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R. Prabhuraj v/s The Reserve Bank of India, Rep.by Deputy General Manager, Chennai & Another

    W.P. No. 32407 of 2018

    Decided On, 18 July 2018

    At, High Court of Judicature at Madras

    By, THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE M. VENUGOPAL & THE HONOURABLE MR. JUSTICE M. NIRMAL KUMAR

    For the Petitioner: AR.L. Sundaresan, Sr.Counsel for Yogeh Kannadasan, Advocate. For the Respondents: R1, Chevanan Mohan for M/s. King & Partridge, Advocates, R2, K. Rajendra Prasad, A.G.P.



Judgment Text

(Prayer: Petition filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India praying to issue a writ of Certiorarified Mandamus, to call for the records relating to the proceedings in HRMD.Che.No/1574/02.02.033/2017-18, dated 6.12.2017 of the respondent, and quash the orders passed therein and consequently direct the respondent to disburse all the terminal benefits such as provident fund, leave encashment, gratuity etc., including pension with reasonable interest from the date of the dues, in the light of the principles of law laid down by the Division Bench in W.P.No.19234 of 2014, by order dt.07.07.2015.)

M. Venugopal, J.

1. The Petitioner has preferred the instant Writ Petition seeking to call for the records pertaining to the Proceedings in HRMD.Che.No/1574/02.02.033/2017-18, dated 6.12.2017 of the First Respondent and to quash the same. Further he has sought for passing of an order by this Court in directing the Respondent to disburse all the terminal benefits, such as Provident Fund, Leave Encashment, Gratuity etc., including Pension with reasonable interest from the date of the dues, in the light of the Principles laid down by the Division Bench in W.P.No.19234 of 2014, dated 07.07.2015.

2. Heard the Learned Senior Counsel for the Petitioner, the Learned Counsel for the First Respondent and the Learned Additional Government Pleader appearing for the Second Respondent.

3. According to the Petitioner, he belongs to 'Konda Reddy' Community, which is one of the Communities listed as a Scheduled Tribe, under the Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Order, 1950. As early as on 11.06.1973, he had obtained the 'Community Certificate' issued by the Taluk Office, Uthiramerur, in support of his claim that he belongs to Scheduled Tribe Community. During 1977, he joined as Typist in Southern Railways under the quota reserved for 'Scheduled Tribes' and continued there till 1981. In November 1981, he was selected and appointed in the services of the First Respondent/Reserve Bank of India, Chennai, as Typist under the quota reserved for 'Scheduled Tribes'. As directed by the First Respondent, at the time of his appointment, he obtained and produced another Community Certificate, dated 07.11.1981 issued by the Tahsildar, Uthiramerur Taluk. The District Collector of Chengalpet, by means of an Order dated 25.02.1985 had passed an order cancelling his 'Community Certificate', which was set aside by this Court in W.P.No.4018 of 1985.

4. The stand of the Petitioner is that after several years, once again an enquiry was started by the District Vigilance Committee, in 2007, as regards the genuineness of his 'Community Certificate'. Because of the reason that the said Committee was not constituted as per directions of the Judgment in Madhuri Patel's case (AIR 1994 SC 95), the Petitioner and others had filed a batch of Writ Petitions, wherein a direction was issued for the constitution of State Level Scrutiny Committee, which alone is empowered to conduct an enquiry. In the meanwhile, the Petitioner was promoted as Assistant Manager in the office of the First Respondent.

5. The Petitioner comes out with a stand that again his Community Certificate verification was taken up by the Second Respondent/State Level Scrutiny Committee and that the said Committee passed an order cancelling his Community Certificate. As a matter of fact, he approached this Court in W.P.No.23190 of 2015 and this Court, on 10.12.2015, had passed the following Order:

'4. Learned Government advocate appearing for the respondents 1 and 2, on instructions, would submit hat the first respondent, while examining the case of the petitioner, had not referred the matter to the Vigilance Cell, as required under law. Hence, the matter may be remitted back to the State Level Scrutiny Committee, to examine the case of the petitioner afresh in the light of the Government Orders as well as the judicial mandate.'

