In Kerala State Road Transport Corporation v. Varghese, (2003) 12 SCC 293, observing that recovery after retirement amounts to cut from retiral dues and causes irreparable loss and injury to a retired employee, as retirement dues are the only source of livelihood. Apex Court in the case of Ram Dayal Rai v. Jharkhand State Electricity Board, (2005) 3 SCC 501, held that even 5% cut out from the total amount of pension payable to the appellant was an irreparable loss and injury. Court in this case while dealing with a recovery due to overstay in official accommodation, had held:
“If the petitioner’s benefit is cut at 5% out of the total amount of pension payable to the appellant, the appellant will suffer an irreparable loss and injury since, after retirement, the pensionary benefit is the only amount available to eke out a livelihood for the retired employees of the Government.”
Similarly, recovery of an amount from the dues of deceased employee to which his widow is entitled, on the ground that he was paid an excess amount due to wrong fixation of pay cannot be justified after his death. Moreover, in the absence of any finding forthcoming that deceased employee was wrongly benefited for his representation and fraud, no such amount already paid is liable to be recovered. Savitri Pathak v. State of U.P., 2018 (2) AWC 3056.
An employee is entitled to subsistence allowance during an inquiry pending against him or her but if that employee is starved of finances by zero payment, it would be unreasonable to expect the employee to meaningfully participate in a departmental inquiry. Access to justice is a valuable right available to every person, even to a criminal and indeed free legal representation is provided even to a criminal. In the case of a departmental inquiry, the delinquent is at best guilty of a misconduct but that is no ground to deny access to pension (wherever applicable) or subsistence allowance (wherever applicable). UCO Bank v. R.S. Shukla, 2018 (2) ESC 372.
Interest on delayed payment on retiral dues has been upheld time and again in a catena of decisions. In Shamal Chand Tiwari v. State of U.P.¸(W.P. No. 34804 of 2004) decided on 06.12.2005 it was held: “Now the question comes about entitlement of the petitioner for interest on delayed payment of retiral benefits. Since the date of retirement is known to the respondents well in advance, there is no reason for them not to make arrangement for payment of retiral benefits to the petitioner well in advance so that as soon as the employee retires, his retiral benefits are paid on the date of retirement or within reasonable time thereafter. Inaction and inordinate delay in payment of retiral benefits is nothing but culpable delay warranting liability of interest on such dues. In the case of State of Kerala v. M. Padnaban Nair, 1985 (1) SLR 750, the Hon’ble Supreme Court held as under:
“Since the date of retirement of every Government Servant is very much known in advance we fail to appreciate why the process 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 months. The necessity for prompt payment of the retirement dues to a Government Servant immediately after his retirement cannot be overemphasized 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.” Dr. Chandrakant Sharma v. Vice Chancellor, 2017 (1) ESC 128.
A Division Bench of the Hon’ble Allahabad High Court in Dr. Rajeev Ranjan Mishra and others v. State of U.P. and others, 2008 (1) AWC 810, held as under:
“The distinction between rule of “recruitment” and “condition of service” is no more res integra having already been settled by the Apex court in catena of cases. In State of M.P. v. Shardul Singh, (1970) 1 SCC 108, the Apex Court held that the term “conditions of service” means all those conditions which regulate the holding of a post by a person right from the time of his appointment till retirement and even pension etc. It was reiterated in I.N. Subbareddy v. State of A.P., (1997) 1 SCC 554. In Syed Khalid Rizvi v. Union of India, 1993 Supp (3) SCC 575, the Apex Court held that where a rule permits relaxation of provisions pertaining to “conditions of service”, the same would be applicable to the condition after appointment to the service in accordance with rules. It also held that “conditions of recruitment” and “conditions of service” are distinct and the latter is preceded by an appointment according to rules, the former cannot be relaxed.”
In a Full Bench Judgment of the Gujarat High Court in A.J. Patel and others v. State of Gujarat and others, AIR 1965 Guj 23, with reference to Article 309 of the Constitution of India, it was held as under:
“From this Article it is evident that rules relating to the recruitment of persons to public services and posts are distinct from rules relating to the conditions of service. The conditions of service are conditions applicable to persons who have been appointed to public services and posts. The terms and conditions relating to recruitment and relating to appointment to public services and posts must, therefore, be regarded as distinct and different from the conditions of service governing persons on their appointment to public services and posts.” Raj Kumar Pandey and others v. State of U.P. and Others, (2014) 1 UPLBEC 224.
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.