The question whether the pension granted to a public servant is property attracting Article 31(1) came up for consideration before the Punjab High Court in Bhagwant Singh v. Union of India, AIR 1962 Punj 503. I was held that such a right constitutes “property” and any interference will be a breach of Article 31(1) of the Constitution. It was further held that the State cannot by an executive order curtail or abolish altogether the right of the public servant to receive pension. This decision was taken up in Letters Patent Appeal by the Union of India. The Letters Patent Bench in its decision in Union of India v. Bhagwant Singh, ILR 1965 Punj 1 approved the decision of the Learned Senior Judge. The Letters Patent Bench held that the pension granted to a public servant on his retirement is “property” within the meaning of Article 31(1) of the Constitution and he could be deprived of the same only by an authority of law and that pension does not cease to be property on the mere denial or cancellation of it. It was further held that the character of pension as “property” cannot possibly undergo such mutation at the whim of a particular person or authority.
In State of West Bengal v. Haresh C. Banerjee and Ors. (2006) 7SCC 651, this Court recognized that even when, after the repeal of Article 19(1)(f) and Article 31 (1) of the Constitution vide Constitution (Forty-Fourth Amendment) Act, 1978 w.e.f. 20th June, 1979, the right to property was no longer remained a fundamental right, it was still a Constitutional right, as provided in Article 300A of the Constitution. Right to receive pension was treated as right to property. Otherwise, challenge in that case was to the vires of Rule 10(1) of the West Bengal Services (Death-cum-Retirement Benefit) Rules, 1971 which conferred the right upon the Governor to withhold or withdraw a pension or any part thereof under certain circumstances and the said challenge was repelled by this Court. Fact remains that there is an imprimatur to the legal principle that the right to receive pension is recognized as a right in “property”.
A person cannot be deprived of this pension without the authority of law, which is the Constitutional mandate enshrined in Article 300 A of the Constitution. It follows that attempt of the appellant to take away a part of pension or gratuity or even leave encashment without any statutory provision and under the umbrage of administrative instruction cannot be countenanced. State of Jharkhand and others v. Jitendra Kumar Srivastava and others, C.A. No. 6770 of 2013 decided on 14.08.2013.