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Monday, April 18, 2016

MV VENUGOPALAN


Dear Editor,  

   I thought I would share with you  the contents of a telephonic  talk I had   with a long time friend of mine, who was also a former LIC employee. He and his son are practising as advocates in the Supreme Court. While discussing our ongoing case in the Supreme Court, he told me very casually that  the SC  judges are not that independent or neutral as the general public perceive them to be , not to get influenced by the opinions of those in power in the Govt. We are aware as to how the CBI and the law enforcement machinery, in general, show tendency to lean towards the Govt.in power.
 
   As per the 31st March Order of the S.C the Honble.Judge has been kind enough to hike the DR arrears from 20% to 40%  for the ‘septuagenarians’,as an interim measure, obviously on sympathetic grounds. Does it mean that post- 1997 pensioner-septuagenarians, who bank upon arrears due to upgraded pension, don’t deserve any sympathy? In the May Interim Order for release of 20% arrears of DR by the Judge , the beneficiaries were only pre-1997 pensioners.  While all of us are extremely happy that at least a section of the more deserving pensioners received some money in their hands, my objective is to drive home the point that as far as SC is concerned, only the DR issue was in their view, not Up-gradation for which we have filed a writ too. Link it up with the view held by our Finance Ministry, things are bound to emerge clearer. You will definitely find a pattern emerging.

 
  Again, can any law enacted be violative and gnaw at the roots of a constitutional provision? In todays THE HINDU , under the caption “Pranab warns against judicial activism”,The President termed the Indian Constitution a “Magna Carta of socio-economic transformation”,a living document and not a relic cast in stone. If that be so, in our case , when there is incontrovertible proof to show that negative applicability of Sec 48 or for that matter any other provisions in the Pension Rules or LIC Act 1956 , will cut at the roots of Article 14 and 16,should those provisions be allowed to create roadblocks in our pursuit for justice. DSNakras judgment is considered to be the last word as for as discrimination in DR and periodic revision of pension is concerned by most of the HC and SC judges in matters such as ours. In a recent Civi Appeal No.1123of 2015, SC judgment, a couple of salient features go as given hereunder:

1)The Bench has authoritatively ruled that a pension is a right and the payment of it doe’nt depend upon the discretion of the Govt.

2)The judgment has recognised that THE REVISION OF PAY SCALES AND REVISION OF PENSION ARE INSEPERABLE

3)UP GRADATION OF PENSION IS ALSO A RIGHT AND NOT A BOUNTY
The Bench has also pronounced that in arriving at the above decision , Nakras’ judgment was the guiding light.

I recalled all the above just to impress that the cases have been transferred to The Delhi High Court despite our bringing all the nuances contained in the said iconic provisions and solid ,decided cases. We are led to surmise that , there is more to it than what meets the eyes.

Though the SC judgment and direction is to seek a purely legalistic solution, it does’nt seem , as matters stand now, that the solution lies only in digging deep into legal principles,new law points etc. When the time comes, I think , we can do it as we have very resourceful and energetic persons to do that. This is the time for us to have our PRIORITIES RIGHT. The SC directive is “ The HC of Delhi will decide the constitutional validity of para 3A, of the Appendix to the Rules”. Let us find out whether we have to begin all over again, as the three of them started with their respective HCs or the SC wants Delhi HC to examine only the above aspect of law. How the three Case Managers intend to approach the need for amendments to the writs , if any, or put it in a nutshell, how the legal battle is going to enter the portals of the Delhi HC. Instead of hair-splitting arguments over sections 36,37 ,48 etc, the priority knocking at our doors are the above plus organisational matters, fund raising etc. Misplaced or mixed priorities will only result in waste of time, particularly when we are running short of time and we have multiple timelines to meet. The biggest problem awaiting us is whether it will all be over by 31st of August or history gets repeated.
Before concluding, let me share a bit of happy news with you, which appeared in THE BUSINESS LINE today (page 9). The news is described as “finally light at the end of the tunnel”. The United Federation of Bank Unions had a meeting with the IBA and the IBA has agreed to consider revision of pension for the Bank employees who retired after 1986. It was also mentioned that the IBA has consented to consider 100% DR neutralisation for those who retired prior to 2002. They are waiting for Mr.Arun Jaitely to return from his foreign visit to take it up with him and the Finance Ministry. This,undoubtedly is a great news for us. Let us Pray and Hope that it materialises ,so that we can stop making trips to The Delhi High Court!!
With Greetings,
 
  M.V.VENUGOPALAN