इलाहाबाद : इलाहाबाद हाईकोर्ट ने सरकारी कर्मचारियों की सेवानिवृत्ति के बाद पेंशन ग्रेच्युटी आदि के भुगतान में देरी पर सख्त रुख अपनाया है। कहा है कि यदि कोई वैधानिक अड़चन न हो तो सेवानिवृत्ति तारीख की शाम तक परिलाभों का भुगतान कर दिया जाए।
यह आदेश न्यायमूर्ति पीकेएस बघेल ने झांसी के योगेन्द्र सिंह व दो अन्य की याचिका पर दिया है। कोर्ट ने कहा कि यदि भुगतान में देरी होती है तो इस अवधि का ब्याज भी दिया जाए। ब्याज का भुगतान राज्य सरकार करेगी तथा वह संबंधित लापरवाह कर्मी से इसकी वसूली कर सकती है। यदि लापरवाह कर्मचारी सेवानिवृत्त हो गया हो तो उसको मिलने वाले परिलाभों से वसूली की जा सकती है। ऐसे कर्मचारी के खिलाफ कदाचार की कार्यवाही की जाय। कोर्ट ने समाज कल्याण विभाग को निर्देश दिया है कि वह याची को 9 फीसद ब्याज के साथ समस्त परिलाभों का भुगतान एक माह में करें। साथ ही जीपीएफ का भी भुगतान किया जाय।
मालूम हो कि याची के पिता किशन चौधरी समाज कल्याण विभाग झांसी में सहायक विकास अधिकारी पद पर तैनात थे। सेवाकाल में ही पांच अक्टूबर 11 को उनकी मृत्यु हो गयी। याचीगण ने सेवानिवृत्ति व मृत्यु से मिलने वाले परिलाभों के भुगतान की मांग की। पिता की 26 साल की सेवा के बाद मौत हुई थी। पारिवारिक पेंशन का भी भुगतान नहीं किया गया। तीन साल बाद ग्रेच्युटी दी गयी किंतु ब्याज नहीं दिया गया। कोर्ट ने कहा कि नियमावली के अनुसार कर्मचारी के सेवानिवृत्त होने के छह माह पहले औपचारिकताएं पूरी कर ली जाय ताकि सेवानिवृत्ति के बाद तत्काल भुगतान किया जाय।
HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT ALLAHABAD
Court No. - 4
Case :- WRIT - A No. - 23639 of 2016
Petitioner :- Yogendra Singh And 2 Others
Respondent :- State Of U.P. And 5 Others
Counsel for Petitioner :- Rajendra Prasad Tiwari,Smt Alpana Tiwari,Vinay Kumar Tiwari
Counsel for Respondent :- C.S.C.
Hon'ble Pradeep Kumar Singh Baghel,J.
1. The petitioners have instituted this writ proceeding for a direction upon the concerned respondent for payment of 9% interest on delayed payment of amount of Gratuity, Family Pension, and Leave Encashment and also for payment of amount of G.P.F.
2. The petitioners claim that they are son and daughters of one Late Sri Krishan Chaudhary, who was Assistant Development Officer in the Department of the Social Welfare. Their father unfortunately died on 05.10.2011 while in harness.
3. A brief reference to the factual aspects would suffice.
4. Late Krishan Chaudhary was an employee of the Social Welfare Department. While he was serving on the post of Assistant Development Officer (Social Welfare) at Block Moth, District Jhansi, he unfortunately died on 05.10.2011. He had made all the petitioners as his nominee for receiving his retiral benefits. A copy of the nomination is on the record. The petitioners have made a representation dated 17.10.2011 before the respondent no. 6 with the requisite documents for the payment of post retiral-cum-death benefits of his father. The petitioners have submitted another representation dated 24.10.2011 for giving the benefit of Assured Career Progression as their father had completed more than 26 years of service. Both the representations are on record. In the representations, it is stated that due to non-fixation of salary of his father in terms of the various Government Orders issued from time to time in respect of sanction of the Assured Career Progression, the family pension, leave encashment and other benefits are adversely affected. They have also moved an application under the provisions of the Right to Information Act, 2005 seeking reasons regarding non-fixation of family pension and other post retiral benefits.
