Attorney General for India submits a sealed cover envelope stating the decision of Defence Ministry on the payment of pension.
Monday, March 20, 2023
Bar & Bench Live today (20.3.2023) : OROP case before the Supreme Court
CJI DY Chandrachud: Please share the sealed cover with opposite side or take him to the chamber. We WANT TO PUT AN END TO THE SEALED COVER BUSINESS BEING FOLLOWED BY THE SUPREME COURT SINCE HGH COURT FOLLOWS IT ALSO.
CJI DY Chandrachud: I am personally averse to sealed covers. There has to be transparency in court. This is about implementing the orders . What can be the secrecy here. You must give a copy to the other side. Sealed covers are completely against settled judicial principles and it can be resorted to only when it is about a source or endangering someone's life. Not otherwise.
AG: Please see the report...CJI: We understand your difficulty but we need to know the plan of action. If we follow sealed covers then HC follows it and there needs to be an end to it.
CJI: Sorry sorry we will not take this sealed cover. Please take it back or read it.
AG reads the report.
AG: Budget outlay is not able to meet this huge outflow at one go. Resource is limited and expense needs to be regulated.. finance ministry was taken into confidence and finance ministry has said it is unable to meet this outflow at one go.
CJI: Mr AG we got the long and short of it. Look at para 23.. there are 6 lakh family pensioners and gallantry award winners and you will be paying for it. 4 lakh pensioners above 70 will be July 31.. we will make this June 30. Then last tranche of installments by March 31, 2024.. we will make it first installment by Aug 31, then Nov 30 and Feb 28, 2025.
Sr Adv Huzefa Ahmadi: these installments were due in March 2019. They have served the country in best years of their life and now they are the last priority of the government.CJI: The fund is staggering..58,000 crores.. Ahmadi: it is part of their policy. CJI: We were not pleased by their suo motu letter but we cannot lose sight of the national interest also. CJI: Suppose we again say pay this by March 31.. and then again Centre comes and tells us we do not have the money. Look at the Ministry of Finance opinion also. Ahmadi: please see their circular which was issued.. where they said arrears will be cleared by March 31, 2023.
CJI: Oh then they cannot say no now. Ahmadi: please see the circular,.it shows they have the money but needs to prioritize. I am not being unreasonable CJI before discussing with his colleague: mic band hai na.. bench discusses.
AG: This is a live wire on the economy of the country. This will barren all equities.
CJI: By Jan 9, 2023, time was granted till March 15, 2023. AG has placed on record a note of compliance on behalf of Union of India..Mr Ahmadi has adverted to the fact that arrears was due on 2019 and time was given by this court. Circular was issued in Jan 2023 which indicates that defence ministry has taken steps .. the arrears are the range of 28,000 crores.
CJI: The budgetary outlay for defence ministry is 5.85 lakh crore and out of 1.32 lakh core is total planned pension disbursements. 1.2 lakh crore disbursed till february 2023 for 2022-23. the quantum of 28,000 crores which is being referred to above relates to the arrears which is an additional component. the note placed on record states that finance ministry was consulted and finance ministry has expressed their inability to provide it in one go and suggested a staggered payment.
CJI: While centre is bound to comply with the judgment of OROP scheme, at the same time while fixing a time schedule for payment and material placed on record now has significant bearing on the nature of order to be passed by this court. Centre has said out of 25 lakh pensioners, 4 lakh do not qualify for OROP since they now get higher pension and thus OROP is for 21 lakh. out of this 21 lakh, 6 lakh family pensioners and gallantry award winners will get it by April 30 since family pensioners have lost bread winners and due to the exceptional service of the gallantry award winners. Centre also proposes that pensioners above 70 years and are 4 lakh in numbers will be paid within 4-5 months. the last tranche of 10 to 12 lakh pensioners, the payment will be made in 3 installments till march 31, 2024.
CJI: We direct:
1. OROP to family pensioner and gallantry award winners in single installment - April 30, 2023.2. OROP to the ones above 70 years : June 30, 2023. Union shall either pay entire due at one installment or spread it within outer limit of June 30. 3. Last tranche of remaining ones will be paid in equal installments on or before: Aug 31, Nov 30, and Feb 28, 2024. AG has been specified that this will not have any effect on computation of dues for the purposes of the next equalisation.
Ahmadi: would you not consider any interest CJI: Let it be Ahmadi: 5 years delay.. in commercial matters it would have been imposed CJI: It is okay. Thank you.
(Source: Twitter a/c of Bar & Bench)