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Minimum Qualifying Service Stipulated In Pension Rules Can't Be Ignored While Considering Claim For Invalid Pension: SC [Read Judgment]

Ashok Kini
5 Dec 2019 5:06 AM GMT
Minimum Qualifying Service Stipulated In Pension Rules Cant Be Ignored While Considering Claim For Invalid Pension: SC [Read Judgment]
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'Pension is earned by stint of continuity and longevity of service.'

The Supreme Court has observed that the minimum qualifying service prescribed under the Pension Rules cannot be ignored for the purpose of consideration of invalid pension. In this case, the Odisha Administrative Tribunal, and the High Court had held that the deceased employee's husband is entitled to invalid pension under Rule 39 of the Orissa Civil Services (Pension) Rules-...

The Supreme Court has observed that the minimum qualifying service prescribed under the Pension Rules cannot be ignored for the purpose of consideration of invalid pension.

In this case, the Odisha Administrative Tribunal, and the High Court had held that the deceased employee's husband is entitled to invalid pension under Rule 39 of the Orissa Civil Services (Pension) Rules- 1992.

In its appeal, the state contended that, on account of the short duration of service rendered by the deceased employee, he cannot be granted invalid pension under Rule 39 as the provision has to be conjointly read with Rule 47 and Rule 56 of the Pension Rules which specify the qualifying service of ten years and also the consequences for those who do not satisfy the eligibility criterion for qualifying service.

Therefore the issue considered by the Apex Court in State of Odisha vs. Manju Naik was whether the minimum qualifying service prescribed under the Pension Rules can be ignored for the purpose of consideration of invalid pension under Rule 39 of the Pension Rules.

The bench comprising Justice R. Banumathi, Justice AS Bopanna and Justice Hrishikesh Roy rejected the contention that invalid pension can be claimed under Rule 39 without satisfying the stipulated qualifying service mentioned in the same Rules. It said that the condition of qualifying service prescribed in the Pension Rules must be satisfied to become eligible for invalid pension. It observed:

"An employee becomes entitled to pension by stint of his long service for the employer and, therefore, it should be seen as a reward for toiling hard and long for the employer. The Pension Rules provide for a qualifying service of 10 years for such entitlement. When the question arises as to how certain provisions of the Pension Rules are to be understood, it would be appropriate to read the provision in its context which would mean reading the statute as a whole. In other words, a particular provision of the statute should be construed with reference to other provisions of the same statute so as to construe the enactment as a whole. It would also be necessary to avoid an interpretation which will involve conflict with two provisions of the same statute and effort should be made for harmonious construction. In other words, the provision of a Rule cannot be used to defeat another Rule unless it is impossible to effect reconciliation between them. Pension as already stated is earned by stint of continuity and longevity of service and minimum qualifying service should therefore be understood as the requirement for invalid pension as well. The Pension Rules can be harmoniously construed in this manner and in that event, there shall be no clash between different provisions in the said Rules"

In this case, the Court observed that the employee had served for lesser years then the 10 years qualifying service, was found entitled by his employers to service gratuity only, because of his premature retirement on the ground of mental incapacitation and this is what is prescribed by the Pension Rules. While allowing the appeal, the bench further observed:

"The respondent's husband had not served for ten years and was therefore, he disentitled for regular pension. For the same reason, he cannot also be held entitled to invalid pension. The different provisions of the Pension Rules cannot be read in isolation and must be construed harmoniously and the requirement of qualifying service cannot be said to be irrelevant for claiming different service benefits under the same Rules. " 

Click here to Read/Download Judgment




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