justified in demanding interim relief.
(It should be noted that 5 of the 27 petitioners in the Jaipur writ petition are from post- July 1997 retiree-category and fall under the’ beneficiaries’ category of the impugned judgment of the Jaipur HC Bench).
5. It is common knowledge that not a single family pensioner has been paid the interim relief by LIC, presumably because the latter’s methodology only warrants reduction and recovery of family pension. This is where regular pensioners like us can play a humanitarian role by approaching family pensioners of our known deceased pensioner-friends and encouraging them to write letters to Chairman, LIC and others. If possible, Associations can obtain lists of family pensioners from OS depts of pension disbursing offices and act on that list to approach the family pensioners and guide them for sending the letters.
6. My email exchange with Mr K Kalyanaraman, a senior retired officer of LIC has revealed that all the pensioners (who retired between 1/8/1992 and 31/7/1997) who are having their Basic Pension at Rs 2449/- or less will get reduced revised pension from 1/8/1997 according to the method followed by LIC.In the illustrative charts prepared by LIC as at 1/8/2003 and sent to the Joint Secretary(Insurance) on 11/8/2003,the retirees in the cadre of RCs and below are shown to get negative values in monthly difference in pension.
In other words, Class III & IV pensioners who had retired during this period drawing the basic pension of Rs 2449/- or less will be harder hit than higher cadres on account of non-upgradation of pension as per the Jaipur judgment. Perhaps they may look to their representative body/ies of pensioners to take up the matter with LIC Management to remedy such anomaly. I am not sure how many pensioners fall in this category.
7. Of course the case managers have got both the opportunity provided by a long preparation time and the challenge of getting ready a set of clinching strategies for the final onslaught on 18/11/2015 towards a victorious grand finale.
All these steps will require constant and intensive interactions among the stakeholders for purposeful action and helping devise effective strategies for the final hearing on 18/11/2015.
While making the above suggestions, I must also add a caveat that all the above steps are in the context of LIC having acted deliberately to provide a restricted benefit of revision of pension from 1/8/1997 for pre-August 1997 retirees(that too limited to about 1300 retirees) without resolving pre-August 1997 DR anomaly and without providing even minimal upgradation of pension on 1/8/2002 and 1/8/2007.I am sure that the case managers and the counsel for the respondents in the three CAs will assiduously strive towards removal of DR anomaly prior to 1/8/1997 and wholesale, anomaly -free upgradation for all pensioners-existing and of the future.