5. Pursuant to the said application under the RTI, the Director, Social Welfare, U.P., the respondent no.2, sent a communication dated 14.11.2014 to the Deputy Director, Social Welfare, Divisional Office, Jhansi, respondent no.4, and Senior Assistant at Headquarter for the payment of retiral benefits of the petitioners' father by end of November, 2014. He has also directed that on 01.12.2014, the concerned District Social Welfare Officer and the concerned officers of the Directorate shall be present in his office along with records. A further direction was issued to the Deputy Director to fix the responsibility of the concerned official for delay and negligence.
6. It is stated that the petitioners have also submitted a fresh representation dated 30.03.2015 for sanction of benefit of Assured Career Progression to their father. It is stated that the petitioners further submitted a representation dated 15.05.2015, which has been received in the office of the District Social Welfare Officer on 20.05.2015, and which bears the endorsement of receiving of the concerned officer. Similar representation was also made to the Accountant General, New Delhi under the registered cover.
7. From the record, it appears that the gratuity and pension was paid to the petitioners on 25.06.2015 after a lapse of three years eight months. The petitioners made a fresh representation on 04.12.2015 for the interest on the delayed payment at the rate of 9%.
8. The Office of the Accountant General, Allahabad on 08.09.2015 sent a communication to the District Social Welfare Officer, Jhansi reminding him to send the pass book of Late Krishan Chaudhary, as the certified Photo copy of the pass book was not sent by him to the office of the Accountant General in spite of the earlier communication dated 06.02.2015. Thus, a reminder was sent.
9. The Director, Social Welfare on 28.05.2015 granted the third Assured Career Progression to eight officials along with the father of the petitioner, who have completed 26 years satisfactory service in terms of the Government Order dated 05.11.2014. The father of the petitioners was granted the next Pay Band of Rs.15600-39100 plus grade pay of Rs.5400/- on 30.04.2010.
10. On 25.06.2015, the Additional Director (Treasury and Pension), Jhansi sent a communication to the Treasury Officer, Jhansi, by which the gratuity amount of Rs.10,00,000/- was sanctioned and the Treasury Officer, Jhansi was directed to make payment of the said amount to the petitioners.
11. The grievance of the petitioners is that due to the delay in the payment of the post retiral benefits, the petitioners had to live in indigent circumstances as they have no other source of livelihood and they were totally dependent on the salary of their father, now after his untimely death, on his retiral benefits.
12. I have heard learned counsel for the parties and perused the record. Parties are not in conflict on the facts, therefore, with their consent the matter is taken on board for final disposal in terms of the Rules of the Court.
13. It is a common ground that the petitioners are nominee of Late Krishan Chaudhary, who died on 05.10.2011 while in harness. They have submitted their succession certificate and other relevant documents without any loss of time.
14. From the record, it emerges that the petitioners have moved several representations and reminders repeatedly. On their representations, the Director, Social Welfare had passed an order for immediate payment of post retiral benefits of their late father and also issued a direction to the concerned officials on 14.11.2014 that in any case by end of November, 2014, his post retiral benefits be paid. He had also issued a direction to the District Social Welfare Officer that he shall be present on 01.12.2014 in his office along with the record to explain the reasons relating to those payments which have not been paid by the said date. He has also directed the Deputy Director, Social Welfare to fix the responsibility of the concerned official for delay. It appears that the said direction of the Director had no effect on his subordinate officials as in spite of the said strongly worded order, the payment was made only on 25.06.2015 without any interest on delayed payment. The grievance of the petitioners is that they are entitled for the interest at the rate of 9% on the delayed payment.
15. It is worthwhile to mention that the Director, Social Welfare has sanctioned the third benefit of Assured Career Progression to the petitioners' father in the year 2015 i.e. on 25.06.2015 after more than four years of the death of the employee. Under the Scheme of Assured Progression Scheme it is obligatory on the part of respondents to grant A.C.P. in terms of various Government Orders within the reasonable time. The main object of the Scheme is to avoid stagnation in the career of the employees, where there is no prospect of the promotion. The culpable delay in sanctioning the grant defeats the very purpose of the scheme.
16. From the perusal of the Assured Career Progression Scheme, it is evident that it does not require any adjudication of the scheme. The only thing which is required to be ascertained before grant of the said benefit is about the period of satisfactory service rendered by the employee.
17. The Government Orders issued from time to time clearly indicate that a duty is cast upon the competent offical to sanction the Assured Career Progression on its own.
