Pension is succour for post-retirement period and it is not a bounty payable at will, but a social welfare measure as a post-retirement entitlement to maintain the dignity of the employee, the Supreme Court on Wednesday said.
The top court said that pension facilitates a retired Government employee to live with dignity in his winter of life and, thus, such benefit should not be unreasonably denied to an employee, more so on technicalities.
Coming to the rescue of a man claiming his entitlement for the past 13-years despite having worked with government departments for 32 years, a bench headed by Justices S K Kaul ordered the Kerala government to include the period of service rendered by him as casual workers for determining his pensionary benefits.
“Pension is succour for post-retirement period. It is not a bounty payable at will, but a social welfare measure as a post-retirement entitlement to maintain the dignity of the employee. The appellant has been claiming his entitlement for the last almost 13 years but unsuccessfully, despite having worked with Government departments in various capacities for about 32 years,” the bench said.
It said “the benefit of the service rendered as a Casual Labour Roll (CLR) worker would, thus, be liable to be counted for determining the pensionary benefits of the appellant at par with other CLR workers and the pension be accordingly calculated”.
The bench also comprising Justices Ajay Rastogi and Aniruddha Bose said that the arrears of pension be remitted to the appellant within a maximum period of eight weeks from today with admissible interest as applicable to outstanding pension amounts.
The bench settled the dispute which remained pending in the top court for nearly a decade since 2010 while emphasising that the pensionary provisions must be given a liberal construction as a social welfare measure.
“This does not imply that something can be given contrary to rules, but the very basis for grant of such pension must be kept in mind, i.e., to facilitate a retired Government employee to live with dignity in his winter of life and, thus, such benefit should not be unreasonably denied to an employee, more so on technicalities,” the bench said.
The controversy arose as former Kerala government employee V Sukumaran, worked in two departments in different capacities after joining the service as a casual worker in 1976.Sukumaran worked for around seven years till 1983 as a casual worker in the fisheries department and later joined the revenue department as lower division clerk after participating in a direct recruitment process.
After serving in the revenue department for a few years he sought an inter-departmental transfer back to the fisheries department and returned to Thiruvananthapuram and joined on September 18, 1987 on probation of two years with the service being subsequently regularised on September 18, 1989.He superannuated as Upper Division Clerk on attaining the age of superannuation on December 31, 2008 after serving the total service of about 25 years, excluding the initial service rendered as casual worker.
In 2006, Sukumaran made a representation to the Assistant Director of the Fisheries Department for passing orders to treat his period of casual worker service of more than seven years as qualifying service for pension.
However, the State Government did not accept the recommendation of the Fisheries Department and rejected the representation of Sukumaran in 2007 saying the benefit could not be extended to him as Kerala Public Service Commission (KPSC) in the revenue department.
He approached the High Court in 2009, which rejected his petition on the ground that he was appointed by KPSC and his period as casual worker could not be counted.