Monday, September 25, 2017
Cir No : 20/2017 Date : 15th September 2017
RE: AIIPA CENTRAL COMMITTEE –THE PATH AHEAD (part I)
The Central Committee of All India Insurance Pensioners’ Association (AIIPA), had its session with Com.M.L.Setiya, President, AIIPA, taking the Chair on September 13 and September 14, 2017 in the city of Hyderabad. It felt concerned that the social environs were not conducive for free expression of opinion, that more and more burdens were being heaped on common people in the name of Reforms, that efforts to undermine and dismantle public sector are afoot and the scenario on the job front was bleak with loss of more and more jobs and creation of fewer and fewer job opportunities and workers and their rights being attacked. The Committee also noted that though these were tough times, there was also silver lining in that, more and more people were engaged in fight against the divisive and anti-people economic policies of the Central Government and various State Governments and against shrinking space for dissent. It was the firm view of the Committee that, in the given situation, there was need for broad based struggles on all issues affecting the ‘Aam Admi’.
A Working report on the activities of the AIIPA, since the last meeting of the Central Committee held in March, 2017, was placed for debate in the meeting. Com.T.K. Chakraborty, General Secretary, introducing the report, dwelt at length the political and economic scenario prevailing in the country. He also said that ruling classes were not allowing expression of contrary views and any dissent is sought to be violently put down. Attempts were on to divide the people on religious basis. The life and living of common people was under attack and the government is least bothered about the plight of the people and more and more attacks were on the working people and in the name of reforms public sector is dismantled. Rights of the workers were under continuous attack. Attempts were on to attack the social fabric of the country. He also said while these are the negative signs, there are also positive happenings, which the Central Committee should take note of. Resistance is also building up and the people are also opposing the narrow ideological thrust and the workers are uniting to repulse the attacks on them by organising nationwide movements against these anti-working class measures. Insurance pensioners, as conscious section of the people should associate and take active part in these resistance movements, launched to challenge anti-people, anti-working class policies.
The Committee heard the narrative, giving a true and graphic picture of the happenings in the legal front. Com.K.Natarajan, Vice-President, AIIPA, explained the background, in which AIIPA had launched its legal actions. He explained that till such time the issue was implementation of LIC Board Resolution sans a Government Notification, AIIPA had decided not to join the fray, as the Organisation held a firm view on this question. In order to protect the interest of Pensioners in receipt of Interim Relief and to further the interest of all Pensioners,
through Updation of Pension, after the Hon’ble Supreme Court vindicated its stand, AIIPA entered the legal arena with its Writ Petition in Hon’ble Delhi High Court. Effective arguments were placed to drive home our viewpoints and observations on improvement in Pension, as part of ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’(CSR), with cost for full neutralisation not being a material factor, that emanated from the Hon’ble Bench, were truthfully reported to the members. However, when the Hon’ble Court delivered its judgement, our prayers were not fully accepted, though the Bench agreed that there was discrimination between pre and post-August 1997 pensioners.
During the course of arguments, various financial aspects were focussed by other petitioners, which AIIPA had deliberately decided to avoid, resulting in Actuaries from LIC being asked to depose twice. Again, projection of figures to highlight alleged discrimination between earlier and later retirees, had only resulted, in the Court rejecting their argument on violation of (Article 21) on right to life.
Deciding to challenge the verdict of Delhi High Court, AIIPA had filed an SLP stating that LIC, being wholly owned by the Government, the Central Government cannot discriminate in the matter of updation of pension vis-a-vis Central Government pensioners especially because both LIC (Employees) Pension Rules and C.C.S. Pension Rules do not provide for updation of pension and pension updation for Central Government pensioners had been implemented only through Government Orders. AIIPA had also, in its Affidavit, stated that if Central Government Pension was a statutory liability unlike the funded LIC Pension, increase in liability through pension updation for central govt. pensioners cannot suddenly come from the year 1996. The Affidavit also states that the stand of LIC against the demand is not legally tenable, as earlier LIC Board Resolution (November, 2001)for Uniform Rate of Dearness Relief was binding and it had not been nullified by another LIC Board Resolution.
Though directed by the Hon’ble Supreme Court to adjudicate on the Constitutional validity of Rule 3(A), this issue had not been addressed and having held there had been discrimination, the Hon’ble Bench cannot legislate on Dearness Relief Rates, that is purely under the domain of the Central Government under Section (48) of LIC Act.Rule 3(A) had sought to divide the homogeneous class of pensioners into groups and therefore was violative of Article 14 of the Constitution. He said that as LIC was a “State” under Article (12) of the Constitution, it should not be allowed to escape from its statutory obligations towards its pensioners.
Dispelling the notions spread by certain section, he said that only a week’s adjournment was sought for and not twelve weeks and when occasion came to speed up with two other SLPs listed for August 28, 2017, AIIPA was quick to mention the matter before the Hon’ble Chief Justice Court and to get its SLP tagged for Hearing on 28th August 2017..
Assuring the members that interest of GIC Pensioners was very much in the agenda of the Organisation and LIC case was being fought as ‘cause of action’ has arisen.
He informed the House that Notice returnable in four weeks has been issued and the case will come up on October 13, 2017. Hopefully on that day, SLP may be admitted and converted into Civil Appeal and Hearing will commence later. The members fully appreciated the implications of our SLP.
The Central Committee, after deliberating on the issues and after hearing the Leaders, came to certain conclusions and decisions and our next circular will highlight the speeches and decisions.