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Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Letters: Resolve pension issues



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It is a fact widely known that bank employees are key to the socio-economic development of India. Whether it is the Prime Minister's Rozgar Yojana, the 20-point economic programme, the Pradhan Mantri Jan-Dhan Yojana, the Micro Units Development & Refinance Agency Ltd, priority sector lending or self-help groups, each of them is implemented by bank employees. But after retirement the same employees face monetary problems and agony as they do not get their rightful pension due to anomalies, deviations and violations.

It is evident that the Indian Banks' Association (IBA) has failed to grasp the relevance and significance of the pension concept. A divisional bench of the Supreme Court headed by Justice Deepak Misra and Abhay Manohar Sapre made it clear in civil appeal number 1123 on July 1, 2015 that pension is equal to wages paid to retired employees. Hence, whenever wages are revised, pension should also be revised. Pension is not an act of mercy towards retired employees; it is their right. It is not at the discretion of the employer that employees are to be paid pension. Lack of funds is not a justification for non-payment of pension. Litigation for the sake of it should be avoided
The main anomalies in pension payment are as follows. Although wages have been revised four times in the last 20 years, the pension scheme in banks, since its inception in 1995, has not been revised even once. Family pension paid to wives of deceased retired employees is a meagre 15 per cent of the latter's last monthly pay. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) revised family pension for its retired staff from 15 per cent to 30 per cent of pay a long time ago. Yet the amount under family pension, included in the bank pension rules which are based on the RBI pension rules, was not revised at all. Moreover, thousands of eligible bank retirees were denied pension.

Even after the Supreme Court's verdict, the IBA did not rectify the anomalies. Appeals made from time to time to the IBA also did not bear fruit. Hence, I am glad that the Supreme Court's Bar Association has extended a helping hand to bank retirees by taking up their case without any fee. I appreciate their gesture. The Supreme Court could, on humanitarian grounds, direct the Union Ministry of Finance and the IBA to resolve the above-mentioned issues without further delay because justice delayed is justice denied.


K L Rao Visakhapatnam
(Reproduced from Business Standard)