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Sahdeo Tiwary v/s Jharkhand State Electricity Board, Engineering Building, Ranchi & Others

    W. P. (S) No. 5327 of 2013

    Decided On, 04 January 2022

    At, High Court of Judicature at Madras

    By, THE HONOURABLE MRS. JUSTICE ANUBHA RAWAT CHOUDHARY

    For the Petitioner: Ashok Kumar Jha, Advocate. For the Respondents: Om Prakash Tiwari, Advocate.



Judgment Text

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1. Heard Mr. Ashok Kumar Jha, learned counsel appearing on behalf of the petitioner.

2. Heard Mr. Om Prakash Tiwari, learned counsel appearing on behalf of the respondents.

3. The present writ petition has been filed seeking a direction upon the respondents to pay the admitted dues of overtime wages of the petitioner amounting to Rs. 1,05,445.72, which has not been paid to the petitioner in spite of the fact that the same has been passed for payment and intimation to this effect has already been given to the Electrical Executive Engineer, Transmission Division, Deoghar in response to his letter No. 946 dated 29.12.2006 by the Electrical Executive Engineer, Transmission Division, Chandauli, Gaya vide letter No. 422 dated 21.07.2007.

The petitioner has further sought for a direction upon the respondents to pay interest on the GPF amount from September 2008 to April 2013 i.e. up to the date and month of its of payment as per Rule 14(4) of the G.P.F. Rules.

4. The learned counsel for the petitioner submits that the petitioner superannuated from the service on 31.08.2008, but his GPF amount was not paid to him only in the month of April, 2013 and accordingly, the petitioner has filed the present writ petition seeking a direction for payment of interest from September, 2008 to April, 2013. The learned counsel relied upon the judgment passed by this Court reported in 2007 (1) JLJR 448 (Bachoo Ram vs. Jharkhand State Electricity Board) para 3, 4 and 5 and also the judgment reported in 2007 (2) JLJR 127 (Bhagwat Narayan Jha vs. State of Jharkhand) para 7 and 8. The learned counsel submits that the point regarding payment of interest is squarely covered by the aforesaid judgments.

5. The learned counsel also submitted that the representation dated 26.08.2010 (Annexure-7) and 09.05.2012 (Annexure-8) was also filed by the petitioner in connection with payment of GPF with statutory interest, but the GPF was sanctioned vide office order No. 4/ESE (T) dated 28.02.2013 including interest up to 31.08.2008 and the payment was released, but up to date interest on the GPF was not paid.

6. So far as payment of overtime wages is concerned, the learned counsel submitted that the Electrical Executive Engineer, Transmission Division, Deoghar had sent a letter containing Letter No. 946 dated 29.12.2006 to the Electrical Executive Engineer, Transmission Division, Chandauli, Gaya to send the overtime bills of the petitioner for payment and consequently, the bill was sent vide letter No. 422 dated 21.07.2007, but in spite of the bill having been sent which relates to the period of overtime bills from December, 1997 to March, 2002, the payment was not made and ultimately, the petitioner retired with effect from 31.08.2008. He further submitted that a letter dated 12.02.2009 was issued by the Director of Personnel, Jharkhand State Electricity Board, Ranchi directing the Field Officers to submit the details of overtime work of the retired employees for the work done before bifurcation for payment and the petitioner submitted his application on 28.02.2009 giving the details of his overtime bills for payment, but in spite of repeated representations, the same was not paid.

7. The learned counsel referred to the judgment passed by this Court reported in 2006 (3) JLJR 603 (Nripendra Narayan Sinha vs. Jharkhand State Electricity Board, Ranchi & Ors.) para 14 and 15 and submitted that the entitlement of the petitioner to receive the payment of overtime as per actual hours of overtime work is fully covered by the aforesaid judgment. He submitted that L.P.A. No. 578/2006 was filed against the aforesaid judgment, which has also been dismissed vide judgment dated 03.09.2008.

8. In response, the learned counsel appearing on behalf of the respondents submitted that the entire amount of GPF with interest has already been paid to the petitioner and for this, he referred to para-5 of the counter-affidavit and submitted that the interest amount was also calculated for the period from 31.08.2008 to 28.02.2009 @ 8% per annum as per GPF Rules and a cheque dated 09.10.2015 has already been credited in the bank account of the petitioner. However, during the course of hearing, it is not in dispute that the GPF was paid to the petitioner only vide cheque dated 11.05.2013 and no interest for the period from March, 2009 to April, 2013 has been paid to the petitioner.

