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Friday, October 18, 2013

Pension would be granted only after completion of 15 years service = Punjab National Bank & Ors. …Appellants Vs. Ram Kishan …Respondent - judis.nic.in/supremecourt/filename=40885

Pension would be granted only after completion of 15 years service =

The respondent  also  sought  voluntary  retirement  under  this
      scheme.  His application was  accepted  and  he  was  given  voluntary
      retirement  on  15.12.2000.   He  was  also  accorded   superannuation
      benefits like Provident Fund, Gratuity  and Leave Encashment.
      5.    The Bank has also Pension scheme  for  its  employees  which  is
      known as Punjab National  Bank  (Employees)  Pension  Regulation  1995
      (hereinafter  referred  to  as  the  “Pension  Regulation”).   As  per
      Regulation 28 of  these  Pension  Regulations,  an  employee  who  has
      rendered a minimum period of 15 years of service is  entitled  to  get
      pension.  Regulation 28 of the Pension Regulation reads as under:
           “Regulation 28: Superannuation pension.
                 Superannuation Pension shall be granted to an employee who
           has retired on his attaining the age of superannuation specified
           in the Service Regulations or Settlement.
                 Provided that with effect  from  1.9.2000,  pension  shall
           also be granted  to  an  employee  who  opts  to  retire  before
           attaining the age of superannuation, but after rendering service
           for a minimum period of 15 years in terms of any scheme that may
           be framed for such purpose by the Board with the approval of the
           government.”


      6.    As on the date of voluntary retirement of  the  respondent,  the
      respondent had not completed 15 years of service.   In  fact,  service
      rendered by him as on that date was 14 years 2  months  and  19  days.
      For this reason, the appellant-Bank did not issue any Pension Order in
      his  favour.   
The   respondent,  however,  pleaded  that  since   his
      application for voluntary retirement  under  VRS,  2000  was  accepted
      which lays down the conditions of service for a minimum period  of  15
      years, the respondent became entitled to pension as well, inasmuch  as
      the deficit period was waived by the appellant-Bank by its conduct  in
      accepting the application for voluntary retirement. =

  High Court committed a grave  error  in  following  Dharam  Pal  case,
      ignoring that the said judgment  in  the  case  of  Dharam  Pal  Singh
      (supra) of the Division Bench of  the  High  Court  had  already  been
      overruled by this Court on 24.2.2011 in Civil Appeal No.2132/2011.
      9.    This position could not be disputed by learned counsel  for  the
      respondent.  A perusal of the judgment of this  Court  in  Dharam  Pal
      Singh  (supra)   (CA  2132/2011)  would  demonstrate  that  the  issue
      involved in the case had already been determined by this Court in Bank
      of Baroda & Ors. vs. Ganpat Singh Deora (2009) 3  SCC  217  where  the
      identically worded Regulations  were  considered.   The  Court,  thus,
      found that the judgment of the High Court  in  Dharam  Pal  Singh  was
      contrary to the decision in Bank of Baroda  case  and  set  aside  the
      same. 
 In Bank of Baroda, this Court has held that unless     15 years
      service is rendered by an  employee,  he  will  not  be  eligible  for
      pensionary benefits.  
To quote the relevant discussion on this aspect,
      we reproduce the following passage therefrom:
           “Furthermore, Regulation 2 of the Voluntary  Retirement  Scheme,
           2001, of  the  appellant-Bank  merely  prescribes  a  period  of
           qualifying service for an employee to be eligible to  apply  for
           voluntary retirement. On the other hand, Regulations 14  and  29
           of the Pension  Regulations,  1995,  relate  to  the  period  of
           qualifying service for pension under the  said  Regulations,  in
           two different situations. While Regulation 14 provides  that  in
           order to be eligible for  pension  an  employee  would  have  to
           render  a  minimum  of  10  years  service,  Regulation  29   is
           applicable to the employees choosing to retire from service pre-
           maturely, and in their case the  period  of  qualifying  service
           would be 15 years.  The facts of  this  case,  however,  do  not
           attract the provisions of Regulation  29  since  the  respondent
           accepted the offer of  voluntary  retirement  under  the  Scheme
           framed by the Bank and not on  his  own  volition  de  hors  any
           Scheme of Voluntary Retirement.  In such a case,  Regulation  14
           read with Regulation 32 providing for premature retirement would
           not also apply to the case of the respondent.  While  Regulation
           2 of the BOBEVRS-2001 speaks of eligibility for  applying  under
           the Scheme, Regulation 14  of  the  Pension  Regulations,  1995,
           contemplates  a  situation  whereunder  an  employee  would   be
           eligible for premature pension.  The two provisions are for  two
           different purposes and for two  different  situations.  However,
           Regulation 28 of the Pension Regulations, 1995, after  amendment
           made provision for situations similar to the one in the  instant
           case.  In the absence of any particular provision for payment of
           pension  to  those  who  opted  for  BOBEVRS-2001   other   than
           Regulation 11(ii) of the Scheme, we are once again left to  fall
           back  on  the  Pension  Regulations,  1995,  and   the   amended
           provisions of Regulation 28 which brings  within  the  scope  of
           Superannuation Pension employees who  opted  for  the  Voluntary
           Retirement Scheme, which will  be  clear  from  the  Explanatory
           Memorandum.  However, the period of qualifying service has  been
           retained as 15 years for those opting for  BOBEVRS-2001  and  is
           treated differently from premature retirement where the  minimum
           period of qualifying service has  been  fixed  at  10  years  in
           keeping with Regulation 14 of  the  Pension  Regulations,  1995.
           We are, therefore, of the view that  not  having  completed  the
           required  length  of  qualifying  service  as   provided   under
           Regulation 28 of the 1995 Regulations, the  respondent  was  not
           eligible for pension under the Pension Regulations, 1995, of the
           appellant Bank.”


