The Vacation Bench of the Supreme Court in State of West Bengal vs Aswini Kumar Mahato has held that an order of cut in pension was permissible after a person reached the age of superannuation. The Bench comprising of Justices A.K.Goel and A.M.Khanwilkar has allowed the Appeal filed by State of West Bengal against a Calcutta High Court order in which it was held that once an employee is allowed to retire on attaining the age of superannuation, the concerned authority has no jurisdiction to pass an order in a disciplinary proceeding since the master-servant relationship cannot exist after retirement.
It is argued on behalf of the state that under Rule 10(1) of the West Bengal Services (Death-cum-Retirement Benefit) Rules, 1971 pension can be withheld if either any pecuniary loss was caused by the concerned employee or the employee is found to be guilty of misconduct or negligence while in service. This, of course, is subject to the conditions contained in the proviso to Rule 10(1) of the Rules that the departmental proceeding is instituted while the employee is in service. In case such departmental proceedings were not initiated when the employee was in service, the conditions mentioned in Proviso (b) require sanction of the Governor. The alleged event should have taken place within four years of institution of the proceedings and the proceedings are to be conducted by such authority as may be directed by the Governor in accordance with the Rules.
Allowing the Appeal, the Supreme Court held that view taken by the High Court cannot be sustained as the decisions referred to in the order of the High Court have not been properly considered. There was no bar to the impugned order being passed after superannuation as the inquiry had already been initiated before retirement which could have been continued even after the retirement. The Bench has relied on State of West Bengal & Ors. v. Pronab Chakraborty, (2015) 2 SCC 496, where in similar fact situation, Supreme Court held that even after superannuation departmental proceedings could continue not only in case where pecuniary loss is caused but also in other cases referred to in the Rules i.e. “grave misconduct or negligence”.
Read the order here.