9. The learned counsel while opposing the prayer for grant of overtime dues referred to order dated 31.08.2010 passed in L.P.A. No. 172/2010 and submitted that the present writ petition also suffers from delay and latches on the part of the writ petitioner. He further submitted that this Court while deciding L.P.A. No. 172/2010 vide judgment dated 31.08.2010 has held that the law of limitation is for three years only for recovery of money and the amount said to be due in the said case was up to the year 2001 and further held that even a civil suit would not be maintainable and accordingly, the writ petition, which was dismissed on account of delay and latches, was upheld.

10. The learned counsel submited that the case of the petitioner also suffers from delay and latches as the period for which the petitioner is claiming the overtime dues is for the period December, 1997 to March, 2002 and the writ petition has been filed in the year 2013.

11. In response, the learned counsel for the petitioner submitted that the sequence of events as narrated in the writ petition clearly indicates that there was no delay and latches from the side of the petitioner, in as much as, the bill regarding payment on account of overtime dues was sanctioned and confirmed only in the year 2007 and thereafter, on 12.02.2009 a letter was issued from the side of the Electricity Board to submit the bill for payment of such bill for which the petitioner submitted his representation vide Annexure-5.

12. Learned counsel for the petitioner submitted that in view of the aforesaid facts and circumstances, there is no delay and latches on the part of the petitioner in claiming overtime dues and accordingly, the judgment relied upon by the respondents passed in L.P.A. No. 172/2010 does not apply to the facts and circumstances of the present case.

13. Findings on the point of payment of interest on GPF

a) It is not in dispute that the petitioner retired as driver from Jharkhand State Electricity Board, Transmission Division, Deoghar on 31.08.2008. It is also not in dispute that the petitioner was paid an amount of Rs. 5,82,151/- with interest on account of GPF vide cheque dated 11.05.2013. It is further not in dispute that an amount of interest of Rs. 23,286/- for the period from 31.08.2008 to 28.02.2009 @ 8% as per GPF Rules has been paid to the petitioner vide cheque dated 09.10.2015 and has been deposited in the petitioner’s bank account. What remains to be considered is claim for payment of interest for the period from March, 2009 till April, 2013.

b) From perusal of the records of this case, it appears that there has been no latches from the side of the petitioner and the non-payment of GPF to the petitioner in spite of his retirement as back as in the year 2008 is wholly attributable to the concerned authorities. There is nothing on record to show that the account officer ever intimated any date to the petitioner, on which, he was prepared to make payment in cash or had posted the cheque to the petitioner in connection with the GPF.

c) In the judgment passed by this Court reported in 2007 (1) JLJR 448 (supra), it has been held that there is no bar in payment of interest beyond six months particularly when there has been delay on the part of the employer. While interpreting Rule 14(4) of Bihar GPF Rules, 1948. It has been held at para 3 and 4 as under: -

“3. The note appended to the Rule, however, permits the payment of interest beyond six months, if the delay in making the payment is not attributable to the employee, under the orders of the officers mentioned, therein. Therefore, there is no bar in payment of 6 interest beyond six months particularly when there has been delay on the part of the employer or any other person liable to pay the G.P.F. Interest on delayed payment is in the nature of compensation and becomes payable on account of wrong withholding of the legitimate dues. From the provisions of Rule 14(4), it is apparent that there is no prohibition for payment of interest beyond six months. A similar view was expressed by this Court in the case of Chander Mehta v. Jharkhand State Electricity Board and Ors. reported in 2006 (1) JLJR 48. Learned Counsel appearing for J.S.E.B., with reference to Rule 14(4) of the Bihar G.P.F. Rules, submitted that interest was payable only for a period of six months from the date of retirement, if it was not paid within six months, but he could not show anything that as per the proviso to the said rule, the Accounts Officer intimated the petitioner a date on which he is prepared to make payment in cash or has posted a cheque to the petitioner. In my view, in the facts of this case, statutory interest on G.P.F. amount should be paid up to the month preceding the receipt of GPF by the petitioner.

