VRS benefit cant be claimed as a matter of right

Written by Indu Bhan | Indu Bhan | Updated: Jul 11 2013, 07:13am hrs
Punjab & Haryana HC to recalculate land compensation

Quashing the Punjab and Haryana High Court order in the case of Haryana State Industrial Development Corporation vs Udal and others, the Supreme Court has asked the HC to recalculate the compensation to be paid to the land-owners whose land was acquired in 1994 by the Haryana government. It stated that the HC committed an error by not taking into consideration the rate paid to Honda Motorcycles and Scooters India Ltd which was R60.69 lakh per acre. Even after deducting 40% for development cost, the market value would be higher than R37.40 lakh, it said, while directing the HC to relook at the issue.

The Haryana government had acquired around 2,000 acre of land to establish Industrial Model Township at Manesar near Gurgaon between 1994 and 2004.

Instead of adopting a holistic approach and examining the documents properly, the HC simply referred to the judgment of the apex court in Pran Sukhs case and granted a flat increase of 12% for the time gap of about 7 years and 3 months between the two acquisitions, i.e. 1994 and 2002, and determined market value at the rate of R37.40 lakh per acre, the apex court noted.

The HC had enhanced the rate from R28.15 lakh per acre to R37.40 lakh per acre and other fast developing areas of Gurgaon district. HSIIDC and the landowners challenged the HC order. Senior counsel Parag P Tripathi for the state government argued that the escalation of 12% in compensation by the HC was excessive. He argued that while assessing market value of a large chunk of land, the court cannot award more than 7.5% escalation in the market value determined in respect of similar parcels of land.

Maruti Suzuki, which has a manufacturing plant in Manesar, opposed the landowners claim for further enhancement saying it got 600 acre of land without any development at R19 lakh per acre in 2008 and if it is enhanced, it would place unbearable burden on the company and its Manesar unit will have to be closed down. The state will lose R8,000 crore in revenue and 20,000 workers will be rendered jobless, the car maker stated.

Only cheque signatory to be prosecuted, not joint a/c holders

The Supreme Court in the case of Aparna Shah vs Sheth Developers Ltd has held that only the drawer of a bounced cheque can be prosecuted under the Negotiable Instruments (NI) Act and not the other joint account holders whose names appear on the cheque. It said that under Section 138 of the NI Act, in case of issuance of cheque from joint accounts, a joint account holder cannot be prosecuted unless the cheque has been signed by each and every person who is a joint account holder.

In this case, the wife was partner in a joint venture, but the concerned cheque was signed only by her husband. The Bombay High Court refused to quash the summons issued by the trial court to her along with her husband. On appeal, the Supreme Court said that the prosecution under the Act alone was barred in such cases. The proceedings filed under Section 138 cannot be used as an arm-twisting tactics to recover the amount allegedly due from the appellant (Shah). It cannot be said that the complainant has no remedy against the appellant but certainly not under Section 138, the top court said.

Decision to allow an employee to retire lies only with the employer

The Supreme Court has ruled that no employee can claim the benefits of voluntary retirement scheme (VRS) as a matter of right and the decision to allow an employee to retire lies only with the employer. A VRS introduced by a company is essentially a part of the companys desire to weed out the deadwood, it said in the case of CV Francis vs Union of India & Ors. According to the top court, Whether an employee to retire should be allowed to retire in terms of the scheme (VRS) is a decision which can only be taken by the employer company, except in cases where the scheme itself provides for retirement to take effect when the notice period comes to an end.

It rejected Francis stand that his termination from the post of a manager of Steel Authority of India Ltd (SAIL) at Bokaro in Jharkhand on account of unauthorised absence in 1999 was illegal as he had already applied for VRS.

Francis, who had taken up an employment in the US after applying for VRS, had contended that his plea for VRS came into effect on the expiry of the notice period as the employer did not take any decision on his plea and hence, it should be construed as deemed acceptance.

SAIL had termed his subsequent absence as unauthorised and terminated him.

The Jharkhand High Court had approved SAILs decision.