18. The record also indicates that the GPF pass book of Late Krishan Chaudhary has not been properly maintained by the department and in spite of the communication from the office of the Accountant General, copy of the pass book of Late Krishan Chaudhary was not promptly sent, as noted above. A copy of the communication reminding the authority concerned to send the pass book is on record.
19. From the aforesaid facts, the delay and caused in making the delay is self-evident and need no elaboration. In any view of the matter, the petitioners have received the post retiral-cum-death benefits except GPF, after lapse of more than three years.
20. For convenience ,it is apt to refer statutory provisions / rules before considering the issue at hand. The State Government, in exercise of the power conferred by the proviso to Article 309 of the Constitution, has made the U.P. Pension Cases (Submission, Disposal and Avoidance of Delay) Rules, 1995 (In short the Rules 1995), in which Rule-2 defines the various officers and Rule-3 provides overriding effect of the rule notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in any other rules. Rule-4 lays-down the procedure for implementation of the time schedule and allied matter. It further enjoins that the Nodal Officer shall ascertain cause of the delay on a complaint from the beneficiary. Sub-rule (2) of Rule 4 says that whenever any delay comes to the notice of the Nodal Officer, he shall require the Head of the Department to furnish all relevant information in respect of the cause of delay and he will also direct to hold an enquiry to find out the person responsible for delay. For the convenience, sub-rule (2) of Rule-4 of the Rules, 1995 is extracted herein below:-
"(2) Whenever any delay comes to notice of the Nodal Officer/Chief Nodal Officer, he shall require the Head of the Department/the Head of the Office to furnish all relevant information in respect of the reasons for delay and, after such enquiry as he considers proper, find out the person responsible for the delay and send a proposal to the disciplinary authority concerned for disciplinary proceeding against him. The Nodal Officer/Chief Nodal Officer shall follow up the matter till the completion of the disciplinary proceeding and maintain record of such proceeding. The Nodal Officer shall intimate to the Chief Nodal Officer in respect of the result of such disciplinary proceeding."
21. Sub-rule (3) of Rule 4 provides that the person, who fails to furnish the information or who is responsible for delay, shall be guilty of misconduct. Sub-rule (3) of Rule-4 reads as under:-
" Sub-rule (3)- A person, who fails to furnish required information to the Nodal Officer/Chief Nodal Officer in respect of retirement of an employee or in respect of any other matter relating thereto, or who is responsible for delay, shall be guilty of misconduct and be punishable under the punishment rules applicable to him."
22. Sub-rule (4) of Rule-4 of Rules 1995 provides that duly completed pension papers along with all relevant documents shall be sent to the pension sanctioning authority within the time schedule specified in the schedule.
23. Sub-rule (6) of Rule-4 of the Rules 1995 enjoins that the pension sanctioning authority shall hold a regular monthly meeting of officers/officials who deal such matters and shall take all appropriate steps for examination and disposal of such matters.
24. Sub-rule (7) of Rule-4 of the Rules 1995 empowers the Principal Secretary or Secretary, as the case may be, to the Government in the Department concerned to supervise the work of Head of the Department/Head of the Office in relation to all pension matters within the time schedule.
25. The time schedule has been framed and specified under Rule 3(b) and 3(k). In the said time schedule description of work, time within which work is to be done and person responsible for the work have been laid-down in a tabular form. The some of the relevant and material entries of the time-schedule are quoted herein below:-
Description of work
Time within which work is to be done
Persons responsible for the work.
Completion and verification of service book.
Month of June every year.
1.Concerned clerk of concerned establishment of the department.
3. Head of Office.
Review of service book and completion of deficiency, if any.
08 months before retirement.
1.Concerned establishment clerk.
2. Office Superintendent.
3. Head Office.
Issue of 'No dues Certificate' (In service period).
Two months before retirement.
Head of office.
(a) providing of pension form to retiring official.
(b) Filling of Pension Form.
08 months before retirement.
06 months before retirement.
Head of Office.
Retiring Government Servant.
Completion of forms in death cases.
One month after death.
1. Pension clerk.
2. Office Superintendent.
3. Head of Office.
Enquiries from the Appointing Authority as to whether any departmental proceeding is under consideration or not.
08 months before retirement.
1. Office Superintendent.
2. Head of Office.
Supply of above information by the Appointing Authority.
07 months before retirement.
Forwarding of pension papers.
