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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Service matter - whether a voluntary retired person under special scheme entitled for pension benefits as per scheme as it was 20 years of service for granting pension under pension scheme - Retirement means includes voluntary retirement -as the per scheme a special voluntary retired person is entitled for pension benefits also along with other benefits and as such Voluntary retirement after 20 years mentioned in para 30 of General insurance pension scheme 1995 not applies in strict sense as it contains special provision to that effect - Apex court held affirmatively and confirmed the orders of high court and dismissed the civil appeal = National Insurance Co. Ltd. & Anr. …Appellants Versus Kirpal Singh …Respondent = 2014 (JANUARY - VOL - 1) JUDIS.NIC.IN/S.C./FILE NAME =41144

  Service matter -  whether a voluntary retired person under special scheme entitled for pension benefits as per scheme as it was 20 years of service for granting pension under pension scheme - Retirement means includes voluntary retirement -as the per scheme a special voluntary retired  person is entitled for pension benefits also along with other benefits and as such Voluntary retirement after 20 years mentioned in para 30 of General insurance pension scheme 1995 not applies in strict sense as it contains special provision to that effect - Apex court held affirmatively and confirmed the orders of high court and dismissed the civil appeal = 

whether the respondents who opted for voluntary retirement from the  service
of the appellant-companies are entitled to claim pension under  the  General
Insurance (Employees) Pension Scheme 1995. 
The High Court  having  answered
the question in the  affirmative,  the  appellant-Insurance  Companies  have
appealed to assail that view.

   “Eligibility

              1) All permanent full time employees will be eligible to  seek
                 special voluntary retirement  under  this  Scheme  provided
                 they have attained the age of 40  years  and  completed  10
                 years  of  qualifying  services   as   on   the   date   of
                 notification.

              2) An  employee  who  is  under  suspension  or  against  whom
                 disciplinary proceedings are pending or contemplated  shall
                 not be eligible to opt for the scheme;

                 Provided  that  the  case  of  an  employee  who  is  under
                 suspension  or  against  whom  disciplinary  proceeding  is
                 pending or contemplated made be considered by the Board  of
                 the Company  concerned  having  regard  to  the  facts  and
                 circumstances of each case and the decision  taken  by  the
                 Board shall be final.”




5.    In para 5 of the scheme those seeking voluntary retirement  were  held
entitled to  ex-gratia  amount  to  be  determined  according  to  the  said
provision.  In Para 6 of the scheme were stipulated other benefits to  which
the employees opting for voluntary retirement  under  the  scheme  would  be
entitled.  It reads as under:

           “6. Other benefits.-

              1) An employee opting for the scheme shall  also  be  eligible
                 for the following benefits in  addition  to  the  ex-gratia
                 amount mentioned in para 5 namely:-

                    a) Provident Fund,

                    b) Gratuity as per Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972 (39  of
                       1972) or gratuity payable under  the  Rationalisation
                       Scheme, as the case may be;

                    c) Pension (including commuted value of pension) as  per
                       General Insurance (Employee’s) Pension  Scheme  1995,
                       if eligible. However, the additional notional benefit
                       of the five years of added service as  stipulated  in
                       para 30 of the  said  pension  Scheme  shall  not  be
                       admissible for the purpose of determining the quantum
                       of pension and commutation of pension.

                    d) Leave encashment.

              2)  An employee who is opting for  the  scheme  shall  not  be
                 entitled to avail Leave Travel Subsidy and also  encashment
                 of leave while in service during the period of  sixty  days
                 from the date of notification of this scheme.”

                                                         (emphasis supplied)



6.    The respondents who opted for voluntary retirement  in  terms  of  the
SVRS of 2004 afore-mentioned appear to have claimed pension as  one  of  the
benefits admissible to them under para 6 above. The claim  was  rejected  by
the appellants forcing the respondents to  agitate  the  matter  before  the
High Court in separate writ petitions filed by them.  The High Court has  by
a common order dated 25th January, 2008, allowed the said petitions  holding
the respondents to be entitled to claim pension. 

