15 May 2023 6:30 AM GMT
Restraining the Centre from recovering the extra pension “erroneously” paid to an 80-year-old retired Sepoy, the Punjab and Haryana High Court said the recovery of some amount from the pension in installments of Rs. 3500 per month is not only illegal and perverse but also violative of the law laid down by the Supreme Court.The bench of Justice Jasgurpreet Singh Puri said the amount...
Restraining the Centre from recovering the extra pension “erroneously” paid to an 80-year-old retired Sepoy, the Punjab and Haryana High Court said the recovery of some amount from the pension in installments of Rs. 3500 per month is not only illegal and perverse but also violative of the law laid down by the Supreme Court.
The bench of Justice Jasgurpreet Singh Puri said the amount of recovery which has already been made from the petitioner prior to the interim order passed by the court shall be refunded to him forthwith alongwith interest @ 6% per annum within a period of three months.
The court was hearing the writ petition filed by the 80-year-old pensioner, who had retired as a Sepoy in 1974. After over 40 years of his retirement, the Union of India in 2019 detected a mistake in their own computer system. It was found by the government that the pension of the petitioner had been “erroneously fixed” since he was supposed to receive the pension as a reservist, but he had been given the service pension for the rank of Sepoy. Thereafter, the Union government had ordered to recover the amount from the petitioner in installments of Rs. 3500/- per month.
"... the petitioner was drawing service pension instead of reservist pension and his pension was erroneously fixed/revised by Asharaya System in view of various circulars by treating the pension as service pensioner instead of reservist pensioner because PEN type was erroneously inserted in the computer system as SER instead of RES and it was due to this mistake that the petitioner was getting over payment which was ultimately detected in the year 2019," the union government told the court.
The petitioner argued that recovering the extra amount paid to him by the “mistake of the Union” is violative of the law laid down by the Apex Court in State of Punjab and others vs. Rafiq Masih (White Washer).
The court noted that, “Union of India has owned its mistake” of fixing the amount erroneously. Observing that the law with regard to recovery from a pensioner is no longer res integra, the court said, “Supreme Court in State of Punjab and others Vs. Rafiq Masih discussed the entire issue and observed that especially from Category-C and D employees no recovery can be effected after the retirement”.
The case of the petitioner falls in Category-(i) and (ii) and therefore the prayer of the petitioner is squarely covered in his favour, the court said.
"The action of the respondents-Union of India in ordering recovery of some amount from the pension of the petitioner in installments of Rs. 3500/- per month is not only illegal and perverse but also violative of the law laid down by the Hon'ble Supreme Court in State of Punjab and others Vs. Rafiq Masih.” it added.
While ordering the refund of the amount recovered from the petitioner, the court said, “in case the aforesaid amount is not paid within three months from today, then the petitioner shall be entitled for a future rate of interest @ 9% per annum instead of 6% per annum”.
Considering the petitioner's old age and illegal action of the Centre, the court also imposed a cost on the Union Government stating that,“the petitioner shall also be entitled for costs which are assessed at Rs. 25,000/-which shall also be paid to the petitioner within a period of three months from today.”
Case title: Kashmir Singh v.Union of India and others
Citation: 2023 LiveLaw (PH) 85
Appearances: Sumit Dua, Advocate, for the petitioner.
Sonia Sharma, Advocate, for respondents No. 1 and 2.
Naren Partap Singh, Advocate, for respondent No.3.
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