2 Sep 2023 3:30 AM GMT
The Bombay High Court recently imposed cost of Rs. 25,000/- on the Kolhapur Municipal Corporation for making a 73-year-old retired staff nurse to litigate for 15 years for her pension and pensionary benefits.Justice Sandeep V Marne dismissed a writ petition filed by the Commissioner of Kolhapur Municipal Corporation challenging Industrial Court’s order to deposit the pension amount due...
The Bombay High Court recently imposed cost of Rs. 25,000/- on the Kolhapur Municipal Corporation for making a 73-year-old retired staff nurse to litigate for 15 years for her pension and pensionary benefits.
Justice Sandeep V Marne dismissed a writ petition filed by the Commissioner of Kolhapur Municipal Corporation challenging Industrial Court’s order to deposit the pension amount due to Shashikala Vijay Bhore, a staff nurse who retired in 2008.
“This Court takes note of the conduct on the part of the Petitioner - Municipal Corporation, which is a public body and an ideal employer…Even though the termination/dismissal of Respondent was set aside by the Labour Court in the year 2010, she was denied pension and pensionary benefit. She was made to litigate before the Industrial Court in revision as well as this Court in Writ Petition…Having attained the age of superannuation on 30 June 2008, the Respondent would be at an advanced age of about 73 years. She is made to survive without payment of any pension. For this conduct on the part of the Petitioner - Municipal Corporation, it is required to saddled with costs while dismissing the present Petition”, the court held.
The order dated January 3, 2022, directed the municipal corporation to deposit in the court the pension payable to Bhore from the date of her retirement on June 30, 2008. In 2000, Bhore was terminated for unauthorized absence. She challenged this before the Labour Court and retired during the pendency of those proceedings. Her termination was set aside by the Labour Court in 2010, and she was deemed to have retired from service as a regular employee. The Labour Court directed the municipal corporation to pay her back wages from the date of termination till the date of superannuation. The corporation’s revision petition was dismissed in 2016. Its writ petition filed in 2016 before the High Court was also dismissed.
Bhore filed a recovery application Labour Court in 2016 claiming back wages, pension, gratuity & suspension allowances etc. The complaint was partly allowed by the Labour Court in 2018, holding that the 2010 Labour court order did not award suspension allowance, pension, gratuity, leave salary etc. A recovery certificate only in respect of back wages of Rs. 12,81,208/- was issued to her.
Bhore again approached the Labour Court in 2020 seeking pension and pensionary benefits. In January 2022, the Industrial Court partly allowed her complaint directing the Municipal Corporation to deposit pension payable from July 01, 2008 till December 2021 in the Court. Aggrieved by this order, the Kolhapur Municipal Corporation filed the present Writ Petition.
Advocate Abhijit Adagule for the petitioner contended that the Industrial Court lacked jurisdiction to entertain Bhore’s complaint for pension and pensionary benefits as non-payment of pension is not covered under Schedule IV of the Maharashtra Recognition of Trade Unions and Prevention of Unfair Labour Practices Act, 1971 (MRTU and PULP Act). He further submitted that Bhore, being governed by the provisions of the Maharashtra Civil Services (Pension) Rules, 1982, could not have approached the Industrial Court.
Advocate Jayashree Tripathi for Bhore submitted that Bhore was permanent employee of the Kolhapur Municipal Corporation and having retired on attaining the age of superannuation is entitled to pension and other pensionary benefits. She further submitted that Bhore’s complaint against termination was entertained by the Labour Court, and the municipal corporation challenged the order up to the High Court. Thus, the municipal corporation cannot now question the jurisdiction of the Industrial Court.
The court held that since Bhore's dismissal was overturned, once she retired, she became entitled to pension and pensionary benefits under the Pension Rules. The court noted that Item 9 of the Schedule IV to the MRTU and PULP Act enlists unfair labour practice of failure to implement an award. Once Labour court passed an order setting aside her termination, the Municipal Corporation should have granted her pension and other pensionary benefits, the court reasoned. In that sense, the non-payment of pension would be covered by Item 9, the court said.
The court opined that if Bhore were not a workman, either the Industrial Tribunal of the High Court would have set aside the Labour Court’s 2010 order. The court further held that merely because Bhore erroneously claimed pension in her recovery application, it would not destroy her lawful right to receive pension which is guaranteed under the Pension Rules.
The court dismissed the writ petition and upheld the order directing the municipal corporation to pay Bhore's pension and pensionary benefits, along with costs amounting to Rs. 25,000.
Case no. – Writ Petition No. 13641 of 2022
Case Title – Commissioner, Kolhapur Mahanagarpalika v. Shashikala Vijay Bhore
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