Supreme Court dismisses Punjabs special leave petition; calls for details of 2,790 pending cases
Denial of retiral benefits to a Class III employee by the Punjab government seems to have opened a Pandoras box. The Supreme Court has not only dismissed Punjabs Special Leave Petition (SLP) challenging the Punjab and Haryana High Court verdict allowing retiral benefits to the aggrieved retired employee Karnail Singh but also called for the complete details of the status,period and reason for delay in all those cases of government employees,who have not been given retiral benefits even a long time after their attaining superannuation.
Complying with the Apex Courts January 28 order,the state government admitted that as many as 2,790 government employees of different ranks and 66 departments were still awaiting pension and other benefits after their retirement.
As per admission,the government was sitting on retiral benefits of its employees for as long as 22 years and also many retired employees had already died without getting pension and other benefits.
Citing various reasons like pending court litigation,criminal cases,departmental inquiries and various objections,the government admitted that employees of Gurdaspur Deputy Commissioners office and Revenue,Rehabilitation and Disaster Management were awaiting pension for 22 years,those of Punjab State Power Corporation Limited for 19 years; Food,Civil Supply and Consumer Affairs for over 17 years; Dairy Development for 16 years,several teachers for over 15 years and hundreds of employees from various departments who were not paid retiral benefits up to 15 years after retirement.
In a comprehensive affidavit annexed with 244 pages,Secretary to Punjab Department of Pensions and Welfare of Pensioners,HIS Grewal,submitted that the matter is being given top priority,utmost seriousness and strict directions have been issued to all the Administrative Secretaries to decide the pending cases expeditiously.
The affidavit will come up before the Supreme Court on February 21,the next date of hearing in the case. On January 28,the SC division bench,comprising Justice GS Singhvi and Justice Asok Kumar Ganguly,had taken on record an affidavit filed by Secretary,Personnel,BS Sudan,which was not found satisfactory.
Earlier,the SC had also sought similar information from Punjab and Haryana High Court Registrar General,who had submitted that as many as 766 writ petitions and 106 regular second appeals were pending before the HC in relation to the claim of employees for grant of retiral benefits. Two such cases were of 1989 while a few were of 1990 and 1999.
It was on November 26 that the SC had dismissed Punjabs SLP while observing,Punjab is known for indulging in frivolous litigation involving low paid employees. This SLP is one such price of litigation in which legality of the order passed by HC single judge directing payment of pension to respondent has been challenged.
We regretfully note that employees and officers of different cadres are forced to litigate in the court by spending their hard earned money for vindication of their legal and constitutional rights for payment of retiral dues, the SC Judges had noted.