Financial Difficulty Not A Ground To Restrain The Pension Benefits Of Retired Employee: Punjab and Haryana HC [Read Judgment]
The employer's financial instability is not a valid ground to suppress the pension benefits of a retired employee as the pension is the only source of livelihood for a pensioner to live a dignified life after retirement held by Punjab and Haryana High Court.
The petitioner who served as Inspector in Municipal Council, Abohar has raised contention that she retired at the age of superannuation and entitled for the retirement benefits which was delayed by the respondents without any valid justification and paid incomplete pension without gratuity and leave encashment after five years of her retirement.
The petitioner argued that she is entitled for interest on the said delayed payments keeping in view of judgment given by this court in A.S Randhawa v. State of Punjab.
She has further stated that she had earlier approached the High Court through writ petition where court directed the respondent to pay her all benefits without any delay. In pursuance of this court direction, the respondent passed an order where they admitted that they could not release all the pensionary benefits due to financial instability and 'paucity of funds'. They also admitted that leave encashment and gratuity has not been paid to the appellant.
The High Court observed that the Division Bench has already laid down the precedent in Ram Karan v. Managing Director, Pepsu Road Transport Corporation and another that financial instability is not a valid argument to derail the life of a retired employee as the pension is the only source of living which he/she is entitled to live a dignified life.
The court stated that under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution where life is interpreted as a dignified life where mere existence not enough but to enjoy the facilities, proper living condition with adequate standard of life which a person is entitled to. It is the duty of the state to preserve these human rights of a citizen by taking appropriate steps to ensure the recognition of these fundamental rights.
On Article 21 the Supreme Court of India laid down in Chameli Singh v. State of U.P. 1996(2) SCC 549 that-
"In any organised society right to live as a human being is not ensured by meeting only the animal needs of man. It is secured only when he is assured of all facilities to develop himself and is freed from restrictions which inhibit his growth. All human rights are designated to achieve this object. Right to live guaranteed in any civilised society implies to right to food, water, decent environment, education,medial care and shelter. These are basic human rights known to any civilised society".
The fundamental question of standard of living and a dignified life interpreted in many landmark judgments pronounced by the Apex Court, where right to shelter is a guaranteed right and state is under obligation to provide the shelter to the citizens. In this case the financial uncertainty is the main ground in violation of the fundamental right of the petitioner and on this issue Supreme Court in cases like Municipal Council, Ratlam, (1980)4 S.C.C. 163, B.L Wadhera v. Union of India, All India Imam Organisation and Ors. v. Union of India and Ors., Kapila Hingorani v. State of Bihar. All India Organisation's case already laid down the principle that "Financial stringency may not be a ground for not issuing requisite directions when a question of violation of fundamental rights arises and Financial difficulties of the institution cannot be above the fundamental right of a citizen".
The Court has allowed interest @ 9% per annum from the date of which amount was due. The court directed the respondents to paid the said amount within the period of two months after this order.