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Additional munificence, in addition to the job provided for the sustenance of the deceased’s family,

STATE OF ODISHA & ORS.VS. MANJU NAIK.,CIVIL APPEAL NO. 9204 OF 2019 Arising out of SLP(C) No.16283 of 2017. – 4 December 2019.

The bench encompassing Justice R.Banumathi, Justice A.S.Bopanna and Justice Hrishikesh Roy collectively pronounced judgment on invalid pension under Rule 39 of the Pension Rules. . The present appeal arises out of the judgment of the High Court of Orissa which dismissed the appellants’ challenge to the order of the Odisha Administrative Tribunal (hereinafter referred to as “the Tribunal”) under which the authorities were directed to consider sanction of invalid pension in favour of late Sagar Naik (husband of the respondent) and thereafter settle family pension in favour of the applicant, under the provisions of the Orissa Civil Services (Pension) Rules- 1992.

The respondent filed the OA before the Tribunal praying for fixation of pay of late Sagar Naik and for disbursal of his accrued financial benefits with effect on being mentally incapacitated. The applicant also prayed for sanction of family pension. The Government Advocate on behalf of the State contended before the Tribunal that the applicant’s husband had not rendered the qualifying period of service so as to make him eligible for pension. The Tribunal concluded that the applicant’s husband was entitled to invalid pension under Rule 39 of the Pension Rules. It was challenged by the appellants.  However, the High Court observed that a reasoned order was passed by the Tribunal declaring entitlement for the invalid pension and accordingly the Tribunal’s impugned order was left undisturbed and the writ petition came to be dismissed.

Ms. Anindita Pujari, learned counsel appeared on behalf of the appellants and Mr. Kedar Nath Tripathi, learned counsel appeared on behalf of the respondents. The appellants argued that the deceased government employee was unauthorizedly absent from service from 1.2.1995 to 23.7.1995 and was under suspension from 24.7.1995 to 6.7.1996 and this period could be counted for determining the qualifying service. She further contended that without completing the qualifying service of ten years, the deceased employee was ineligible for pension. Due to such non-entitlement, the widow was granted the alternate benefit. Per contra, the respondents argued that the government employee was allowed to retire from service on 6.7.1996 on the ground of mental incapacity and since invalid pension was envisaged under Rule 39 of the Pension Rules for such prematurely retiring employees suffering permanent incapacity, the Tribunal and the High Court had rightly ordered for grant of invalid pension for the respondent’s husband.

The Court made the following observations:

  1. The employee (Sagar Naik) was retired from service on 6.7.1996 on the ground of mental incapacity on the basis of the medical certificate issued by the HoD of the Psychiatric Department of the S.C.B. Medical College, Cuttack.

  2. His net qualifying service for the benefits under the Pension Rules was taken as 4 years 6 months and 29 days only.

  3. For government servants not completing ten years qualifying service prescribed in Rule 47(5)(i) of the Pension Rules, the service gratuity is to be paid at a uniform rate of half month’s emolument for every completed six months period of service.

  4. The respondent never however prayed for invalid pension before the Tribunal. Yet, the Tribunal ordered for invalid pension for the respondent’s husband, under Rule 39 of the Pension Rules.

  5. Rule 39 has to be read together with Rule 47 of the Pension Rules.

  6. The respondent’s husband was retired on the ground of mental infirmity and hence the service gratuity was paid and the widow had received the same, without any demur.

  7. The Tribunal went beyond the prayers.

  8. The High Court and the Tribunal however ignored the qualifying service of ten years as prescribed in the Pension Rules although the State specifically argued that the qualifying service criterion has to be satisfied not only for the regular pension but also for the invalid pension since both claims were to be considered under the very same Pension Rules.

  9. An employee became entitled to pension by stint of his long service for the employer and, therefore, it should be seen as a reward for toiling hard and long for the employer.

  10. The Pension Rules definitely envisaged that there could be a situation where an employee may not be eligible for pension benefits for not satisfying the prescribed qualifying service of 10 years.

  11. It was difficult for us to conclude that for invalid pension, qualifying years of service, can be ignored.

  12. It relied on the decision in Union of India and Another Vs. Bashirbhai R. Khiliji.

  13. The needed means of sustenance was provided to the deceased’s family.

The Court pronounced the following:

“The Tribunal as well as the High Court granted her the unclaimed relief. Such additional munificence, in addition to the job provided to the first respondent under the Rehabilitation Assistance Scheme for the sustenance of the deceased’s family, in our view, was unwarranted and the impugned order cannot be sustained.  In view of the foregoing, the impugned orders of Tribunal and the High Court are set aside and the Appeal stands allowed.”

View/Download Judgment: State of Odisha & Ors v. Manju Naik

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