Five months before retirement.
One month after death.
Head of Office/Head of Department.
Head of Office/Head of Department.
Examination and scrutiny of pension papers etc. and writing to the department, if there is any objection or shortcoming to remove that.
Two months of receipt of pension papers.
2.Assistant Accounts Officer.
3. Pension Payment Order issuing Officer.
Removing of objection.
One month after receiving the objection.
Departmental Head of Office.
disposal of pension case.
One month after receiving the corrected papers.
2.Assistants Accounts Officer.
3. Pension payment Order issuing officer.
Forwarding of No-dues Certificate on Form-2 for release of withheld gratuity.
Two months after retirement.
Head of Office.
Issue of Payment Order(Pension/
Gratuity/Commutation of pension).
Upto or on the eve of retirement.
2.Assistant Accounts Officer.
3. Pension payment Order issuing Officer.
26. A careful reading of the scheme of the Rules 1995, clearly indicates the intention of the rule making authority that the process for the payment of pension should be initiated eight months before the retirement and in any event the issue of payment order (Pension/Gratuity/Commutation of Pension) should be made on the eve of retirement of the employee.
27. The State Government, in exercise of powers conferred by the proviso to Article 309 of the Constitution of India, has made Uttar Pradesh Liberalization Pension Rules, 1961 which provides that the amount of pension admissible under Article 474 or 474-A of the Civil Service Regulation remains the same. It provided that on retirement of a Government servant, he will get the gratuity instead of the Government contribution to the Contributory Provident Pension Fund.
28. It is common experience that a large number of writ petitions are filed by the retired officials/employees in this Court for a direction for payment of their post retiral benefits. The Rules, 1995 clearly provides that responsibility should be fixed by the Nodal Officer for delayed payment. The Rules, 1995 further provides that if any delay is caused due to negligence of the officials or the employee, he shall be held guilty of misconduct and will be punished accordingly.
29. The Supreme in case of State of Mysore v. C.R. Sheshadri, (1974) 4 SCC 308, Justice Krishna Iyer speaking for the court aptly observed, thus:
"A retired government official is sensitive to delay in drawing monetary benefits. And to avoid posthumous satisfaction of the pecuniary expectation of the superannuated public servant-- not unusual in government -- we direct the appellant to consider promptly the claim of the petitioner in the light of our directions and make payment of what is his due -- if so found -- on or before April 15, 1974. The government's inexplicable indifference in not placing before the Court the relevant rule regarding promotion to the post of Deputy Secretary merits the order that the appellant pay the costs of the petitioner/first respondent, for the wages of winner's sloth is denial of costs, and something more."
30. The court again considered the same issue in State of Kerala and others v. M. Padmanabhan Nair, AIR 1985 SC 356, wherein the Court had the occasion to consider the effect and consequences of delay in payment of the retiral benefits of the retired employee. In the said case, the Court held that if a delay occurs, the employee shall be entitled for the interest on the delayed payment. The Supreme court made the following observation:
"1. Pension and gratuity are no longer any bounty to be distributed by the Government to its employees on their retirement but have become, under the decisions of this Court, valuable rights and property in their hands and any culpable delay in settlement and disbursement thereof must be visited with the penalty of payment of interest at the current market rate till actual payment.
2. Usually the delay occurs by reason of non-production of the L.P.C. (last pay certificate) and the N.L.C. (no liability certificate) from the concerned Departments but both these documents pertain to matters, records whereof would be with the concerned Government Departments. Since the date of retirement of every Government servant is very much known in advance we fail to appreciate why the process of collecting the requisite information and issuance of these two documents should not be completed at least a week before the date of retirement so that the payment of gratuity amount could be made to the Government servant on the date he retires or on the following day and pension at the expiry of the following month. The necessity for prompt payment of the retirement dues to a Government servant immediately after his retirement cannot be over-emphasized and it would not be unreasonable to direct that the liability to pay penal interest on these dues at the current market rate should commence at the expiry of two months from the date of retirement."
31. The Supreme Court as well as this Court in an unbroken line of the decisions has consistently held that the employees are entitled for interest on the delayed payment.
32. It is a matter of regret that the law laid-down by the Supreme Court, which is binding on all the authorities, tribunals under Article 141 of the Constitution has been ignored with impunity by the officials of the State Government. They have also ignored the Statutory Rules, 1995, which requires that payment of the post retiral benefits including the gratuity etc. should be paid on the eve of the retirement of the employee.
