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Friday, October 02, 2015

WHAT WE NEED TO DO IN OCTOBER 2015


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.

      2. Reportedly there are still a number of identified pre-August 1997 retirees who are yet to         receive the 20% interim relief.They need to follow up with the LIC Management invoking           RTI Act 2005 to expedite payment with calculation sheets.

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.

Greetings.

C H Mahadevan