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Friday, January 08, 2016

M Sreenivasa Murty


(BUT THE PROOF OF THE PUDDING IS IN THE EATING)

LIC Pensioners are obliged to the Chronicle 
for periodically keeping its readers well informed, 
through the inputs from several eminent contributors, 
with their views, reviews and counter views throwing 
valuable light on ‘life & litigation’.
   
The New Year started with a brilliant two-part exposition (looking back…..looking forward) of the whole gamut of our ‘case’ (or is it our ‘fate’?) before the Supreme Court and the roles being played by the various dramatis personae, by Sri MV Venugopalan.

Then followed a couple of well researched articles by the redoubtable SN (a 1992 Pensioner) - ‘updating of Pension – some mute points’ & the more striking ‘how long to wait – with patience?’

We certainly had the inevitable interventions by the Oracle on the subject – Sri C H Mahadevan – with his ever authentic inputs, as also responding to SN, through his two write-ups ‘Pre-August 1997 retirees taken for a ride’ & ‘Pension updation as per SPC Recommendations’ 

I too like many others, have enjoyed and am benefitted by reading each of the Posts I listed above. But I must admit that I was tempted (or provoked?) to respond and write back only on reading the latest Post by Sri AS Ramanathan titled ‘What can be expected from the SC?’

Sri MVV has been playing the role of an ‘elder statesman’ whenever he writes, to address ‘all concerned’. He skilfully and purposefully skirts controversial content on the subject per se. It is up to the ‘concerned’ to see the point and act for the common good or get miffed and get lost, as far as MVV is concerned.

M/s SN & CHM (and some contributors, elsewhere) come from a different background – their inputs and analyses flow from undisputed hard work, original deep knowledge & command over the subject, fortified by continuous research. Ordinary mortals like me can only go through their facts & figures and their elucidation in awe and admiration, own and act upon, by using the info judiciously and with advantage.  (Disagreement and dissent on their logic and conclusions sometimes is unavoidable though).

Mr A S Ramanathan, started his article (‘what can be expected from the SC?’) so well, inviting serious attention with concurrence to what he said, when one reads the first paragraph. To me he even raised big hopes to eagerly look for something in the rest of the write up, consistent and equally sensible, as seen in the opening lines. I hoped he would suggest something striking and original, by way of ‘action points’. 

But alas, he drifted from his own initial opening logic so routinely and unfortunately ended up with ‘political’ conclusions. If this remark of mine is uncharitable, I owe him and all the esteemed readers of PC, an explanation. I readily offer one but before I do so, a little background info I possess about Mr ASR and his solid work, to put things in perspective.

It should be said to the full credit of Mr ASR that he produced and placed at the disposal of the Jaipur Petitioner, enormous volume of material touching upon the Statute, Rules, Subordinate Legislation and the case law pertaining to Sec 48 of LIC Act and its subsequent amendments.    I have not been one of his chosen few, in his early mailing lists for his long narratives, that could be categorized (in a positive sense) as ‘research papers’ covering our case before SC, meant for consumption and possible use  exclusively by the Jaipur case proprietor (only others could be called case managers and not he). I was later getting the opportunity to read ASR’s arguments, during the second or third round of circulation in public. When these ‘papers’ entered into limited public domain, Mr ASR’s punch line used to be ‘we should keep our strong (law) points to ourselves and not let our opponents get any hint of them’. This so-called caution line was somewhat overdone with the result that there was little scope for the contrary view to be presented much less accepted or appreciated.

Over a period of time, the write ups became so voluminous and at times repetitive & monotonous that I suspect even the original Petitioner for whom they were meant, became sceptical and lukewarm in response. Then the continuing inputs were let sneak in to a slightly larger circle. Results of course, remained hazy. I felt then and feel even now that all the hard work he has been putting in, would not serve the desired purpose unless he himself takes part (if allowed to take part) in briefing the Sr Counsel on the line of arguments the client would like the counsel to adopt and marshal.  I am not sure whether such a move is in the scheme of things for Jaipur. If not, all the efforts and inputs of Mr ASR will only qualify and be useful as excellent material for a PhD on Sec 48 of LIC Act.

My disillusionment about Mr ASR’s line of arguments started and remained unchanged with his stand as I understood that the Jaipur Judgement is unassailable and the Government cannot rope in the mischief of Sec 48 to fight the Jaipur judgement. He seems to be anxious to challenge the constitutional validity of Sec 48, at the present stage of CA being heard by the SC, even without ever challenging its vires before the HC. He may pardon me if my reading of his mind is factually incorrect.

Be that as it may, in his current article (‘what can be expected from the SC?’) he made a couple of observations that I am personally not comfortable with. One - he will disclose something after the arguments conclude and the judgement reserved. What for? For academic discussion on what went wrong? Instead, he should rather confide it with his good friend in Jaipur, if it has any purpose to serve. Second - his claim that all arguments to counter Govt/LIC’s pleas are prepared extensively and shared with all the case managers. Obviously this has no way of being a fact. Barring Jaipur (if at all) there are no buyers for this strategy. In fact Mr GNS, the Delhi Petitioner, owns Sec 48 and defends its sanctity as much as the Govt & LIC, if not more. The Counsel for the Chandigarh Petitioners has his views on the topic varying from Mr ASR’s. Another reason for my disappointment is that Mr ASR writes “The Judge said that the way to remove the anomalies is only to revise the Pension’.  A person of Mr ASR’s legal acumen should be more accurate in quoting from a Judgement.

If I am allowed to echo my views public yet again, the Jaipur judgement is no doubt the fulcrum of our cases after all, but it can also prove the Achilles heel and land us in major trouble if the Counsel is not fully prepared to face and overcome a situation where the Directions to LIC to implement the Board Resolution SANS Govt. approval, does not find favour with the Bench. Mr ASR should revisit his own first paragraph to appreciate this concern of mine. My more serious concern is that unless a miracle happens (in other words, unless one of the parties before the Supreme Court makes a miracle happen), LIC’s Civil Appeals will get dismissed but the Pensioners will not be better off.

I am writing separately, to share my other thoughts focussing on the ‘action points’. It is something like, ‘ask not what the country has done for you, ask what you can do for the country’. In my case:

Ask not what you want the other players to do (because they will never listen to you) but tell all what you wish to do for the LIC Pensioners.   GOD BLESS LIC PENSIONERS