After every SC hearing , if there is one person everybody wants
to congratulate, it is the Editor of PC for his innovative and
imaginative coverage of the court room happenings. The
methodology of coverage shows marked improvement from
time to time, and there is evidence all over to proclaim that he
has put his heart and soul in the task. May God be with him in
his future endeavours to make the PC an inseparable part of
each and every pensioners daily life!
THE BOARD RESOLUTION: “As the entire case hinges on the resolution, it is extracted below..” says the SC Order. Honble.Justice Bhandari puts it “ ...if the resolution dt.24-11-2001 is implemented, then, the grievance of petitioners can come to an end....” Justice Dipak Misra opines that the Chairman has no powers to implement the Board Resolution and his powers are limited to implementation of the rule framed, after approval of the Board Resolution by the Government. Right from inception, many of us have been arguing that we are on a sticky wicket by relying too much on the Board Resolution. The SC Order further asserts “On scanning of anatomy of Rule 55 of the 1995 Rules , we are absolutely clear that it does not confer power on the Chairman of the Corporation to issue instructions which can travel beyond the rules” (page 17)
DEARNESS RELIEF: “Appendix IV of 1995 Rules is the principal plinth of quarrel” (Page 2) “Due to different rates of DR to different groups of pensions, the real value of pension which is eroded over a period of time is not being protected , besides causing administrative inconvenience.It has thus become necessary to rationalise the Dearness Relief structure ...” (pages 11 and 12) Mr.Gupta argues” that there are certain employees who have retired after the cut-off date stipulated in para 3A of the Appendix, but they are not given the requisite Dearness Relief based on subsequent pay revisions...” (page20) Again “...employees who have retired after the said ,1-8-1997 but are not extended the benefit of dearness relief despite subsequent pay revisions.. (Page23)” LICs counsel replies, “they have deposited the amount as per para 3A of the Appendix but not given the benefit of PAY REVISIONS..” (page24). I devoted three Posts to PC to drive home the point to Mr. Mahadevan, that while in his calculations he has factored in the revisions subsequent to 1997 , LIC has not and that LIC is going to stick to this gun any day. I quoted all this from the Order just to draw the attention of our readers to the fact, that the arguments were all about the disparity in DR and no signs anywhere to show that the subject of UPGRADATION was ever brought into focus. One gets the feeling that the arguments were confined to only one of the two writs!!
The Order thunders, “...on a perusal of section 48, it is clear as crystal that conferment of benefit, either pension or anything ancillary thereto has to be conferred by the rules and the rules as prescribed under section 48...” (page18) Here, I would like to draw the attention of the readers as to the remarks made by Justice Misra in one of the previous hearings. He said ”...if the Resolution was not statutory and if it required Govt. approval to become effective, that is how it is...” Justice Misra adds,”...It is well settled in law that he who assails the constitutional validity of a statutory provision or a rule, has to specially assert the grounds of such challenge. THE PLEADINGS ARE NOT ADEQUATE...” (page 25). This forms the core of the judgment. The single Bench,Jaipur, the Division Bench,Jaipur both didn’t address this substantive point of law (section 21 included) and in as much as all the other HCs relied on the Jaipur HC SB decision, the Judge had set aside their decisions too.
ARTICLE 14 AND OTHER MATTERS
In fact, but for Mr. Sridharan’s counsel Mr.Panchu the above provision in the constitution might not have come to light during the discussions. No doubt, Shri.Gupta seems to have joined issue with him later on. Points such as blatant discrimination, inequity and pathetic conditions of the pensioners as a result of the injustice perpetrated by LIC, which are the real issues , have taken a back seat.
The Honble Judge has exonerated himself on the plea “ However,we may clarify that we have not expressed any opinion on the merits of the case, except that the resolution could not become operative unless it was conferred the status of of a RULE as provided under section 48 of the Act..” (page 23) It is but natural for us to think why a Supreme Court Judge who knew the inside out of our case, winced from taking a final call on the issue.. To my mind, the following might have weighed with the Judge.!) Perhaps he did’nt want to emphasise the invincibility of Sec 48 and rule that we have no case 2) As a Supreme Court Judge, he was burdened with huge number of cases, and, therefore, he thought it fit to transfer the responsibility of having a re-look at both the issues to Delhi High Court. It is learnt that constitution of a 5 member judge Bench is a rare happening these days and two judge benches are examining cases pertaining to constitutional matters. All this due to paucity of sufficient number of judges in the Supreme Court.
In my next Post “ THE WINNING CAPTAIN AND THE WAY FORWARD’'” I shall be coming out with certain hard facts relating to our case and the role played by our three leaders. In the meantime, let us accept the present and keep alive our hopes of a possible victory in the end.