At, High Court of Judicature at Madras
By, THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE K.N. BASHA
For the Petitioner: Ms. R. Gouri, Advocate. For the Respondents: R1 to R4 - Ms. V.M. Velumani, Special Government Pleader, R5 - V. Vijayashankar, Advocate.
(Prayer:Writ petition filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India praying for a writ of Certiorarified Mandamus calling for the records relating to the order Rc.No.Pen(CZ)/165/11734/09 dated 24.02.2010 passed by the third respondent and quash the same and consequently direct the respondents to pay interest and penal interest at the rate of 12% as per the working contained in the petitioner's representation dated 01.03.2010 for the delay of payment of salary as well as pension and gratuity after the petitioner's retirement.)
1. The challenge in this writ petition is to the order passed by the third respondent dated 24.02.2010 in Rc.No.Pen(CZ)/165/11734/09 rejecting the representation of the petitioner seeking for the relief of payment of interest for the belated payment and settlement of terminal benefits.
2.0. The case of the petitioner is that he had been recruited as Police Constable Grade II in 1960, promoted as Head Constable in 1973, promoted as Assistant Sub Inspector in 1979 and further promoted as Sub Inspector in 1984 and reached the position of Inspector of Police in 1995. He was having unblemished record of service.
2.1. The petitioner was served with the charge memo alleging that he had acquired and disposed of se
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eral movable and immovable properties during the period between 1972 and 1986 without obtaining prior permission or intimating to the concerned authorities. It is further alleged in the charges that he was found in possession of the assets disproportionate to his known source of income during the period from 1982 to 1992. Pursuant to the charge memo, disciplinary proceedings were initiated and he was awarded with the punishment of dismissal from service with effect from 26.05.2000 and reduction in pay by two stages from two years with cumulative effect.2.2. The petitioner challenged the order of award of punishment by preferring O.A.Nos.6559/2000 and 6560/2000 before the Tamil Nadu Administrative Tribunal. The Tribunal allowed the applications and set aside the punishment awarded on the petitioner by the order dated 17.04.2003 and further held that the petitioner is entitled for full wages from the date of dismissal till the date of his retirement and the pay at the time of retirement shall be fixed and pension also accordingly shall be fixed and the petitioner was deemed to have retired with effect from 31.05.2000. In spite of his request and representation, the petitioner was not paid with the terminal benefits including pension.2.3. After a lapse of five years, the Department filed a writ petition in W.P.No.10224 of 2008 before this Court challenging the order of the Tribunal dated 17.04.2003 and this Court dismissed the said writ petition on the ground of delay and laches. After the dismissal of the above said writ petition by this Court, the Home department through its proceedings dated 30.04.2009 directed the authorities to implement the order of the Tamil Nadu Administrative Tribunal. Pursuant to the said order, the Commissioner of Police, Chennai, by his proceedings dated 01.07.2009 ordered that the petitioner is deemed to have retired from service on 31.05.2000 with all retirement benefits.2.4. Finally, the petitioner received an amount of Rs.13,41,615/- being the pension, arrears of gratuity and the terminal benefits through the department. The petitioner made several representations including a representation dated 09.02.2010 narrating the sequence of events and requested to sanction interest at the rate of 12% for the sum of Rs.13,41,615/- from 01.07.2000 to 18.01.2010 for the delayed payment of his entire retirement benefits. Thereafter, the Joint Commissioner of Police, Central Zone, Chennai/the third respondent, by his proceedings dated 24.02.2010 rejected the petitioner's request merely stating that there are no precedents for paying interest to payments made as requested by the petitioner due to administrative reasons. Being aggrieved against the said order, the present writ petition is filed by the petitioner.3. Ms.R.Gouri, learned counsel appearing for the petitioner, would mainly contend that the third respondent passed the impugned order arbitrarily and in a mechanical fashion without assigning any valid reasons. It is contended that the impugned order is not only a non-speaking order, but also the said order was passed without considering the facts of the case. It is pointed out by the learned counsel for the petitioner that the punishment awarded to the petitioner including the major punishment of dismissal from service were set aside by the Tamil Nadu Administrative Tribunal as early as on 17.04.2003 by a common order and that too with a specific finding and direction to the respondents to the effect that the petitioner was deemed to have been in continuous service and he was deemed to have retired with effect from 31.05.2000 and also observing that the petitioner is entitled to get all the attendant benefits. It is pointed out that the said order of the Tribunal was challenged by the respondents only in the year 2008 and this Court dismissed the said writ petition on the ground of delay and laches. The learned counsel further contended that in view of such inordinate delay in disbursing the monetary benefits including the retiral benefits to the petitioner, the petitioner is entitled to seek the relief of interest for such belated payment of pension and other retiral benefits.4. Per contra, Ms.V.M.Velumani, learned Special Government Pleader would contend that there is no infirmity or illegality in the impugned order passed by the third respondent. It is contended that the petitioner himself submitted his application only in the year 2009, namely, on 07.07.2009 and on receipt of the said petition, immediate action was taken for settlement of terminal benefits. It is pointed out by the learned Special Government Pleader that in the counter, it is stated by the third respondent that the petitioner submitted pension papers only on 07.07.2009 and in view of the filing of the writ petition by the department, which was ultimately dismissed on 24.04.2008, the process commenced only from 07.07.2009, i.e., the date