6. During the interregnum, the Petitioner attained Superannuation on 31.10.2017. In this connection, the Learned Senior Counsel for the Petitioner submits that the Petitioner had not received any notice from the Second Respondent/Committee and as such, his Certificate was not cancelled in the eye of Law. Although, he had received a relieving Order dated 24.10.2017 to the effect that he was demitting office on 31.10.2017 without any adverse remark, to his shock and surprise, the Second Respondent had passed the impugned Order dated 06.12.2017 withholding all his terminal benefits on the ground that his Community verification is yet to receive finality before the State Level Scrutiny Committee.

7. The Learned Senior Counsel for the Petitioner contends that the action of the First Respondent in withholding the Petitioner's terminal and Pension benefits, after satisfactory completion of nearly 36 years of service, is illegal, unlawful and unsustainable one. Added further, the Learned Senior Counsel for the Petitioner proceeds to point out that the First Respondent is expected to expedite the process of verification of Petitioner's Community Certificate, immediately after his appointment and as such, they are not entitled to withhold the Terminal and Pentionary benefits, after a lapse of numerous years of service, that too, at the time of Petitioner's superannuation.

8. The Learned Senior Counsel for the Petitioner projects an argument that the Impugned Order of the First Respondent/Reserve Bank of India, Chennai, dated 06.12.2017, is quite contra to the judgment of the Hon'ble Supreme Court in Madhuri Patel's case, reported in AIR 1994 SC 95, whereby and whereunder, it is observed that the Certificate has to be verified at the earliest, i.e. within a period of six months, by application to the relevant Committee, in matters relating to employment, but not at the fag end of service of an emp

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9. The Petitioner, in the Memorandum of Grounds of Writ Petition, has also raised a plea that he had not received any communication from the Second Respondent/State Level Scrutiny Committee till date and no fault can be attributed against him for not taking a final decision by the said Committee and viewed in that perspective, withholding of his terminal benefits, by the First Respondent, is an unconstitutional and illegal one.

10. The Learned Senior Counsel for the Petitioner contends that inasmuch as the Petitioner's Community Certificate is not cancelled as on date by he appropriate/competent authority, the action of the First Respondent/Reserve Bank of India, Chennai, in not disbursing Petitioner's share of Provident Fund, Gratuity, Leave Encashment and other terminal benefits, to which he is entitled to, is an illegal and unlawful one.

11. The Learned Senior Counsel for the Petitioner proceeds to point out that right to pension is a property right and that right to property is no longer a fundamental right and in this regard, places reliance on the decision of the Hon'ble Supreme Court in STATE OF JHARKAND AND OTHERS VS. JITENDRA KUMAR SRIVASTAVA AND ANOTHER, reported in [(2013) 12 SCC 210]. Apart from that, the Learned Senior Counsel for the petitioner seeks in aid of the decision of the Hon'ble Supreme Court in Dr.UMA AGARWAL VS. STATE OF UP reported in [(1999) 3 SCC 438], wherein it is held that grant of pension is not a Bounty, but a right of the Government servant and hence, the First Respondent is not justified in denying such right to the Petitioner. Besides this, the Learned Senior Counsel for the Petitioner refers to the Order dated 07.07.2015, in W.P.No.19234 of 2014, between 1.The Union of India, Ministry of Railways, rep.by the Divisional Personnel Officer, Southern Railways, Tiruchirappalli Division Tiruchirappalli vs. 1.The Central Administrative Tribunal, rep.by its Registrar and two others, wherein it is observed at Paragraph No.29 that 'the pendency of the proceedings for verification before the State Level Scrutiny Committee cannot impede the settlement of terminal benefits and pensionary benefits'.

