21 Sep 2023 5:40 AM GMT
The Supreme Court recently ruled that unauthorized resignation from government service for another government job will result in the forfeiture of past service and pension benefits. The ruling came in the case of a security officer(respondent), who had resigned from the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) in 1998 to join Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). It is important to note that...
The Supreme Court recently ruled that unauthorized resignation from government service for another government job will result in the forfeiture of past service and pension benefits.
The ruling came in the case of a security officer(respondent), who had resigned from the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) in 1998 to join Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). It is important to note that the the Central Civil Service Pension Rules, 1972(CCPS Rules) apply to government servants who were appointed before 2003.
The Court referred to its earlier decision in Union of India v. Braj Nandan Singh (2005) 8 SCC 325, where held that Rule 26 of the CCS Pension Rules expressly says that resigning from a government service for another post, without obtaining due permission, would lead to the forfeiture of service.
The Court noted that the respondent had asked for permission to apply but it was not granted. It held that appearing for an interview and taking up a new job without getting permission would bar him from getting any pension benefit as clearly mentioned in Rule 26(CCPS Rules).
It observed, “In this case, although the respondent did seek permission from his employer to apply for the opening in HAL, such permission was not forthcoming. In the meantime, the respondent applied directly, appeared in the selection process availing leave despite denial of permission, and then took up the new assignment. The circumstances here would show that the present case is squarely covered by sub-rule (2) of Rule 26 of CCS Pension Rules.
In such circumstances, we are of the considered view that the High Court erred in granting relief to the respondent by ordering that his resignation shall not entail forfeiture of past service. The reading of the applicable statutory provision does not warrant an interpretation that will enure to the benefit of an incumbent merely because he applies directly when such application is not supported by due permission of the competent authority.”
The bench comprising Justices Hrishikesh Roy and Justice Pankaj Mithal was hearing an appeal against a division bench of the HC that had granted relief to the respondent by holding that resignation would not result in forfeiture of past service.
The present matter is related to the claim for pension benefits by the respondent from his previous employer Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) where he resigned in 1998 and joined the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL). In 1999, the appellants(employer) noted that the respondent had not applied for employment through proper channels with due permission. He applied directly to the HAL in his private capacity. Therefore, as per the CCPS Rules, he was not entitled to monthly pension retirement/service gratuity for his service in the CISF.
The respondent approached the HC which allowed the pension benefits for the period(1985-1998) served by him observing that he had submitted an application to CISF for permission to apply for an opening in HAL. In fact, there was a delay by CISF in processing this application. Then, the matter went to the Division Bench which held that the respondent had directly applied for the post in the HAL thinking that permission would be given. However, there was no intention by the respondent to hide the fact that he was seeking another job with HAL as a security officer.
Aggrieved by this decision, the appellant approached the Supreme Court.
Advocate K. Parmeshwar appearing for the appellants contended that the respondent was a member of a security organization and therefore he could not have applied for a job in another organization without permission from the competent authority. He submitted that NOC was denied to him. He further contended the respondent did not inform the employer about his intention to attend an interview at HAL . Therefore, Rule 26 of CCPS, 1972 would be applicable and the respondent won’t be entitled to any pension.
On the other hand, Advocate Girish Ananthamurthy on behalf of the respondent argued that he had applied to his Commandant for permission to apply for the job of Security Officer in HAL. He submitted that the respondent kept his employer in the loop about the application and also informed them of the scheduled viva voce by seeking permission once again to appear in the interview.
The court took note of the relevant statutory rule which may be reproduced as follows-
Rule 26- Forfeiture of service on resignation
(2) A resignation shall not entail forfeiture of past service if it has been submitted to take up, with proper permission, another appointment, whether temporary or permanent, under the Government where service qualifies.”
The Court referred to the precedent set by the Apex Court in Union of India v. H. R. Vijaya Kumar (2011), where in a similar matter, the court had set aside the High Court's judgment favoring the respondent and directed the Division Bench of the High Court to reexamine the matter in accordance with the law.
The Court finally held that “it is seen that the Court failed to consider the implication of sub-Rule (2) of Rule 26 of the CCS Pension Rules. If the relevant Rules, were to be considered, the only reasonable conclusion would have been that the writ petitioner would be disentitled to relief. Accordingly, the appeal is allowed.”
Case Title : Case title: Union of India v. H.R. Vijaya Kumar, Civil Appeal No. 7351/2013
Citation : 2023 LiveLaw (SC) 807
Click here to read the order