"As I reported to you last night, I had a chance meeting with Mr Saurav Agrawal, our lead counsel yesterday, in the thick of his flying visit to the city. Although he stayed just for three hours and flew back to Delhi in the afternoon, he came out of his high-profile conference, to talk to me briefly. We quickly reviewed the status of the hearing in our cases in the light of the disturbing DHC Orders of 8 Dec 2016.
Saurav's frank assessment of the state of things, left a chill in my spine. To put it bluntly, we the Pensioners are losing control on the management of our cases for all wrong reasons. It looks as if we are once again at cross roads in our trek to reach the ever eluding destination. The prospects of yet another extension of time is looming large whether anybody is going to ask for it or not. Hon'ble Supreme Court first directed that our cases shall be decided in five months flat. As most of the Petitioners were absolutely lax in their preparation with zero accountability even to their own members, let alone the community of Pensioners, precious little happened within the prescribed time limit and it was a cakewalk for LIC & Government on 31 Aug to secure extension by another five months. No lessons were learnt since then and history is threatening to repeat itself as the first extension is going to come to an end shortly.
If we see the pattern of the 8 Dec Orders in all the cases, we can't miss the fact that Justice Khanna attributed a desire to seek extension of time from the Supreme Court, to the Counsel of ALL the Petitioners except Hyderabad & one of the two Jaipur matters. Here again, the reason is obvious. As it was on record (incorrectly in our case though), that there was no Counsel present in those two matters, no mention could have been made by them any way as others were reported to have done.
It was also a ground reality on Dec 8, that no counsel had expressly mentioned that he would seek extension of time. The only inference that could now be made is that Justice Khanna felt that it is not possible to decide the matter before 31 Jan 2017, in view of what he has noticed on 8 Dec in terms of the readiness to argue by some of the Counsel who stood before him. He must have thought that the only saving grace is that the Petitioners's Counsel seek extension from the Supreme Court and make things easy for the Court to play its part.
Now the real issue before us: Ironically LIC & UOI are watching (and enjoying?) the fun. The pain of further extension doesn't bother them nor the Court. It does not also pain some Petitioners' Counsel even, as much as it hurts us. There is yet another angle. If a request for one more extension were to be made (god forbid) by anybody, two things are certain to happen before the Supreme Court. One, the Petitioner/s concerned would receive a drubbing from Justice Misra for their indifference to their own cause. We lose Court's sympathy. Second, the extension shall not be for a few weeks or a couple of months - court would be annoyed with repeated requests for piecemeal extensions and throw us out for another six months. This is not a mere apprehension but a distinct possibility.
What about additional costs? Are we (all) not bleeding already? With correct interim payment cruelly denied by LIC and the chances of correction miserably mishandled (by whoever it may be), where are the further donations to come from? How to keep the pot boiling? And for how long?
By any logic, further extension of time is SUICIDAL. I have requested Mr Saurav Agrawal to resist it in whatever ever way he can. He agreed in appreciation of my agony. He did mention of course, that we are a divided house and are paying the price.
I am putting all these thoughts in black & white with a request that we think of all possible avenues open to us to knock at all the doors we can reach. Action needed is simple. The Authorized representatives of each of the Petitioners, (you know I don't like the designation 'case managers'), should be approached through whom they listen to - including the Lord almighty, if they listen to none, make them strictly instruct their respective Counsel, make them stand up on 4 Jan 2017 and they emphatically tell the Court We don't want any extension
WE ARE READY TO ARGUE OUR CASE, PLEASE FIX A PUCCA SCHEDULE AND WE COMMIT TO FALL IN LINE AND COOPERATE WITH THE COURT. AND CONVINCE THE JUDGE WE MEAN IT. THERE IS NO OTHER WAY AND IF WE FAIL WE ARE DOOMED.
I started my personal efforts in right earnest. Let us pull all the strings at our command and not give up.
PS: You would have read Mr MV Venugoplan's latest Post 'the Specter of Dec 8 hearing'. He has more than made up for the delay in writing. As usual, he excelled in his analysis of the state of things and shared quite a few of his valuable thoughts with all. There were a couple factual inaccuracies in his narrative and inputs. I am going to write to him personally under copy to you, with a request to do what is within his capacity to help things take shape on 4 Jan as I explained above.
I was traveling by road most of today and I used the opportunity to reach you through this. Will call you tomorrow to share further thoughts.
Sreenivasa Murty M