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HC dismisses 14 petitions of Union of India against CAT order granting dress allowance to MES employees

Before the CAT, the private respondents (MES Employees) had challenged the letter issued on November 15, 2019, and December 18, 2019, whereby the Defence Accounts Department decided to recover the amount of Dress Allowance paid to them, during the years 2017-18, 2018-19 and 2019-20.

By: Express News Service | Chandigarh |
October 24, 2021 2:27:20 am

The Punjab and Haryana High Court dismissed 14 appeals filed by the Union of India against the order of Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT), Chandigarh, wherein the plea of Military Engineer Services (MES) employees were allowed and they were held entitled to dress allowance. These employees included Fitter General Mechanic, Mate, Carpenter and Master Crafts Man, among others.

Before the CAT, the private respondents (MES Employees) had challenged the letter issued on November 15, 2019, and December 18, 2019, whereby the Defence Accounts Department decided to recover the amount of Dress Allowance paid to them, during the years 2017-18, 2018-19 and 2019-20.

It was the case of the employees that they were rightly given the benefit of dress allowance in terms of office memorandum dated August 31, 2017, issued by the Department of Personnel & Training (DoP&T) and letter dated August 2, 2018 issued by Ministry of Defence, Department of Expenditure, New Delhi.

The plea of the MES employees was thus allowed by the CAT, Chandigarh Bench, however, the Union of India had filed an appeal against the CAT order before the HC.

The counsel for the petitioners, Union of India, while assailing the CAT order submitted that the private respondents are not entitled to get any dress allowance as they do not wear any uniform.

While referring to office memorandum dated August 2, 2017, it was submitted that the private respondents who were industrial employees and working at MES, are not covered under the said office memorandum.

However, the authorities being under wrong impression, gave clarification dated June 5, 2018, and further clarification dated August 2, 2018, to the effect that the benefit of dress allowance may be extended to civilians of MES, including industrial personnel.

Further, the petitioners counsel contended that it being a factual mistake, it was later on rectified by the authorities and consequently impugned letters dated November 15, 2019 and November 18, 2019 were issued and the amount of dress allowance paid to the private respondents was ordered to be recovered, as they were not entitled to get the same.

The Division Bench of Justice Rajan Gupta and Justice Karamjit Singh held that it is a settled proposition that in case there was any mistake on the part of the government authorities, it can be corrected by following due process of law.

“It being so, if some benefit is given to the employees by the government authorities under mistake, the said benefit would subsist till the mistake is corrected. In the instant case, it appears that the Government authorities had not taken any conscious decision as per law, to withdraw clarifications dated June 5, 2018 and August 2, 2018, or to withdraw the benefit of dress allowance”, held the Bench.

Thus, not finding any illegality or perversity in the orders passed by the tribunal, the HC Bench dismissed the petitions being devoid of merits.

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