33. The Supreme Court in the case of D.D. Tewari V. Uttar Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam Ltd., (2014) 8 SCC 894, has quoted the judgment of State of Kerala V. M. Padmanabhan Nair (supra) with approval. The relevant part of the judgment of the Supreme Court reads as under:-
"4. The learned Single Judge has allowed the writ petition vide order dated 25.08.2010, after setting aside the action of the respondents in withholding the amount of gratuity and directing the respondents to release the withheld amount of gratuity within three months without awarding interest as claimed by the appellant. The High Court has adverted to the judgments of this Court particularly, in State of Kerala V. M. Padmanabhan Nair, wherein this Court reiterated its earlier view holding that:
'1. [the] pension and gratuity are no longer any bounty to be distributed by the Government to its employees on their retirement but have become, under the decision of this Court, valuable rights and property in their hands and any culpable delay in settlement and disbursement thereof must be visited with the penalty of payment of interest at the current market rate till actual payment to the employees.'
5. The said legal principle laid down by this Court still holds good insofar as awarding the interest on the delayed payments to the appellant is concerned." . . . . . . .
34. In the case of State of Jharkhand v. Jitendra Kumar Srivastava, (2013) 12 SCC 210, the Supreme Court has held that the pension is a hard earned benefit and is 'property' as per the provisions of Article 300-A of the Constitution of India. The Court has held that pension and gratuity are not the bounties and the employee earns these benefits by his hard work, continuous, faithful and unblemished service. The Court has relied on the judgment rendered in D.S. Nakara v. Union of India, (1983) 1 SCC 305. The relevant part of the judgment in Jitendra Kumar Srivastava (supra) is quoted as under:-
"It is thus a hard earned benefit which accrues to an employee and is in the nature of "property". This right to property cannot be taken away without the due process of law as per the provisions of Article 300-A of the Constitution of India."
35. The Supreme Court in the case of Gorakhpur University v. Shitla Prasad Nagendra (Dr.), (2001) 6 SCC 591, has held that any delay in settlement and disbursement of pension should be viewed seriously and dealt with severely by imposing penalty in the form of payment of interest. Paragraph no.5 of the judgment, which is relevant for the purpose, is quoted hereinbelow:-
"5. We have carefully considered the submission on behalf of the respective parties before us. The earlier decision pertaining to this very University, report in S.N. Mathur is that of a Division Bench, rendered after considering he principles laid down and also placing reliance upon the decisions of this Court report in R. Kapur which, in turn, relied upon earlier decisions in State of Kerala V. M. Padmanabhan Nair and Som Prakash. This Court has been repeatedly emphasizing the position that pension and gratuity are no longer matters of any bounty to be distributed by the Government but are valuable rights acquired and property in their hands and any delay in settlement and disbursement whereof should be viewed seriously and dealt with severely by imposing penalty in the form of payment of interest."
36. The Supreme Court has taken the judicial notice of the fact that a spate of the writ petitions is filed in the Supreme Court and various High Courts seeking a direction for payment of the retiral benefits. The Supreme Court has also noted that in the State of U.P. several instructions have been issued for early payment. Paragraph nos. 2 and 3 of the judgment rendered in the case of Uma Agrawal (Dr) v. State of U.P., (1999) 3 SCC 438, which are apposite in this regards, read thus-
"2. Nowadays, several writ petitions are being filed in this Court and various High Courts seeking relief for disbursement of retiral benefits, because of inordinate delays in payment of these benefits. As Krishna Iyer, J. stated in State of Mysore V. C.R. Seshadri-
'a retired government official is sensitive to delay in drawing monetary benefits. And to avoid posthumous satisfaction of the pecuniary expectation of the superannuated public servant - not unusual in Government.'
It is becoming necessary to issue directions, in several cases, for early payment of these dues. In yet another case in State of Kerala v. M. Padmanabhan Nair this Court had occasion to point out (at SCC p. 430, para 2) that usually 'the delay occurs by reason of non-production of the L.P.C. (last pay certificate) and the N.L.C. (no liability certificate) from the concerned departments' but both the documents pertain to matters, records whereof would be with the government departments concerned. It was observed that inasmuch as the date of retirement of every government servant was very much known in advance, it was difficult to appreciate why the process of collecting the requisite information and issuance of the above-said two documents should not be completed well before the date of retirement so that the payment of gratuity amount could be made on the date of retirement or on the following day and the pension, at the expiry of the following month. This Court stated that the necessity for prompt payment of the retirement dues to a government servant immediately after his retirement could not be overemphasized and it would not be unreasonable to direct that there would be a liability to pay penal interest on these retirement benefits. In several cases decided by this Court, interest at the rate of 12% per annum has been directed to be paid by the State".
