Pension for work-charged Government employee: Know what Supreme Court says

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Updated: October 29, 2019 10:53:56 AM

Pension for work-charged Government employee: There are a large number of government employees who have been regularised after they worked for several years or months on work-charged other basis.

pension for work charged government employeeService rendered as work-charged employee can be qualifying service to be considered for pension. Representational image/Pixabay

Pension for work-charged Government employee: There are a large number of government employees who have been regularised after they worked for several years or months on work-charged other basis. Whether the service provided before regularisation could be considered for calculating pension of such employees after retirement? Well, a recent Supreme Court judgement throws light on what part of service rendered by the employee can be counted as qualifying service for pension. According to the SC judgment in Prem Singh vs State of Uttar Pradesh and Ors dated September 2, 2019, the services rendered before regularisation in the capacity of work-charged employee shall be counted towards the qualifying service for pension.

The case

The SC judgment came in a decades-old case involving one Prem Singh, who was appointed as a Welder in 1965 in a work-charged establishment ((Ram Ganga River Valley Project, Kalagarh). Singh was transferred from one place to another, and finally, the Selection Committee recommended for regularisation of his services. He was regularised on 13.03.2002 and posted as a pump operator in the pay scale of Rs 3050 – 4590 in the regular establishment. Singh superannuated on 31st January 2007 and thereafter, approached the High Court on 31st July 2008 with a writ petition, seeking counting of the period spent in work-charged establishment as qualifying service under the rules of 1965. The High Court dismissed the writ petition and the special appeal made later.

Previous case

In Punjab State Electricity Board & Anr. v. Narata Singh and Anr., (2010), the apex court had held that the period of work-charged service should be counted for computation of qualifying service for grant of pension.

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UP government’s claim

  • Contesting the appellant’s demand, the UP government argued there was a “conceptual difference” between a regular an work-charged employees. Advocate General Raghuvendra Singh, who appeared for state government, said “work-charged employees are not appointed by following the same procedure as that of regular employees. Work pressure and accountability also differ.” He further submitted that work-charged services cannot be treated as regular service even for Assured Career Progression (ACP). And, the Government has the power to frame different rules for different classes of employees.
  • The state government further said that though work-charged employees can claim protection under the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947, they cannot be treated at par with employees of regular establishment. “Treating them similarly would be like giving similar treatment to unequal classes which would be against the Right to Equality provided under Article 14 of the Constitution of India. Work-charged employee forms a separate and distinct class. They cannot be treated at par with regular, temporary or ad-hoc employees,” UP government to SC.
  • “The work is qualitatively different as such services in the work-charged establishment cannot be clubbed with the services of a regular establishment unless a specific provision to that effect is made. Giving the benefit of pension to work-charged employees is against the basic concept of pension which is admissible to a regular employee. The pension cannot be claimed as of right,” it added.

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What is meant by work-charged?

In Jaswant Singh & Ors. v. Union of India & Ors. (1979) 4 SCC 440, the Supreme Court had observed: “A work-charged establishment broadly means an establishment of which the expenses, including the wages and allowances of the staff, are chargeable to “works”. The pay and allowances of employees who are borne on a work-charged establishment are generally shown as a separate sub-head of the estimated cost of the works.”

SC not impressed with UP govt’s claim

The UP government urged the SC to differentiate the case between work-charged employees and regular employees on the ground that due procedure is not followed for appointment of work charged employees, they do not have that much work pressure, they are unequal and cannot be treated equally, work charged employees form a totally different class, their work is materially and qualitatively different, there cannot be any clubbing of the services of the work-charged employees with the regular service and vice versa, if a work-charged employee is treated as in the regular service it will dilute the basic concept of giving incentive and reward to a permanent and responsible regular employee.”

The top court, however, was “not impressed” with the UP government’s submissions.

The judgement: What SC said

The apex court noted that the work-charged employee in question was appointed on a monthly salary and he was required to cross the efficiency bar also. It further said that the state government has submitted “No material indicating qualitative difference …except making bald statement”. Also, the employee in question was not appointed for a particular project, which is the basic concept of the work charged employees. “Rather, the very concept of work-charged employment has been misused by offering the employment on exploitative terms for the work which is regular and perennial in nature.”

Supreme Court concluded: “In view of reading down Rule 3(8) of the U.P. Retirement Benefits Rules, 1961, we hold that services rendered in the work-charged establishment shall be treated as qualifying service under the aforesaid rule for grant of pension. The arrears of pension shall be confined to three years only before the date of the order. “

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