Pension is not a bounty payable at will, but a social welfare measure as a post-retirement entitlement to maintain the dignity of the employee, remarked the Supreme Court in a judgment today.
Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul led three judge bench observed that the pensionary provisions must be given a liberal construction as a social welfare measure.
V. Sukumaran, the appellant before the Court, joined the Department of Fisheries of the State Government of Kerala as a Casual Labour Roll worker on 7.7.1976. He worked there upto 29.11.1983 rendering 7 years, 4 months and 23 days of service as a CLR worker. District Officer, Kerala Public Service Commission advised him to join the Revenue Department, Kannur District as Lower Division Clerk, which he did. He was subsequently regularised on 18.9.1989 and later got promotion as Upper Division Clerk (Higher Grade). He retired on attaining the age of superannuation on 31.12.2008. He filed a writ petition claiming pensionary benefits he was to receive at the time of retirement with the prayer that his service as a CLR worker from 7.7.1976 to 29.11.1983 be counted as 8 years of qualifying service for pension, His writ petition was dismissed by the High court
While considering his appeal, the bench, also comprising Justices Ajay Rastogi and Aniruddha Bose observed that that the pensionary provisions must be given a liberal construction as a social welfare measure. The court observed:
"This does not imply that something can be given contrary to rules, but the very basis for grant of such pension must be kept in mind, i.e., to facilitate a retired Government employee to live with dignity in his winter of life and, thus, such benefit should not be unreasonably denied to an employee, more so on technicalities.".
The judgment in this case began with these observations:
"Pension is succour for post-retirement period. It is not a bounty payable at will, but a social welfare measure as a post-retirement entitlement to maintain the dignity of the employee. The appellant has been claiming his entitlement for the last almost 13 years but unsuccessfully, despite having worked with Government departments in various capacities for about 32 years."
Taking note of the relevant Service rules in this regard, the bench held that the benefit of the service rendered as a CLR worker would be liable to be counted for determining the pensionary benefits of the appellant at par with other CLR workers. The court also directed the state to remit the arrears of pension to him within eight weeks.
V. SUKUMARAN vs. STATE OF KERALA
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 3984 OF 2010
Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul, Ajay Rastogi and Aniruddha Bose
Sr.Adv. K.P. Kylasanatha Pillay, AOR A. Venayagam Balan for Appellants;
AOR Nishe Rajen Shonker, AOR Jogy Scaria for respondents