Tuesday, January 12, 2016

MV Venugopalan

Dear Editor,

On reading Shri.M.Sreenivasa Murty's “Views, Reviews and Counter Views”, a particular observation struck me. While dwelling on Sec 48 and the Jaipur judgment, he had this to say;” the Jaipur Judgment 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 doesn't find favour with the Bench”. 

This came as a response to Mr.Ramanathan's belief that Sec 48 is arbitrary and authoritative and hence violative of Article 14 of the constitution. We all know that equality before law is more fundamental than anything else guaranteed under the constitution. There can be no law whereby all are declared equal, but some more equal than the others; I mean what we call in a simple language, ‘discrimination’’. We are all aware of the effort put in by Mr. Ramanathan in finding ways and means of invalidating Sec.48 and prove the inalterable efficacy and import of our Board Resolution, which as rightly observed by Mr.Murty is the fulcrum and crux of Shri. Bhandari's judgment.

Mr.Murty's doubt is what happens if the Bench thinks otherwise i.e. Sec.48 has relevance in as much as it vests in the Govt. the ultimate power of approval of LIC’s Board Resolution. Mr. Mahadevan also has raised the same doubt in his latest reply to Mr. Ramanathan’s letter. Expecting the judge to strike down section 48 as anti-constitutional to pave the way for our winning the case may be a far-fetched view. While the possibility cannot be ruled out, it shouldn't be our sole expectation. In this connection, I think it may not be out of place to quote the remarks made by Hon’ble Judge, Shri.Deepak Misra in one of the recent hearings, when one of our counsels referred to our Board resolution; “ if the Resolution was not statutory and if it required Govt.approval to become effective that is how it is” and , therefore, the counsel cannot defend the Jaipur decision to the contrary with his line of approach. He went on to add “ there are different categories of Pensioners who receive different rates of pension. Forget Govt. for a while, how do you defend your position? 

Notwithstanding Article 14 of the Constitution, there is no way anyone can stop our judges from thinking differently. I am nobody to express a contrary opinion to what Mr.Ramanathan has stated for the simple reason that I don’t have as much in-depth knowledge about legal matters as he has, I am only trying to drive home the fact that in case Sec.48 creates a road block, we should have Plan B or even Plan C to move forward changing our direction altogether, if need be.

And as regards the DR conundrum, as already mentioned by me, on 20th of this month, in the Supreme Court, priority should be given to updation of Pension and everything else, including the DR issue can take a back seat. Mr.Mahadevan, is unarguably , the best brain we have in delving deep into the intricacies involved in the calculation of the DR. I am sure, by now, he has enough material with him to write a Book on the subject. However, as expressed by him in his letter to Mr.Ramanathan, will we get time to even deliberate on substantive issues like Sec.48 before the Supreme Court. If past experience is any clue or indicator, the answer is an emphatic NO. It will be a major achievement on the part of our counsels if they are able to forestall any move by LIC/GOVT for an adjournment. Moreover, while the pre-1997 pensioners got, in principle, part justice the post-1997 feel orphaned due to the pension issue showing no progress so far. Don’t forget, they are in the majority and democratic norms demand that they are accorded the priority that they deserve.

Better late than never, yes, I mean the application for Impleadment by AIRIEF in the Supreme Court, yesterday. Hope, the other two group leaders also must have taken necessary action to do it . If only our Case Managers take a holistic view of all that transpired in the past, make the best use of the inputs they have received all these days from various sources, both legal and otherwise, and last but not the least, if only they have analysed all possible scenarios emerging in the SC on 20th and equip their counsels suitably, success is bound to knock at our doors on 20th January.

With Greetings,