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Withholding employee’s retirement benefits is arbitrary, illegal, sin: CAT to Govt

12:34 AM May 06, 2024 IST | D A RASHID
withholding employee’s retirement benefits is arbitrary  illegal  sin  cat to govt
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Srinagar, May 5: The Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) in Srinagar has observed as “arbitrary, illegal, and sin” the withholding of retirement benefits of employees for prolonged periods, saying it was out of sync with the constitution.

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“Withholding of retirement benefits of retired employees for years together is not only illegal and arbitrary but a sin, if not an offence,” a bench of M S Latif said in a judgment passed in response to a plea by 64-year-old Kaka Jee Koul, who superannuated on March 31, 2020, as a Sub Inspector in the Home Department.

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The tribunal held that depriving an employee of his retirement benefits for a prolonged period was against the “concept of social and economic justice which is one of the founding pillars of our constitution”.

“In our system, the constitution is supreme but the real power vests in the people of India as the constitution has been enacted for the people by the people, and is of the people,” the CAT said.

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It said that a public functionary cannot as such be permitted to act in a way that the law would not countenance causing harassment to a common man in particular when the person subjected to harassment had been their employee.

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The tribunal said this while relying on the observation of Lord Hailsham in Cassell and Company Limited versus Broome (1972 AC 1027) and of Lord Delvin in Rookes versus Barnard and others (1964 AC 1129) as also the Apex Court in the Lucknow Development Authority versus M K Gupta JT 1993(6) SC 307.

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It also cited a Supreme Court’s judgment titled Mukti Nath Rai versus State of Uttar Pradesh (1992 (2) SCC 644), wherein the apex held that “in these hard days it is essential that payment of pension should begin promptly”.

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The tribunal made these observations while deciding the plea by Koul who through his counsel, Advocate S N Ratanpuri had approached it seeking intervention for direction to the Home Department to grant him the due promotion to the post of Inspector and release of retirement benefits in his favour.

The case of Koul was that he was serving as a Sub-Inspector in the Home Department and superannuated on March 31, 2020.

A Departmental Promotion Committee was convened wherein his case was considered for promotion while he was in service.

However, given the pendency of a criminal case against him, the sealed cover procedure was adopted by the department.

Koul submitted that after superannuation he was acquitted in the criminal case registered by the Crime Branch against him for offences under Sections 420, 468, 459, 471, and 120-B of the Ranbir Penal Code (RPC).

He submitted that after the judgment of acquittal was pronounced by the competent authority (Sub-Judge and Judicial Magistrate, Baramulla,) he immediately moved a representation before the authorities for the release of his pensionary benefits which were due to him as also his consequential benefits.

Koul said that the representation so filed was received by the respondents but no decision was taken on it.

He said that given the non-disposal of the earlier representation, he was compelled to file another representation dated March 17, 2024.

The short case of Koul was that he otherwise deserved to be promoted as Inspector with all consequential benefits but for the non-consideration of the representation was compelled to knock on the doors of the court through his plea.

While disposing of the case, the tribunal directed the respondents (authorities) to decide following his entitlement and on its merits within four weeks of the representation Koul reportedly filed before them.

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