Bhopal: The High Court of Madhya Pradesh has pointed to the “very disturbing trend in respect of the pensioners” in a landmark order on Wednesday 14 October 2020, and instructed the State Chief Secretary to ensure that in all cases of pensioners, the payment of pension starts immediately after their retirement.
The order passed by Justice SC Sharma of the Indore Bench of the High Court further states: “This Court hopes and trust that the Chief Secretary will ensure strict compliance of the order passed by this Court.”
The order of the High Court comes in response to a petition filed by Dr Pratibha Pathak, a widow and a retired professor of Physics for the non – payment of pension, gratuity and other terminal dues. The petitioner’s grievance was that on attaining the age of superannuation on 28 April 2018, she was entitled for pension, gratuity, leave encashment and other admissible dues with effect from 1 May 2018. Initially she was sanctioned 90% of the provisional pension without any dearness allowance but it was stopped from October 2019. She has not been paid full gratuity as well as other retirement dues.
The High Court order has brought on record the version of the Principal Government Post Graduate College at Ujjain, who filed a reply in the matter stating that she had been trying to ensure that the petitioner got pension and had also written a letter on 25 August 2020 to the Commissioner Higher Education for expediting the matter. Further it has been stated that leave encashment amount had been paid to the petitioner. Barring that nothing had been filed by the respondent and no reason had been assigned by the respondents/Government in the matter.
The Writ petition revealed that the State Finance Department had not granted approval in the matter and pension was not being paid.
The High Court order says: “The present case reflects a very sorry state of affairs. Not only in this case but in other cases also, pension is not being paid in time to the retired employees. Even in the cases of District Judges, pension was not paid in time and with great difficulty, with the intervention of the High Court, pension was released.”
In a similar case of Dr. (Ms.) Shamanta Iyengar Vs. State of MP and others (W.P.No. 8383/2019, decided on 09/12/2019), this Court has directed payment of pension within a period of 90 days.
The High Court order also questions why sanction of Finance Department is required and even if it is required why matters were being delayed indefinitely by the Finance Department. The other important aspect of this case is that the Principal Secretary of the State (Higher) Education Department has written a letter to the Additional Chief Secretary of the Finance Department that individual sanction is not required in all cases and in spite of of this, pension was not being paid in time to the retired Government servants.
Allowing the Writ Petition, the High Court has ordered that the the petitioner is not only entitled for pension and other terminal dues but is also entitled for interest. The State Government has been directed to pay interest @ 8.5 % per annum from the date of entitlement till the amount is actually paid under various heads to the petitioner.
Fruther it has been ordered that the exercise of paying pension and other retirement dues be concluded within a period of 60 days from today and in case the amount and the interest, as directed by this Court, is not paid within 60 days, the rate of interest shall be 12.5% p.a., from the date of entitlement till the amount is actually
paid to the petitioner.
The court has said as the petitioner was forced to come down to Indore during COVID-19 Pandemic on account of this case and, therefore, keeping in view the totality of the circumstances of the case, the Writ Petition stands allowed with a costs of Rs.50,000 to be paid to the petitioner, within 60 days.
The State Government also has been asked by the High Court to conduct a fact finding enquiry and fix the responsibility in respect of the officers who have delayed the matter of payment of pension in this case.
After the fact finding enquiry, the High Court order says, the State Government shall follow the due process of law for recovering the amount paid to the petitioner as interest as well as costs from the Officer who is held responsible in the matter of delayed payment of pension and costs. The entire exercise of the fact finding enquiry and recovery of the amount be concluded within a period of 90 days of the passing of this order.