4. In view of the above circumstances, the contention of the learned Counsel appearing for the Respondents cannot be accepted. Petitioner is also entitled to interest on delayed payment of Gratuity on the same principles as also in accordance with the provisions of Section 7(3A) of the Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972, if the amount is not paid within 30 days from the date, it becomes payable. In view of these provisions of law, petitioner is found entitled to interest from one month after the retirement till the amount is actually paid.”

d) Considering the fact that there has been delay on the part of the employer in the present case in the matter of remitting the amount of GPF to the petitioner, this Court is of the considered view that the petitioner is entitled to statutory interest also for the month from March, 2009 till April, 2013 @ 8% per annum as per GPF Rules as undisputedly, the respondents have calculated the interest from 31.08.2008 to 28.02.2009 (six months) @ 8% per annum. The Respondent, now Jharkhan Urja Vikas Nigam Limited, is directed to pay the aforesaid interest to the petitioner within a period of two months from the date of receipt of a copy of this order.

14. Findings on the point of payment on account of overtime dues

a. The petitioner has claimed overtime dues for the period from December, 1997 to March, 2002. The entitlement of overtime dues of the petitioner, though not in dispute from the side of the respondents, but the respondents have raised a plea that the claim of the petitioner is barred on account of delay and latches and they have relied upon the judgment passed in L.P.A. No. 172/2010 dated 31.10.2010, which arises out of W.P.(S) No. 1655/2010 decided on 22.04.2010. It is the specific case of the respondents that the said writ petition was dismissed on account of delay and latches and the judgment passed in the writ petition was affirmed by Hon’ble Division Bench of this Court in L.P.A. No. 172/2010.

b. In the present case, though the petitioner had claimed the overtime dues for the period from December, 1997 to March, 2002, but vide Letter No. 946 dated 29.12.2006, the Electrical Executive Engineer, Transmission Division, Deoghar had sent a letter to the Electrical Executive Engineer, Transmission Division, Chandauli, Gaya to send the overtime bills of the petitioner for payment and consequently, the authority at Gaya responded vide letter No. 422 dated 21.07.2007 and sent the past overtime bills of the petitioner for the month December, 1997 to March, 2002 for necessary action and in the meantime, the petitioner retired from service on 31.08.2008. Thereafter, a letter dated 12.02.2009 was issued by the Director of Personnel, Jharkhand State Electricity Board, Ranchi directing the Field Officers to submit the details of overtime work of retired employees for the work done before bifurcation of the Board for payment and consequently, the petitioner filed his details of overtime bills vide letter dated 28.02.2009. Thus, the claim of overtime bills of the petitioner, though related to the period from December, 1997 to March, 2002, was under consideration and the bills were duly processed and in the year 2009, a letter was issued directing the field officials to submit the details of the overtime work of the retired employees for the work done by them before bifurcation for payment and thereafter, in spite of repeated representations, the petitioner was not paid the overtime dues and the writ petition was filed on 27.08.2013.

c. Considering the aforesaid sequence of events as narrated by the petitioner in the writ petition and the fact that the matter was under active consideration at the hands of the respondents, this Court is of the considered view that the writ petition filed by the petitioner does not suffer from delay and latches. In such view of the matter, the judgment relied upon by the respondents passed in L.P.A. No. 17

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2/2010 does not apply to the facts and circumstances of the present case. Accordingly, the argument of the respondents that the claim of overtime bill is barred on account of delay and latches is rejected. d. The learned counsel for the petitioner relied upon the judgment passed by this Court reported in 2006 (3) JLJR 603 para 14 and 15, wherein one employee of Jharkhand State Electricity Board was held to be entitled to overtime bill on the basis of its actual work. The learned counsel for the respondents has made no attempt to distinguish the aforesaid judgment relied upon by the petitioner. e. So far as the quantification of the overtime dues is concerned, the same has already been quantified to be Rs. 1,05,445.72 as is apparent from Annexure-2 and the said quantification as such is not under dispute from the side of the respondents. Accordingly, the petitioner is held to be entitled to overtime dues of Rs. 1,05,445.72 which is directed to be paid by the respondents, now Jharkhan Urja Vikas Nigam Limited within a period of two months from the date of filing of a representation to the authority, Respondent No. 4 along with a copy of this order. If the amount is not paid within the aforesaid timeframe, the petitioner will be entitled to an interest @ 5% per annum from the date of filing of the representation till payment. 15. Accordingly, the present writ petition is hereby disposed of with the aforesaid observations and directions.
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