      10.   Accordingly, we allow this appeal and  set  aside  the  impugned
      judgment of the High Court. No costs.

                                                            NON-REPORTABLE


                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                         CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
                          CIVIL APPEAL NO.9172/2013
      (arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 31483 of 2012)




      Punjab National Bank & Ors.                        …Appellants


                       Vs.


      Ram Kishan                                         …Respondent




                                   J U D G M E N T


      A.K.SIKRI,J.


      1.    Leave granted.


      2.    The facts which need narration  for  determination  of  the  lis
      involved in this appeal are recapitulated as under:
      3.    The respondent herein  joined  the  appellant-Bank  as  Peon  on
      13.8.1986.  In the year 2000, the appellant-Bank introduced  Voluntary
      Retirement Scheme known as Punjab National  Bank  Employees  Voluntary
      Retirement Scheme 2000 (hereinafter referred to as “VRS, 2000”).  This
      scheme  was  widely  circulated,  period  whereof  was  1.11.2000   to
      30.11.2000 during which period those  employees  who  wanted  to  seek
      voluntary retirement under the said scheme were  permitted  to  apply.
      It was made applicable to those permanent full time employees  of  the
      Bank who had completed 15 years qualifying service or 40 years of  age
      which  means  those  employees  fulfilling  either  of  the  aforesaid
      conditions were eligible to apply under the VRS, 2000.
      4.    The respondent  also  sought  voluntary  retirement  under  this
      scheme.  His application was  accepted  and  he  was  given  voluntary
      retirement  on  15.12.2000.   He  was  also  accorded   superannuation
      benefits like Provident Fund, Gratuity  and Leave Encashment.
      5.    The Bank has also Pension scheme  for  its  employees  which  is
      known as Punjab National  Bank  (Employees)  Pension  Regulation  1995
      (hereinafter  referred  to  as  the  “Pension  Regulation”).   As  per
      Regulation 28 of  these  Pension  Regulations,  an  employee  who  has
      rendered a minimum period of 15 years of service is  entitled  to  get
      pension.  Regulation 28 of the Pension Regulation reads as under:
           “Regulation 28: Superannuation pension.
                 Superannuation Pension shall be granted to an employee who
           has retired on his attaining the age of superannuation specified
           in the Service Regulations or Settlement.
                 Provided that with effect  from  1.9.2000,  pension  shall
           also be granted  to  an  employee  who  opts  to  retire  before
           attaining the age of superannuation, but after rendering service
           for a minimum period of 15 years in terms of any scheme that may
           be framed for such purpose by the Board with the approval of the
           government.”


