The Bombay High Court has castigated the Maharashtra government for withholding a man’s pension for more than two years, and said pension is a basic entitlement and retired employees cannot be deprived of it.
The court noted that such a “state of affairs was totally unconscionable”.
The observations were made during the hearing in a petition by one Jayram More, who worked as a ‘hamal’ (coolie) with the Savitribai Phule Pune University from 1983 to May 2021. He had sought that the government be directed to release his pension amount. More contended that he was not being paid the pension despite submitting all necessary documents by the university to the concerned department of the state government.
The court noted that despite More having rendered a meritorious and unblemished service, he was not paid pension on untenable and technical grounds for a period of two years from his retirement.
“From the beginning of the present proceedings, we were wondering as to whether any person who superannuates after a long unblemished service should at all suffer such a plight, after having rendered a long service and be deprived of basic entitlement of pension, being the very source of livelihood," a division bench of Justices GS Kulkarni and Jitendra Jain said on November 21.
'Pension is right'
Referring to a 40-year-old Supreme Court judgment, the HC said the antiquated notion of pension being a bounty, a gratuitous payment depending upon the sweet will or grace of the employer and not claimable as a right, was held as wrong.
It added: “In such a decision, the Supreme Court had authoritatively ruled that pension is a right and payment of it does not depend on the discretion of the government and would be governed by the rules.”
Lamenting that large number of people were approaching the HC seeking release of the pension, the bench said that it appears that the SC order was “more forgotten than applied and implemented in its true spirit”.
Bench call the case an 'eye-opener'
Earlier, the HC had said that More had suffered for three years and directed the government to release his pension in four weeks and sought compliance.
During the hearing on Tuesday, when the bench was informed that More’s arrears had been released, it disposed of the plea and said that his monthly pension should be paid regularly without any default.
Calling the case an “eye-opener”, the bench said that if government officers promptly consider the staffs’ grievances of its staff, then there would be no need for them to approach the HC.