12. The Learned Senior Counsel for the Petitioner refers to the decision of a Division Bench of this Court between Union of India, Principal Controller of Communication Accounts, Ministry of Communication and IT vs. D.Sowbagiamani and Others in W.P.No.2554 of 2015, dated 14.09.2015, wherein, it is held that inasmuch as no finality is reached in regard to the verification of Community Certificate and having attained Superannuation, the Petitioner is entitled for disbursement of terminal benefits. Hence, the Petitioner has filed the present Writ Petition.

13. Conversely, it is the submission of the Learned Counsel for the First Respondent that the petitioner was employed in the First Respondent/Reserve Bank of India, Chennai and retired as Assistant Manager, on 31.10.2017. Further it is represented on behalf of the First Respondent that the Reserve Bank Scheduled Caste Uplift Union lodged a complaint alleging among other things that the Petitioner's claim to be Scheduled Tribe candidate and securing a job in the First Respondent/Reserve Bank of India, during the year 1981, is based on a false Community Certificate. As a matter of fact, the post was reserved for 'Scheduled Tribe' persons only and the Petitioner secured the job by submitting a false Certificate, claiming himself to be a Scheduled Tribe Candidate.

14. The Learned Counsel for the First Respondent points out that the First Respondent/Reserve Bank of India, Chennai, had referred the subject matter in issue to the Social Welfare Department (SWD), Government of Tamil Nadu, for verification of the genuineness of the Petitioner's Community Certificate and during the year 1985, the Social Welfare Department (SWD), after verification, recommended for cancellation of Petitioner's Community Certificate, as the same was found to be false. Indeed the District Collector, Chengalpet, passed an order, on 25.2.1985, cancelling the Petitioner's Certificate.

15. The Learned Counsel for the First Respondent/Reserve Bank of India, Chennai, brings it to the notice of this Court that the Petitioner challenged the cancellation order passed by the District Collector, Chengalpet, in W.P.No.4018 of 1985 before this Court and this Court on 25.3.1991 disposed of the said Writ Petition by issuing a direction to the District Collector, Chengalpet, to make necessary enquiry in accordance with law and consistent with the Principles of natural justice.

16. The Learned Counsel for the First Respondent contends that the Petitioner's Community Certificate was cancelled for the second time by the District Collector, Kancheepuram, as per Order dated 26.10.1992, which was assailed by the Petitioner in W.P.No.17730 of 1992, which was disposed of by this Court on 26.7.2001, with a direction to the District Collector, Kancheepuram to conduct a fresh enquiry and since then, the First Respondent/Reserve Bank of India, Chennai, is following up with the District Collector, Kancheepuram, through several reminders.

17. The Learned Counsel for the First Respondent/Reserve Bank of India, Chennai, takes a plea that the First Respondent/Reserve Bank of India, Chennai, issued several Letters dated 13.2.2017, 23.06.2017, 28.08.2017, 7.11.2017 and 2.1.2018 to the Deputy Secretary, Adi Dravidar and Tribal Welfare Department, Government of Tamil Nadu, whereby a request was made to expedite the process/status of verification of the Petitioner's caste Certificate by the Second Respondent/State Level Scrutiny Committee. But, finality is yet to be received from the Second Respondent/Committee in respect of veracity of the Petitioner's caste Certificate. In this regard, the Learned Counsel for the First Respondent submits that the delay caused in completing the verification of the petitioner's Community Certificate by the Second Respondent/Committee is for reasons beyond the control of the First Respondent/Reserve Bank of India, Chennai and the First Respondent is not responsible in any manner for the same. Therefore, pending verification of Petitioner's Community Certificate, his retirement benefits were withheld by the First Respondent/Bank.

18. The Learned Counsel for the First Respondent seeks in aid of the decision of this Court between N.Balu vs. Chairman, State Bank of India, reported in 2014(3) LLJ 31(Mad), wherein it is observed and held as under:

'unless and until the issue relating to the Community Certificate is decided, the terminal benefits of the petitioners need not be part with by the Bank and till the issue is decided by the State Level Committee, there is no need for the Bank to release terminal benefits. The benefit should reach the Downtrodden Community, namely, Scheduled Tribe. Whether the petitioner belonging to Scheduled Tribe or