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"No Interest Would Be Payable By The 5 Female Naval Officers On Excess Component Of Terminal Gratuity In Lieu Of Payment Of DCRG"- Supreme Court In Annie Nagaraja Case

Mehal Jain
9 Sep 2021 2:06 PM GMT
No Interest Would Be Payable By The 5 Female Naval Officers On Excess Component Of Terminal Gratuity In Lieu Of Payment Of DCRG- Supreme Court In Annie Nagaraja Case
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"Let us not recover the interest. These are officers who have served the nation. You were also in the army", remarked Justice Chandrachud to Senior Advocate Balasubramanian.

"This is what Article 142 is for- to smooth over the rough edges of the law", said the Supreme Court on Thursday in directing, inter alia, that no interest would be payable on the excess component of Terminal Gratuity to be refunded by 5 female SCC naval officers in lieu of the payment of the Death-Cum-Retirement Gratuity to them.The bench of Justices D. Y. Chandrachud, Vikram Nath and Hima...

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"This is what Article 142 is for- to smooth over the rough edges of the law", said the Supreme Court on Thursday in directing, inter alia, that no interest would be payable on the excess component of Terminal Gratuity to be refunded by 5 female SCC naval officers in lieu of the payment of the Death-Cum-Retirement Gratuity to them.

The bench of Justices D. Y. Chandrachud, Vikram Nath and Hima Kohli was hearing a set of Miscellaneous Applications arising from the 2020 decision of the Supreme Court in Annie Nagaraja's case (on consideration of women SCC officers in the navy for grant of Permanent Commission). By the directions of the Court in the said judgment, the applicants (Respondents 2-6 in the 2020 matter) were granted 2 specific reliefs, having regard to the fact that since they were released from service prior to 2008 and had been out of service for 12 years, they were not reinstated by the interim order in favour of those who were released after September 26, 2008.
The first relief was that these officers who were released prior to 2008 after completing their engagement should be deemed to have completed substantive pensionable service and to have qualified for the grant of pension, on the basis that they have fulfilled the minimum qualifying service in a substantive capacity.
The second relief was that in addition to the grant of pensionary benefits, as a one-time measure, respondents 2 to 6 should be directed to be paid a lump sum amount of Rs. 25 lakhs each as a compensatory measure for lost years of service and the serious injustice which has been meted out to them.
The bench recorded on Thursday that the specific grievances of the applicants were-
1. The date of release was taken to be on completion of 14 years of service and not 20 years, for the purpose of payment of pension;
2. No arrears of pension was granted;
3. TG was sought to be recovered with interest;
4. DCRG was calculated for 14 years of service and not 20;
5. No commutation of pension was given;
6. Increments have not been taken into account for computing the applicable pension; the officers are entitled to notional increments based on lost wages they were entitled to on the completion of 20 years' service.
Senior Advocate R. Balasubramanian, for the Union of India, told the bench,
"The compensation of Rs. 25 lakh was paid on December 23, 2020. The other grievance is that they wanted the DCRG, which is meant for the person retired from service. SSC officers get TG. The calculations are different- while TG is at the rate of half month's salary for every 6 months of service, DCRG is one-fourth of a month's pay for every 6 months. That is why the recovery is being made. The excess paid towards TG has to be recovered from the officers"
"Then let us not recover interest. These are officers who have served the nation. You were also in the army", said Justice Chandrachud to Col. Balasubramanian.
"There will be 5000 similarly-placed officers. We are thinking of the financial burden on the government...The government is following DOPT Rules", said the senior advocate.
"That is what Article 142 is for! To smoothen the rough edges of the law", remarked Justice Chandrachud.
Issuing directions under Article 142 in the context of the specific facts of the 5 officers, the bench ordered-
1. For computing pensionary benefits, the 5 officers would be deemed to have completed 20 years' qualifying service.
2. Pension is to be calculated on the basis of the last-drawn salary had they continued to remain in service for 20 years.
3. Notional increments between the period of disengagement and completion of 20 years' qualifying service will be taken into account for computing the last-drawn salary.
4. Pension would be payable from the date they are deemed to have completed 20 years' service.
5. As a one-time measure, no interest would be liable to be paid by the 5 officers on the excess component of the TG to be refunded by them in lieu of the payment of the DCRG.
6. The DCRG is to be computed as if they have completed 20 years of service.
7. The case of the applicants is to be favourably considered for the computation of pension.
Case Title: Union Of India v. LD. CDR. Annie Nagaraja, Executive Officer

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