Friday, July 15, 2016

M Sreenivasa Murty

In the High Court of Delhi on 12 July 2016 

(For Time-pass till the Order is uploaded)

Whatever has been reported by different Petitioners on the proceedings in the High Court, including by those who are not present in the Court, could vary in content and language. But the outcome on specific issues cannot be subjected to dispute. I would have been tempted to wait for the Order dictated by Justice Sanjiv Khanna, (it was done case by case, touching upon the admissibility or otherwise of each Application that was listed for hearing) but there have been several queries from keen followers of the cases, which need non-controversial clarifications. There are also bits of useful information worth sharing quickly with all, as these will not appear in the Order (which is getting delayed to be uploaded).

Mr R K Viswanathan’s query on the Judge’s remarks against the Affidavit of compliance by LIC, needs elaborate answer. It all started after directions were issued in all the cases, Mr Saurav Agrawal appearing for the Hyderabad Petitioners stood up and made a couple of submissions to the Bench. One – that liberty was granted to us on 1st June to file our application seeking correct payment under 40% as per para 3A, after LIC files its compliance Affidavit as directed by SC. Two: That we are ready now and can do so only if LIC’s compliance Affidavit discloses the essential details from its side. Otherwise it would be wasting court’s time. The Judge was informed that the Affidavit filed by LIC is no compliance at all and it was also not served on all.

To these submissions which received Justice Khanna’s full attention after patient hearing, his response was to ask LIC Counsel why the Affidavit was not served on all and a direction to serve the same immediately.

LIC Counsel offered a strange explanation that they served it on the lead petitioner (Jaipur, whose amended application is seen nowhere). LIC’s mischievous strategy boomeranged, with Bench directing to serve it on all, as there is nothing like lead (only mislead).

When Justice Khanna asked for the Affidavit copy and perused it, his attention was drawn to the last page by Mr Saurav Agrawal which  merely says that Rs 27.06 crores were paid to 15, 969 pensioners and nothing else. Justice Khanna was literally furious and asked LIC Counsel ‘’what compliance is this?

Did you at least say you paid to all eligible Pensioners? How did you arrive at the amount payable? How did you comply with para 3A and SC directive? This is absolutely unacceptable. File a fresh affidavit (in one week) with complete details including the manner in which you calculated and complied with the SC directive. You cannot take the Petitioners for a ride. Put yourself in their position and play fair. If this is how you treat your pensioners, one can imagine how you treat your customers/policyholders. Don’t do it’.

The concluding remark was ‘file fresh Affidavit within one week with full details including the manner of calculations. If the fresh Affidavit when filed is not to our satisfaction, you will be in trouble, tell your corporation.

It was a stern warning. Part of it will find place in the written Order (but under the Jaipur Case, as the affidavit is filed by LIC in that case) There are other highlights like: The Judge wants to conclude this case within the time stipulated by Supreme Court. The message was loud and clear. Adjournment to 4 August is to help everybody to fall in line. The court may come down heavily on future defaulters. The Petitioners were in no position to accost LIC as they themselves were lagging behind so poorly.

Yet another major highlight of the day’s proceedings was that we could get an insight in to the mind of Justice Khanna and know clearly how he would like the parties on both sides to prepare their arguments. He has already studied our cases thoroughly and expects the arguments to be of a higher level. He made specific reference to the financial implications of the revision and the viability of the Fund, to be addressed by both sides. When LIC Counsel jumped to grab the hint to his advantage (before the toughest ever drubbing he received later on 40% compliance Affidavit), by telling that 95% of the profits should go to the Policyholders, Justice Khanna quickly interrupted and said ‘wait, you are not arguing the case now’, I am only suggesting what are the issues to be elaborately addressed’.

I am eager to share with all LIC Pensioners, my strong impression and belief that our case is before the most competent Bench and Justice Khanna’s in-depth knowledge of the facts and the law as it exists now, on Pension Revision, would lead to a landmark & path breaking Judgement. I am absolutely certain that the Delhi HC Order in our case will rewrite the Case Law, where necessary. The reasons behind my impression and belief are pretty sensitive and have to be respectfully kept out of public debate. My purpose in this discussion is to caution ourselves that the task before us is very very tough and there is no scope to be casual or cavalier in doing what we are doing. When I claimed through this Blog, that we from the Hyderabad Association had filed a comprehensive Writ Petition that was finalised and settled after several sittings and after it was duly vetted by the Sr Counsel we engaged, there were sarcastic murmurs. From those who did precious little between 31 March and 3 June, from those who too filed no less comprehensive Petition, which was not on record of the Bench even on 12 July, from those, with all their resources and experience are still in the process of identifying a Sr Counsel (evidently he would have had no role in the making of the ‘comprehensive Petition’ filed but only now being pushed to go on record of the Bench). Another ‘original’ Petitioner (the real original) brags that in spite of the original records still lying at the original spot. ‘I will be on top’ - yes, on top among the bunch of defaulters.

Friends, let all concerned take notice, that on and from 4 August 2016, it
is going to be a different ball game and not a child’s play. To the two ‘original
Petitioners’: Stop the ‘monkey gestures’, (if I may borrow the phrase from one
of our readers), against the Hyderabad Petitioner. Spend your time and
energies on essential things. Try cover your lost ground. Don’t compete with or
find fault with Hyderabad petitioner who is ready and fully equipped to face
the challenge. The Hyderabad Association commits to work not only for its 200
members but to the entire Pensioner community.