"3. As these delays have increased in the last few years, it has become necessary to refer to the Rules and departmental instructions which do contain adequate provisions for compilation of all the necessary data and preparation of the necessary documents for disbursement of retiral benefits well in advance. The present case arises from Uttar Pradesh and we find that the Government of Uttar Pradesh has issued instructions to the effect that-
'the Head Office, or other authority responsible for preparing the pension papers should initiate the pension case, two years before retirement of the government servant. At that stage, the essential information necessary for working out the qualifying service should be collected, and the entire service-book and other service records should be examined and completed with a view to remove deficiencies and imperfections, if any, in the service-book/ records. This process should be completed'.
At least eight months in advance of the date of retirement of the government servant. The actual computation and preparation of the pension papers should then start and-
'any deficiency or imperfection, or omission which still remains in the service records should be ignored, and the determination of qualifying service should be proceeded with on the basis of entries in the service records, whatever the degree of imperfection to which it might have been possible to bring them by that time..... The process of determining the qualifying service and the average emoluments and the admissible pension and gratuity should be positively completed within a period of 2 months and the pension papers sent to the Accountant General not later than 6 months before the date of retirement. The said office is to issue the pension payment order (including the order for the payment of the death-cum-retirement gratuity) one month in advance of the date of retirement. ... It should be ensured that the payment of superannuation pension commences on the first of the month following the month in which the government servant retires.'
37. In the case of S.K. Dua v. State of Haryana, (2008) 3 SCC 44, at page 47, the Court has held that even in absence of statutory rules, administrative instructions or guidelines, an employee can claim interest relying on Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution. Paragraph no. 14 of the said judgment is quoted hereunder;-
"14. In the circumstances, prima facie, we are of the view that the grievance voiced by the appellant appears to be well founded that he would be entitled to interest on such benefits. If there are statutory rules occupying the field, the appellant could claim payment of interest relying on such rules. If there are administrative instructions, guidelines or norms prescribed for the purpose, the appellant may claim benefit of interest on that basis. But even in absence of statutory rules, administrative instructions or guidelines, an employee can claim interest under Part III of the Constitution relying on Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution. The submission of the learned counsel for the appellant, that retiral benefits are not in the nature of "bounty" is, in our opinion, well founded and needs no authority in support thereof. In that view of the matter, in our considered opinion, the High Court was not right in dismissing the petition in limine even without issuing notice to the respondents."
38. In the case of Vijay L. Mehrotra v. State of U.P., (2001) 9 SCC 687, the Supreme Court has held that it is expected that all the payment of the retiral benefits should be made on the date of retirement or soon thereafter. Paragraph nos. 3 and 4 of the aforesaid judgment read as under:-
"3. In case of an employee retiring after having rendered service, It is expected that all the payment of the retiral benefits should be paid on the date of retirement or soon thereafter if for some unforseen circumstances the payments could not be made on the date of retirement.
4. In this case, there is absolutely no reason or justification for not making the payments for months together. We, therefore, direct the respondent to pay to the appellant within 12 weeks from today simple interest at the rate of 18 per cent with effect from the date of her retirement, i.e. 31.08.1997 till the date of payments."
( emphasis supplied)
39. This Court also way back in the year 1983 in the case of Prahlad Singh v. State of U.P. (All.), 1983 (3) SLR 58 All (DB) has deprecated the conduct of the respondents in paying the post retiral benefits after inordinate delay. Paragraph no. 6 of the said judgment is relevant, which is quoted hereinbelow:-
"6. The petitioner has rendered valuable service to the State for a period of 31 years. Under the Statutory Rules he was eligible to payment of gratuity and pension within a reasonable period on his retirement. But he has not been paid even a penny even though a period of 9 years have expired. The purpose of pension is to grant relief to a Government servant who retires from Service. Gratuity is in the nature of compensation for valuable service rendered to the State. The object of providing pensionary benefits is to grant compensation to the Government servant so that he may not face financial difficulties on his retirement. It is difficult to comprehend as to how a Government servant can survive and maintain his family in these hard days when his pension and gratuity is not paid for 9 years after his retirement. We are constrained to observe that the respondents have acted in a casual manner without having any regard to the public interest. If Government servants after rendering valuable service to the State are denied payment of pension and gratuity, there would be demoralization in the service which would certainly, be against the public interest. The respondents conduct in not paying gratuity and pension is reprehensible and unjustified. The petitioner has been harassed during all these period for which he is entitled to be compensated."