on which, the petitioner submitted his pension paper. Therefore, it is contended that there is no willful delay in disbursing the monetary benefits to the petitioner and as such, the petitioner is not entitled to seek any interest for the said belated payment.5. Heard the learned counsel for the fifth respondent on the submission of the learned counsel for the petitioner and the learned Special Government Pleader for the respondents 1 to 4.6. This Court carefully considered the rival contentions put forward by either side and scrutinized the entire materials available on record and also perused the impugned order passed by the third respondent herein.7. The undisputed fact remains that the punishment awarded against the petitioner, namely, major punishment of dismissal from service was set aside by the Tamil Nadu Administrative Tribunal by a common order dated 17.04.2003 in O.A.Nos.6559 of 2000 and 6560 of 2000. The Tribunal also made a specific observation to the effect that the petitioner was deemed to have been retired from service with effect from 31.05.2000 and he is entitled to seek all the retiral benefits. Such being the admitted factor, the respondents ought to have settled the monetary benefits soon after the order of the Tamil Nadu Administrative Tribunal on 17.04.2003. It is very unfortunate to note that the respondents have not raised their little finger for a period of five years. Thereafter, suddenly, the respondents 1 to 4 thought it fit to file a writ petition in W.P.No.10224 of 2008 challenging the order of the Tribunal, But the writ petition filed before this Court was dismissed on 24.04.2008 on the ground of delay and laches. Even after the dismissal of the said writ petition, no action was taken by the respondents for settling the lawful entitlement of the pensionary and other retiral benefits to the petitioner and there is absolutely no reasonable explanation forthcoming from the respondents for such an inordinate delay.8. The fact remains that the oral representations having proved futile, the petitioner preferred a written representation and only thereafter, the respondents started processing the pension proposal that too in the year 2009. A perusal of the impugned order reveals that the representation of the petitioner dated 07.07.2009 was rejected by merely stating that there are no precedents for paying the interests to payments made as requested by the petitioner due to administrative reasons. It is stated in the impugned order that the request to sanction the terminal benefits was received in the office of the third respondent only on 07.07.2009 and on receipt of the said petition, action was taken for settlement of terminal benefits. At the risk of repetition, it is to be reiterated that the third respondent admitted that steps have been taken to process the settlement of terminal benefits to the petitioner only after the receipt of his representation dated 07.07.2009. In my considered opinion, the impugned order is nothing but a cryptic and non-speaking order.9. A perusal of the counter filed by the third respondent does not disclose any valid reason for such an inordinate delay for disbursing the terminal benefits to the petitioner. It is merely stated even in the counter that steps have been taken to settle the retiral benefits only after the receipt of the representation made by the petitioner dated 07.07.2009. There is absolutely no explanation whatsoever forthcoming from the third respondent for the inordinate delay of five years from the date of order passed by the Tribunal on 17.04.2003 as the respondents 1 to 4 preferred the writ petition only in the year 2008.10. At this juncture, it is relevant to refer a decision of the Hon'ble Apex Court in S.K.DuaVs. State of Haryana reported in 2008 (3) SCC 44. The Hon’ble Apex Court in the said decision has held as hereunder :“14. In the, prima facie, we are of the view that the grievance voiced by the appellant appears to be well founded that he would be entitled to interest on such benefits. If there are statutory rules occupying the field, the appellant could claim payment of interest relying on such rules. If there are administrative instructions, guidelines or norms prescribed for the purpose, the appellant may claim benefit of interest circumstances on that basis. But even in absence of statutory rules, administrative instructions or guidelines, an employee can claim interest under Part III of the Constitution relying on Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution.”11. The above said principle laid down by the Hon’ble Apex Court is also followed by a Division Bench of this Court in Government of Tamil Nadu Vs. M.Deivasigamani reported in 2009 (3) M.L.J. 1, wherein, the Division Bench has held as hereunder :“7. …. An employee is entitled to claim interest on belated payment of pension and other retrial benefits, even in the absence of statutory rules/administrative instructions or guidelines and he can make his claim for interest, under Part III of the Constitution of India relying on Articles 14, 19 and 21 of the Constitution of India”12. In view of the principles laid down by the Hon’ble Apex Court and the Division Bench of this Court, this Court has no hesitation to hold that the petitioner is entitled to seek the relief of interest for the belated settlement of terminal benefits.13. Now coming to the question of period, for which, the petitioner is entitled to seek the relief of interest, it is to be stated that the petitioner claimed interest from 01.07.2000 to 18.01.2010. However, this Court is of the considered view that as the application filed by the petitioner was allowed by the Tamil Nadu Administrative Tribunal in O.A.Nos.6559 and 6560 of 2000 by the order dated 17.04.2003, the petitioner is entitled to seek the relief of interest only from the date of order of the Tribunal, i.e., from 17.04.2003.14. In view of the aforesaid reasons, the writ petition is allowed and the impugned order passed by the third respondent dated 24.02.2010 in RC.No.Pen(CZ)/165/11734/09 is set aside. Consequently, the respondents herein are directed to pay interest, in respect of the belated disbursement of retiral benefits including the pension, at the rate of 12% from 17.04.2003 till the date of payment of interest to the petitioner. It is made clear that the said exercise shall be completed within a period of eight weeks from the date of receipt of a copy of this order. No costs.
2012 (3) LLN 778"