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Wednesday, March 18, 2015
BONANZA FOR RETIRED ARMED FORCES’ PERSONNEL - SC: Pension can’t be less than 50% of pay
In a bonanza to retired employees of the armed forces, the Supreme Court today directed the Centre to pay at least 50 per cent of the pay as pension to all of them as recommended by the 6th Central Pay Commission (CPC).
A Bench headed by Justice TS Thakur passed the order while dismissing about 50 appeals filed by the Centre challenging the rulings of various high courts and armed forces tribunals (AFTs). The HCs and AFTs had struck down the office memorandums (OMs) assessing the pension amount at less than 50 per cent for some categories of pensioners.
Appearing for the Centre, Additional Solicitor General Pinky Anand had pleaded that payment of pension at 50 per cent or more would place an additional burden of Rs 1,500 crore. But the Bench said the pensioners were entitled to the CPC recommendations which had been accepted by the government.
They could not be denied of their dues just because some officials, who did not even have the authority to issue the OMs, had misinterpreted the recommendations, the Bench explained.
“We have already affirmed the orders of the HCs and AFTs” in a couple of cases earlier and there was no need for the Centre to come to the SC in each and every such case, the Bench said.
Today’s order should be implemented within four months extending the benefit to all those who were entitled to pension, irrespective of the fact whether they had gone to the AFT/court or not, the Bench clarified.
In one such case, the Delhi High Court had delivered its verdict on April 29, 2013, directing the Centre to ensure that pension was re-fixed at not lower than 50 per cent of the minimum of the pay in the band and the grade pay thereon. Arrears should be paid within two months and any delay would entail 9 per cent interest, it had ruled while dismissing a batch of Centre’s petitions. The HC had said it was in complete agreement with the reasoning of the Punjab and Haryana HC in similar cases.