40. The principle of law that emanates from the above judgments is that if pension and other retiral dues are not paid immediately, the employee shall be entitled for the interest.
41. In addition to above, in this State there is already a statutory rule, being Rule 1995, all the formalities for the payment of pension etc. must be completed strictly in terms of the time-frame provided under the schedule of the Rules, 1995 and the employer cannot take a plea that the delay was caused due to the fault of the employee. As is evident from the time-frame provided under the Rules, 1995, the employee cannot be blamed for the delay as all the process for completing the paper formalities are required to be initiated by the department much before the date of his retirement.
42. Relevant, would it be to mention that the State Government, from time to time has expressed its helplessness in the matter of the delayed payment. In one of the Government Orders dated 05.05.1985, the State Government has noted that Lok Ayukta has expressed his displeasure that large number of complaints have been made to him by the retired employees in respect of the delayed payment of their retiral benefits. The State Government has also noted the fact that in spite of the steps taken by the State Government for early disposal of the pension matters, due to the negligence of the officials, large number of matters of the payment of pension are still pending. The relevant part of the Government Order is extracted hereinbelow:-
**’’ उपरोक्त विषय पर मुझे यह कहने का निदेश हुआ है कि यद्यपि राज्य सरकार अपने कर्मचारियों के सेवानैवृत्तिक प्रकरणों को समय से निस्तारित कराने की दिशा में सदैव से सजग रही है तथा इस प्रयास में पेंशन संबंधी अनेकों नियमों एवं व्यवस्थाओं में शिथिलीकरण एवं उदारीकरण भी किया गया है, तथापि कदाचित अधीनस्थ कार्यालयों की उदासीनता के कारण अभी भी बड़ी संख्या में पेंशन प्रकरण लम्बित हैं, जिनके कारण संबंधित कर्मचारी को अत्याधिक आर्थिक कठिनाइयों का सामना करना पड़ रहा है। अनेकों पेंशनर अपनी समस्याओं को लेकर लोकायुक्त कार्यालय उ0प्र0 लखनऊ से शिकायत करते हैं तथा उक्त कार्यालय उन पर तत्परता से कार्यवाही करके लम्बित प्रकरणों को निस्तारित कराने का प्रयास करता हैं। परन्तु लोकायुक्त संगठन ने इस आशय का रोष प्रकट किया है कि अधीनस्थ विभागों से प्रकरण के लम्बित होने के कारण जानने एवं उसे निस्तारित कराने के संबंध में भेजे गए पत्रों का आपके कार्यालयों द्वारा उत्तर नहीं दिया जाता है तथा उन्हें लोकायुक्त कार्यालय में अभिलेखों सहित बुलाए जाने पर वे उपस्थित नहीं होते है। उपरोक्त स्थिति ठीक नहीं है। इस संदर्भ में मुझे यह कहने का निदेश हुआ है कि -’’ **
43. Regard may be had to the fact that the State Government has also constituted a 'Pension Adalat' (Pension Court) for expeditious disposal of the pension matter in the year 1996 but the employees could not get the appropriate relief in the matter. The State Government, hence again issued an order dated 24.02.2003 recording its dissentment in the following words:-
** ’’ ऐसा अनुभव किया जा रहा है कि प्रायः सभी विभागों में ऐसे पेंशन प्रकरण काफी संख्या में लम्बित हैं जो या तो विवादित हैं या विभाग के संबंधित अधिकारियों द्वारा उनके निस्तारण में पर्याप्त रूचि न लिए जाने के कारण लम्बित हैं। इस प्रकार की स्थिति बनी रहने से शासन के सभी प्रयास विफल होने लगते हैं तथा जहाॅ एक ओर सेवानिवृत कर्मचारी एवं उसके परिवार को आर्थिक एवं मानसिक कष्ट सहना पड़ता है वहीं शासन की छवि धूमिल होती है और सम्पूर्ण प्रशासन पर आक्षेप आता है। अनेक प्रकरणों में सरकारी कर्मचारी की सेवानिवृति के कई-कई महीनों तक कर्मचारी को पेंशन एवं उत्पादन का भुगतान नहीं होता है यह चिन्ता का विषय है और इस पर तत्काल प्रभावी कार्यवाही करके अंकुश लगाना आवश्यक है। पूर्व में भी इस प्रकार के विलम्ब को समाप्त करने के उद्देश्य से अनेक शासनादेश निर्गत किए गए हैं, परन्तु ऐसा प्रतीत होता है कि निर्देशों का समुचित रूप से अनुपालन नहीं हो रहा है।’’*
44. Similar Government Orders have been issued from time to time by the State Government but without any effect. In the aforesaid Government Order, the State Government has clearly expressed its helplessness. Such a pitiable situation in respect of a retired employee cannot be countenanced by the Court. We are a Society pledged to uphold the rule of law, it would be unwise to leave retired persons, who are in their evening of life, to such insensitive officials who have no respect for the rule of law and sympathy to a retired person.
