Saturday, February 06, 2016

M Sreenivasa Murty

(Part 3)

I am glad that my observation, towards the end of Part-2 of my last Post in PC ‘To me it is all OMINOUS’ generated some concerns and responses. I am asked by friends to ‘clear the air’, which I will attempt in this concluding part on the topic. As committed earlier, I also wish to unfold in this Part, the Hyderabad Plan of action which in our view could effectively tackle the issues with high stakes for all of us.

Mr A S Ramanathan, while attempting just to make light of my comment and I quote: ‘there is nothing ominous’ appears for once, to have compromised his known erudition on the facts and law in our case. If I highlight in the following lines, the major flaw in his approach, I do not mean to discount his command on the subject. I urge him and other well-informed contributors to the PC (not excluding SN & Sri C H Mahadevan), to take a holistic view of the gigantic task before us, because the outcome of the long drawn litigation before the Supreme Court is going to be the ‘last word’ on the aspirations of approximately 49,000 Pensioners and Family Pensioners of LIC. 

The OMINOUSNESS referred to in my last Post, cannot be wished away by telling ourselves and others listening to us, that ‘all is well, don’t worry’. I want to be down to earth practical and even blunt, in what I am going to say today, to make myself clear. 

In my view, the remarks and observations of the SC Bench made during the arguments on 29 January and earlier, are a challenge & an opportunity. I will frame a few questions, just to make my point clear and simple, if anybody is willing to take them and give direct answers. If I am repeating myself now, I cannot help.

Q1. Is the (Constitutional) validity of Section 48 of LIC Act, under challenge before the Supreme Court in our matters? If anybody wants to say ‘yes’, he has to explain ‘how’ and ‘where’. I have no doubt that, IT IS NOT.

Q2. When the validity or otherwise, of the Section is not an issue for decision before the Bench, where is the question of it (Sec 48) being upheld or struck down? 

Q3. Is it not a simple conclusion that a Section remains valid unless struck down? 

Q4. If on account of the above logic, we have to accept the (valid) existence of the Section, should we or should we not explore and test alternative routes to escape the rigors of the particular piece of the Statute on which LIC & the Government are heavily banking? 

Q5. If (at all) we accept (or obliged to accept) the validity of the Section, are we safe in banking on the logic of its (in) applicability to the Board Resolution dated 24.11.2001? (No public purpose is involved etc.,) I think that path is equally slippery because, the Resolution itself refers to the Government approval being a pre-requisite to implement the proposal as approved by the Board. 

My reference to the Ominousness, in the light of the remarks of the Bench sprouts from another angle also. I think I can explain that angle too more clearly through a few questions, as below:

Q1. On the validity of Section 48 and/or its applicability to the Board Resolution dated 24.11.2001, are the views of the Respondents in all the three CAs identical? 

Q2. If on the forceful persuasion of Mr A S Ramanathan or otherwise, Jaipur challenges the validity of Sec 48 or questions its applicability to the Board Resolution, are we sure the stand of Delhi going to be the same? 

Q3. What happens if Delhi were to say (it is going to) ‘we have no quarrel with Sec 48’ - let LIC implement the Resolution after obtaining Government approval? Is such a thing possible or even if it is, Mr A S Ramanathan, doesn’t find anything ominous?

We have a good case and we should win hands down. Not many can exceed my level of confidence about it. I have been describing it as ‘writing on the wall’. But our case does not remain or emerge strong by telling ourselves so, a hundred times through Chronicle or otherwise. With glaring contradictions in approach and a lack of consensus on strategy (speaking in different voices before the Bench) the situation is indeed ominous. 

By his own admission ASR is not in any panel on strategies planned. I wish he is. Otherwise how to ensure that the huge volume of ammunition he piled up over the years using all his knowledge and experience, is put to use when it is most critical to do so? I hope at least some of the people fighting the case and luckily known to him, would pay heed to his counsel. More importantly, in order to play some constructive and beneficial role, one should be in the front line while briefing the Counsel. If Mr AS Ramanathan, is not or does not want to be in that position, I am afraid, all his inputs however valid and valuable they may be, will not go to the rescue of the community of Pensioners. These write ups, if not adopted and used by those managing the cases and those who are arguing, could at best help saying ‘I told you so’ when it is too late. 

Our situation is indeed ominous. Unless, even now, people like Mr ASR step forward, take the lead, resolve differences and help consensus of approach. 

(Our PC Cartoonist may like to correct his perspective; Or is this how he is making amends due to the chastising by Mr Ishwar Dayal?) 

It is in this background, Hyderabad Association is striving not to let things go out of hand. Ironically, although the ultimate objective of Jaipur, Chandigarh and Hyderabad is identical, the strategies of Jaipur and the rest appear different. 

Ironically again, after all the havoc perpetrated in the matter of interim payment, GNS (along with a trusted colleague) reportedly found time to descend on Hyderabad today, possibly to muster some sympathisers and to reclaim Federation’s lost presence here. A desperate search for some solace from the impossible heat generated against him by the Hyderabad Association. 

What a sense of priority, Dear General Secretary?