At, Central Administrative Tribunal Guwahati Bench Guwahati
By, THE HONOURABLE MR. TARUN SHRIDHAR
By, ADMINISTRATIVE MEMBER
For the Applicants: H. Rahman, Sr. Advocate, P. Agarwal, S. Bora, Advocates. For the Respondents: A. Kundu, Addl. CGSC.
(Through Video Conferencing)
1. By virtue of the present Original Application, the applicants seek the following reliefs :
“For a direction to the Respondent Authorities to disburse the arrear pension due to the Applicants from the period starting 01.01.2016 in terms of the recommendations of the 7th CPC”
2. Present Sh. H. Rahman, learned Senior Advocate and Sh. Abhishek Kundu, learned counsel for the applicants and respondents respectively.
3. Sh. H. Rahman, learned Senior Counsel briefly takes me through the history of the case submitting that all the applicants retired as Senior Scientists from the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research and on account of the recommendations of the Seventh Central Pay Commission, their pension and other retiral benefits got revised and they have been in receipt of the revised pension in accordance with the pay commission recommendations since then. However, learned counsel submits that the recommendations of the Seventh Central Pay Commission were to be implemented with effect from 01.01.2016 but the respondents have accorded the benefit of revised pension to the applicants only with effect from 01.09.2017.
4. Learned counsel submits that the respondents have adduced absolutely no reason as to why the arrears of pension which have accrued to them with effect from 01.01.2016 till 31.08.2017 have not been paid. He submits that the applicants have approached the respondents to elicit the reasons for the same and have also vented their grievance before the appropriate authority. However, their queries have remained unanswered so far and the respondents are yet to either release such arrears or even inform the applicants of the reasons for withholding the same. He argues that this action of the respondents not only amounts to denial of the rightful financial claim of the applicants but also falls in the face of the Principle of Natural Justice as the action of the respondents is both unilateral and arbitrary.
5. He submits that to the best of the knowledge of the applicants, apparently, the respondents have taken a position that during the course of their service, the applicants were granted Transport Allowance and later on it was determined that the applicants were not entitled to the same. Probably, that could be the reason for non release of the arrears of pension. However, he submits that he is making the statement only on account of hearsay as there has been no specific official communication with regard to this from the respondents.
6. Learned counsel for the respondents on the other hand submits that it is correct that Transport Allowance was erroneously paid to the applicants whereas they were not entitled to the same. Drawing attention to the Department of Expenditure Memorandum, he points out that any payment made in excess of the bona fide entitlement needs to be recovered from the applicants. He submits that the respondents being custodians of public money are duty bound to effect recovery of the amount which has been paid in excess of the entitlement of the applicants.
7. He further goes on to draw attention to the order passed by the Principal Bench of the Central Administrative Tribunal in O.A. No. 4062/2013 wherein the Tribunal had adjudicated upon the issue of the Transport Allowance and clearly held that the Transport Allowance cannot be paid to all the employees unless the specific admissibility of the same gets established in accordance with the recommendations of the pay commission. He submits that since the applicants were not entitled to the grant of Transport Allowance, the respondents have taken the only available recourse before them of effecting recovery of the same. He goes on to submit that the grievance of the respondents has been taken up by the respondents with the Department of Expenditure, who is the only competent authority to waive off the said recovery. Learned counsel submits that till the Department of Expenditure takes an appropriate decision in the matter, the respondents are duty bound to go ahead and make this recovery.
8. Learned counsel for the respondents referred to Civil Appeal No. 3500/2006 titled as High Court of Punjab and Haryana and Ors. Vs. Jagdev Singh decided on 29.07.2016. He also quotes from the O.M. of Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pension dated 02.03.2016 which stipulates that the waiver of recovery is to be allowed only with the express approval of the Department of Expenditure. He reiterates that such an approval has still not been obtained, therefore, recovery cannot be waived off.
9. I have heard the learned counsel for the parties and also gone through the documents on record. It is a no one’s case that the applicants obtained Transport Allowance by any misrepresentation or on account of any misconduct on their part. I do not know whether it was granted erroneously to them or not because the applicants have not been afforded any opportunity to substantiate that they were the rightful candidates of the said allowance. Moreover, the allowance was duly sanctioned and released in their favour by the competent authority amongst the respondents and, hence, if there was any patent error, the blame of the same would lie with the appropriate authority of the respondents and not with the applicants. Moreover, here is a case not of any recovery being made but a case of nonpayment of pension dues of the applicants which have accrued to them on account of the recommendations of the Seventh Pay Commission. Moreover, once the applicants are being paid pension in accordance with the said recommendations, I fail to find any justification in denying them the same with effect from the date it falls due i.e. 01.01.2016. Moreover, I have no doubt in my mind that in view of the facts and circumstances of the case, the
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action of the respondents in denying the arrears of pension to the applicants w.e.f. 01.01.2016 is arbitrary and unilateral. Therefore, it cannot be sustained. 10. Accordingly, the present Original Application is allowed. The competent authority amongst the respondents is directed to forthwith sanction and release the arrears of pension as per the claim and admissibility of the applicants in accordance with the recommendations of the Seventh Pay Commission w.e.f date such recommendations were to be given effect to within a period of 12 weeks from the date of this order. 11. Ordered accordingly. There shall be no orders as to costs.