45. It is apt to note that we are a welfare State. The concept of pension is a measure of welfare scheme. It is obligation of the State to take care of the employees who have spent their best years of the life in serving the State. In their old age, they must not be left to live in indigent circumstances. The retiral benefits provide them a social security and helps them to live with the dignity.
46. The next question which merit consideration is what would be appropriate rate of interest on the delayed payment of pension. I find that no hard and fast rule has been laid-down by the Supreme Court while awarding interest on the delayed payment but in most of the cases the Supreme Court has granted 12% interest on the delayed payment. Reference may be made to some of the judgments, which are as follows:-
Gurdial Singh v. Union of India, (2001) 8 SCC 8; R.P. Kapur v. Union of India, (1999) 8 SCC 110; R.R. Bhanot v. Union of India, (1994) 2 SCC 406; Chandrajeet Kaur (Smt.) v. Union of India,(1994) 2 SCC 1; Pradumal Kr. Jain v. Union of India,1994 Suppl. 2 SCC 548; Ram Saran Srivastava v. Director of Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur, 2000 (84) F.L.R. 203 (All); J.P. Kulshrestha (Dr.) v. State of U.P.,2002 (94) F.L.R. 406;
47. In following cases, the Supreme Court has awarded 8% to 10% interest on delayed payment.
Y.K. Singla v. Punjab National Bank and others,(2013) 3 SCC 472; Deo Dutta v. Union of India, (2008) 8 SCC 725; State of U.P. v. Gulab Shankar Srivastava (2005) 9 SCC 682; Union of India v. P.N. Natrajan, (2010) 12 SCC 405.
48. However, in the leading case of M. Padmanabhan Nair (Supra), the Supreme Court has held that the interest should be paid at the current market rate till actual payment. In recent case D.D. Tewari case (Supra) following the case of Padmanabhan Nair Case (supra), Supreme Court has awarded interest at 9% on the delayed payment of pension and other dues.
49. As a sequel to the above, broad principles that can be culled out from the various decisions and statuary rules can be summarized thus:
i) Pension and other retiral benefits of all Government employees must be sanctioned / paid in terms of the Rules, 1995 on the eve of their retirement, if there is no legal impediment.
ii) If there is any delay in the payment of retiral benefits and pension, the employee shall be entitled for the interest at the current market rate with effect from the date of his/her retirement till the date of actual payment. The interest on delayed payment shall be paid by the State Government. It will be open to the State Government to recover it from the officer/officials who are found to be guilty for negligence in payment of the pension. If such official is retired, the amount of the interest shall be recovered from his/her post retiral benefits/pension after furnishing him/her opportunity.
iii) It will be open to the State Government to initiate proceedings against such official for taking action for misconduct in terms of the Rules, 1995, if he is in service.
50. In view of the above, respondents are directed to pay the simple interest at the rate of 9% from the one month after the death of petitioners father till the date of actual payment to them and further to pay the GPF within a month ,if it has already not been paid, along with the interest at the rate of 9% as held above.
51. The writ petition is allowed.
52. No costs.
Order Date :- 20.5.2016