      6.    As on the date of voluntary retirement of  the  respondent,  the
      respondent had not completed 15 years of service.   In  fact,  service
      rendered by him as on that date was 14 years 2  months  and  19  days.
      For this reason, the appellant-Bank did not issue any Pension Order in
      his  favour.
The   respondent,  however,  pleaded  that  since   his
      application for voluntary retirement  under  VRS,  2000  was  accepted
      which lays down the conditions of service for a minimum period  of  15
      years, the respondent became entitled to pension as well, inasmuch  as
      the deficit period was waived by the appellant-Bank by its conduct  in
      accepting the application for voluntary retirement.
      7.    As the representation of the respondent to grant him  pensionary
      benefits was rejected by the appellant-Bank, aggrieved by the order of
      rejection, the appellant filed civil suit in the court of Civil  Judge
      (Senior Division), Gurdaspur,  Punjab  for  declaration  that  he  was
      entitled to pension  with  consequential  relief   and  for  mandatory
      injunction to direct the appellant-Bank to release  all  the  benefits
      along with interest at the rate of 18% from the date it had become due
      to him.  This Suit was, however, dismissed by  the  Civil  Court  vide
      judgment and decree dated 29.8.2003  holding  that  pension  could  be
      granted only on completion of 15 years  of  service  which  period  of
      service the respondent had not completed.   He  was,  therefore,  held
      entitled  to  other  benefits  like  ex-gratia,  gratuity  and   leave
      encashment but not the pension.  The respondents filed  Regular  First
      Appeal against the aforesaid judgment under Section 96 of the Code  of
      Civil Procedure (CPC) read with Order 41 CPC.  This Civil Appeal  also
      met with the same fate as it was dismissed affirming the  judgment  of
      the Trial Court. Still aggrieved, the respondent took  the  matter  to
      the High Court of Punjab and Haryana by filing Regular  Second  Appeal
      under Section 100 of the CPC.  By impugned judgment  dated  13.3.2012,
      the High Court has allowed the Second Appeal.  In this judgment, there
      is no detailed discussion touching upon the  provisions  contained  in
      VRS, 2000 or the Pension Regulations.  A bare reading of the  judgment
      reveals that  the  Court  has  followed  its  earlier  Division  Bench
      judgment rendered in the case of Dharam Pal Singh vs. Punjab  National
      Bank (2008) 149 PLR 745.  Against this impugned judgment,  Bank  filed
      instant Special Leave Petition under Art. 136 of the  Constitution  of
      India wherein leave has been granted.
      8.    Submission of the learned counsel for the appellant was that the
      High Court committed a grave  error  in  following  Dharam  Pal  case,
      ignoring that the said judgment  in  the  case  of  Dharam  Pal  Singh
      (supra) of the Division Bench of  the  High  Court  had  already  been
      overruled by this Court on 24.2.2011 in Civil Appeal No.2132/2011.
      9.    This position could not be disputed by learned counsel  for  the
      respondent.  A perusal of the judgment of this  Court  in  Dharam  Pal
      Singh  (supra)   (CA  2132/2011)  would  demonstrate  that  the  issue
      involved in the case had already been determined by this Court in Bank
      of Baroda & Ors. vs. Ganpat Singh Deora (2009) 3  SCC  217  where  the
      identically worded Regulations  were  considered.   The  Court,  thus,
      found that the judgment of the High Court  in  Dharam  Pal  Singh  was
      contrary to the decision in Bank of Baroda  case  and  set  aside  the
      same. 
 In Bank of Baroda, this Court has held that unless     15 years
      service is rendered by an  employee,  he  will  not  be  eligible  for
      pensionary benefits.
To quote the relevant discussion on this aspect,
      we reproduce the following passage therefrom:
           “Furthermore, Regulation 2 of the Voluntary  Retirement  Scheme,
           2001, of  the  appellant-Bank  merely  prescribes  a  period  of
           qualifying service for an employee to be eligible to  apply  for
           voluntary retirement. On the other hand, Regulations 14  and  29
           of the Pension  Regulations,  1995,  relate  to  the  period  of
           qualifying service for pension under the  said  Regulations,  in
           two different situations. While Regulation 14 provides  that  in
           order to be eligible for  pension  an  employee  would  have  to
           render  a  minimum  of  10  years  service,  Regulation  29   is
           applicable to the employees choosing to retire from service pre-
           maturely, and in their case the  period  of  qualifying  service
           would be 15 years.  The facts of  this  case,  however,  do  not
           attract the provisions of Regulation  29  since  the  respondent
           accepted the offer of  voluntary  retirement  under  the  Scheme
           framed by the Bank and not on  his  own  volition  de  hors  any
           Scheme of Voluntary Retirement.  In such a case,  Regulation  14
           read with Regulation 32 providing for premature retirement would
           not also apply to the case of the respondent.  While  Regulation
           2 of the BOBEVRS-2001 speaks of eligibility for  applying  under
           the Scheme, Regulation 14  of  the  Pension  Regulations,  1995,
           contemplates  a  situation  whereunder  an  employee  would   be
           eligible for premature pension.  The two provisions are for  two
           different purposes and for two  different  situations.  However,
           Regulation 28 of the Pension Regulations, 1995, after  amendment
           made provision for situations similar to the one in the  instant
           case.  In the absence of any particular provision for payment of
           pension  to  those  who  opted  for  BOBEVRS-2001   other   than
           Regulation 11(ii) of the Scheme, we are once again left to  fall
           back  on  the  Pension  Regulations,  1995,  and   the   amended
           provisions of Regulation 28 which brings  within  the  scope  of
           Superannuation Pension employees who  opted  for  the  Voluntary
           Retirement Scheme, which will  be  clear  from  the  Explanatory
           Memorandum.  However, the period of qualifying service has  been
           retained as 15 years for those opting for  BOBEVRS-2001  and  is
           treated differently from premature retirement where the  minimum
           period of qualifying service has  been  fixed  at  10  years  in
           keeping with Regulation 14 of  the  Pension  Regulations,  1995.
           We are, therefore, of the view that  not  having  completed  the
           required  length  of  qualifying  service  as   provided   under
           Regulation 28 of the 1995 Regulations, the  respondent  was  not
           eligible for pension under the Pension Regulations, 1995, of the
           appellant Bank.”


      10.   Accordingly, we allow this appeal and  set  aside  the  impugned
      judgment of the High Court. No costs.
                                      ------------------------------------J.
                                        (Ranjana Prakash Desai)




                                      ------------------------------------J.
                                         ( A.K.Sikri)
      New Delhi
      October 18,  2013

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