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Sunday, March 27, 2016

MV VENUGOPALAN



Dear Editor,

The main objective of our legal fight is to gain some monetary benefits for our pensioners. It was not without any basis or rhyme or reason.In the evening of our lives we wanted to lead a dignified, decent and respectful life. We wanted to be treated on equal footing with our friends who retired at different points of time after us. In other words, we wanted to end the blatant discrimination being perpetrated and practised by LIC /GOI between two sets of pensioners; those who retired earlier and those who retired subsequently, but at different intervals. Our fight is for justice and equality for all before law. It is for parity in DR and upgraded pension, as and when the revision of pay scales is taken up for the in- service employees. Let us now examine the meandering path we have travelled in our journey so far and the points for our Case Managers to dwell deeply’

THE BOARD RESOLUTION

We are aware that this, in effect, provided the platform for us to launch our legal struggle. While the Resolution was categorical about removal of disparity between pre-1997 and post-1997 pensioners, was it equally categorical and firm about up-gradation of pension? It is argued that every time the revision takes place for the in-service employees, revise the basic pension by merging the DR (as for in-service employees) with the existing pension, with weightage of 11.25%, as on 1-8-1997,1-8-2002,1-8-2007 and 1-8-2012. The logic being , having done it on 1-8-1997, LIC is not justified in giving it a go-by in the subsequent revisions. The argument, on the face of it appears to be convincing. However, our captains should probe how much water it holds, legally.

THE JAIPUR H.C. JUDGMENT

Justice Bhandaris judgment in 2010 lay emphasis , mainly on three points. They are:

1)He ruled that for implementing the Board Resolution LIC need not go to the GOI for approval .He added “ if the Resolution dt.24-11-2001is implemented the grievance of the petitioners can come to an end”. In other words, he is emphatic that the LIC Board enjoys the autonomy in taking such decisions affecting the employees and it need not rush to the Govt in matters of regular administrative importance. Our Case Managers would do well to ascertain from LIC as to what type of resolutions have been referred to the Govt. in the past for approval invoking Sec.48 of the Insurance Act.This is all the more important since Justice.Bhandari has re;ied entirely on the Board Resolution.

2) While Justice Bhandari mentioned that “ The respondent Corporation cannot provide different criteria for grant of Dearness Allowance to the existing pensioners based on cut off date i.e. 31-7-1997” nowhere in the judgment he is talking about the up gradation in such clear terms. No doubt, he was eloquent when it came to the glaring disparity in the pensions drawn by the two categories of pensioners, the fact that a retiree in the lower cadre drawing much more pension than an employee who retired in a much higher cadre etc. This is one aspect which should engage the attention of the Case Managers and our counsel.

3) He has quoted the rationale and logic behind D.S Nakaras judgment (constitutional Bench) extensively , thus underpinning the gaping discrimination prevalent .He adds “In the case of pensioners it is necessary to revise the pension periodically as the continuous fall in the rupee value and the rise in prices of essential commodities necessitates an adjustment of the pension amount”. This is the crux of the issue for which we are fighting the legal battle. The Chairman of the 7th Pay Commission has also endorsed this view, unconditionally.

SECTION 48

In view of the existence of Article 14 of the Constitution, Section 48 becomes anti-constitutional. It is , generally agreed in the legal circles that no law can be enacted which runs counter to a constitutional provision. Therefore, in case Sec 48 is invoked we have all the reason to raise a hue and cry. Again, our leaders should find out in how many cases Govt. has invoked Sec.48 in the past and disapproved a Board Resolution referred to the Govt.for approval. Moreover, in this case, the Govt.has taken an unduly long time to convey their decision. Does not silence mean acquiescence? Again, the Govt.has created discrimination within discrimination by making the up-gradation applicable to the Chairmen and MDs by calling them their appointees. It is evident from all these, that Sec 48 is bad in law and deserves to be struck down.

OUR PENSION RULES

Our Pension Rules are silent about periodical up-gradation. That is exactly the reason it provides for adopting CG Employees Pension Rules 72, wherever our Pension Rules are not clear about it. The fact remains that our Pension Rules have been framed after the CG Employees Rules and hence this cannot be quoted by LIC for denying us up-gradation.

By conceding our demand, the Govt. will not be making a major departure from its stand on such issues because the Civil Servants, Central Govt Employees, a number of State Govt.Employees and now the Defence Employees are all enjoying the benefits of OROP already.

OTHER MATTERS

Make impleadment a reality as quickly as possible. The leaders may also check whether any verdict or Order passed by either the H.C or the S.C are automatically applicable to all the stakeholders. If so, why then the ‘IN REM’ decision of Delhi H.C was not made applicable to all the pensioners.

The above are certain points which I had gathered from the columns of the PC which I have tried to put them in one corner. I have borrowed in the process ideas and opinions from regular contributors to the PC like MESSRS. M.S.Murty, C.H. Mahadevan, A.S. Ramanathan, S.N (1992), K.M.L Asthana, G.N.Sridharan and others. Most of them being legal luminaries, I trust, they will not proceed against me for ‘plagiarism’!!. May I request our Case Managers to give the above write-up a quick run-through before finding their way to the Supreme Court?

With Greetings,
M.V.VENUGOPALAN