The Supreme Court today recommended to the Centre that it should make life of a retired government servant easy by enacting proper pension rules, rather than making a “khichdi” of the process. A bench of justices M B Lokur and Deepak Gupta made the observation in a 27-year-old pension case of a retired railway official seeking modification of his pension as per the recommendations of the 5th Pay Commission. The bench also referred to an anecdote by Privy Council 140 years ago that “the difficulties of a litigant in India begin when he has obtained a decree.”
“A somewhat similar fate seems to await government servants – on getting retired, they have to struggle for the due pension. This is a classic case of a railway employee who retired as a train examiner on 31st March, 1991, and his pension woes are being decided after 27 years and unfortunately not in his favour. “We recommend to the Department of Personnel and Training of the Government of India to try and make life after retirement easier for a government servant by having appropriate legislation enacted by Parliament or applicable Pension Rules rather than a ‘khichdi’ of Instructions, Office Memoranda, Clarifications, Corrigenda and so on and so forth,” the bench said.
The bench was hearing an appeal filed by the Centre against the Madras High Court order, which had allowed the plea of R Sethumadhavan, who retired from the post of train examiner, railways in 1991 and sought enhancement of pension as per the 5th Pay Commission. The bench set aside the high court order.
Sethumadhavan retired from the post of train examiner in 1991 with a pay scale of Rs 1,400-2,300 and after the 5th Central Pay Commission was implemented in 1996, the replacement scale for the post of train examiner (which was apparently abolished) became Rs 4,500-7,000, the apex court noted. Seeking modification of his pension, Sethumadhavan moved the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) claiming that the post of train examiner was re-designated as junior engineer grade-II and the revised pay for the post was recommended by the 5th Central Pay Commission which made a difference of about Rs 5,00 per month in his pension entitlement.
However, the CAT on October 31, 2011, decided the matter against him and took the view that he had held that his pension could not be on par with the pay scale of a junior engineer grade-II. He then approached the Madras High Court in 2013, which in 2016 reversed the CAT’s order and allowed his writ petition. The top court, however, observed that the tribunal was right in observing that the situation is squarely covered by the decision of this court in a similar matter and the high court erred in assuming that the post of train examiner was re-designated as junior engineer grade-II.