My interactions with some senior pensioners point to some anxiety that in-fighting among pensioners' groups may adversely affect the outcome of our legal struggle in the Apex court.No doubt it is unfortunate that such a situation is existing and does no show any sign of abating.
I personally feel that we not get unduly get worked up with such happenings as differences are bound to arise when multiple Associations/Federations are in the field albeit for more or less common objectives.In the banking sector we are all aware that the Pensioners' Associations were openly sore with the in-service bank employees' Associations for having signed the eighth Bipartite Settlement including the Record Note clearly stating that pension was not a contractual liability towards bank pensioners.
The real threat to the interests of pensioners does not emanate from within the population of pensioners, but from some vested interests external to it notwithstanding conflicts in ideology and approach of the different groups many a time triggered by ego problems.
But this does not alter the situation as far as our expectation from the judiciary is concerned.The facts cannot be altered. The merits of the case cannot be diminished in the eye of the court if only the case is properly presented.There is no denying that glaring anomalies are allowed by LIC/GOI to persist for over 15 years both on account of an anomalous DR formula for pre- August 1997 retirees and lack of upgradation of pension for all pensioners.The fact cannot be altered that as per the method followed by LIC which has come in public domain,the family pensioners of pre-August 1997 retirees,instead of getting a higher pension will suffer reduction in pension.Out of an estimated number of about 22000 pensioners in the pre- August 1997. category who were alive as at 1/8/2003,there were only about less than 16500 surviving pensioners as at Februery 2009 and projecting the same trend as on date there may be hardly about 10000 surviving pre -August 1997 retirees at the most.It is anybody's guess how many of the more than 12000 family pensioners left behind are surviving today.It is a pathetically amusing situation today that all the family pensioners in this category are debtors to LIC if they are alive or have died as debtors to LIC if unfortunately they are no more,according to LIC's calculations. What a ridiculous state of affairs pensioners and family pensioners are placed in.
Now ,notwithstanding the differences among the different group of pensioners which need to be managed and sorted out independently,success in the Supreme Court for all the three sets of petitioners will depend on the deft handling and highlighting the glaring anomalies in a convincing manner before the Bench besides making full use of the inputs on points of law which have been abundantly made available by Mr A S Ramanathan through his writings by suitable briefing of the counsel arguing our cases.
Let us hope that it happens.
C H Mahadevan