 It was contended on behalf of the appellant-companies  that  in  terms
of para 6 of SVRS of 2004  (supra)  pension  will  be  admissible  to  those
seeking voluntary retirement only if they were eligible for the  same  under
the Pension Scheme 1995. 
Para 30 of the Pension Scheme  1995  in  turn  made
only such employees eligible for pension who had completed twenty  years  of
qualifying  service.  
Inasmuch  as  the  respondents  had   not   admittedly
completed twenty years of qualifying service on the date of their  voluntary
retirement, they were not eligible for  pension  under  the  Pension  Scheme
1995.=
The SVRS of 2004 does not obviously rest  the  claim  for  payment  of
pension on any one of the above two provisions.  
That  is  because  what  is
claimed by the  employees-  respondents  before  us  is  not  superannuation
pension nor is it pension on voluntary  retirement  within  the  meaning  of
para 30 (supra).  
As a matter of fact, para 6 (1)(c) of  the  SVRS  of  2004
specifically provides that the notional benefit of additional five years  to
be added to the service of the retiring employee as stipulated  in  para  30
of the pension scheme shall not be admissible for  purposes  of  determining
the quantum of pension and commutation of  pension.   
It  follows  that  the
SVRS of 2004 did not for the purposes of grant of pension adopt  the  scheme underlying para 30 of the Pension Scheme 1995.  
Such  being  the  case,  the question is 
whether the provisions of para 6 of the SVRS of 2004  read  with
para 14  of  the  Pension  Scheme  1995  which  stipulates  only  ten  years qualifying service for an employee who retires from service to  entitle  him to claim pension would entitle those retiring pursuant to the SVRS  of  2004 also to claim pension. Our answer is in the affirmative.  
If  paras  29  and
30 do not govern the entitlement for those seeking the benefit  of  SVRS  of
2004, the only other provision  which  can  possibly  be  invoked  for  such
pension is para 14 (supra) that  prescribes  a  qualifying  service  of  ten
years only as a condition of eligibility. 
The only  impediment  in  adopting
that interpretation lies in the use of the word ‘retirement’ in Para  14  of
the Pension Scheme 1995. 
A restricted meaning to that  expression  may  mean
that Para 14 provides only for retirements in terms of Para  (2)(t)  (i)  to
(iii) which includes voluntary retirement in accordance with the  provisions
contained in Para 30 of the Pension Scheme. 

The context in which the question whether pension is  admissible  to
an employee who has opted for voluntary retirement  under  the  2004  scheme
assumes importance as Para 2 of the scheme starts with the  words  “In  this
scheme, unless the context otherwise requires”.  There  is  nothing  in  the
context of 1995 Scheme which would exclude its  beneficial  provisions  from
application to employees who have opted for voluntary retirement  under  the
Special Scheme 2004 or vice versa.  
The term retirement must in the  context
of the two schemes, and the  admissibility  of  pension  to  those  retiring
under the SVRS of 2004, include retirement not only under  Para  30  of  the
Pension Scheme 1995 but also those retiring  under  the  Special  Scheme  of
2004. 
That apart any provision for  payment  of  pension  is  beneficial  in
nature which ought to receive a liberal interpretation so as  to  serve  the
object underlying not only of the Pension Scheme 1995 but also  any  special
scheme under which employees have been given the option  to  seek  voluntary
retirement upon completion of the prescribed number of years of service  and
age.

17.   In the result these appeals fail and are hereby dismissed but  in  the
circumstances without any order as to costs.

2014 (JANUARY - VOL - 1) JUDIS.NIC.IN/S.C./FILE NAME =41144
                                                  REPORTABLE

                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
                 CIVIL APPEAL NO.   256             OF 2014
                 (Arising out of S.L.P. (C) No.9953 of 2008)


National Insurance Co. Ltd. & Anr.                 …Appellants

      Versus

Kirpal Singh                                       …Respondent

                                    With

                 CIVIL APPEAL NO.     257           OF 2014
                (Arising out of S.L.P. (C) No.10548 of 2008)



United India Insurance Co. Ltd. & Ors.       …Appellants

      Versus

Shamsher Singh Puri                               …Respondent

                                     And


                 CIVIL APPEAL NO.   258              OF 2014
                (Arising out of S.L.P. (C) No.10756 of 2008)



The New India Assurance Co. Ltd. & Ors.       …Appellants

      Versus

Davinder Singh                                           …Respondent


                               J U D G M E N T

T.S. THAKUR, J.

1.    Leave granted.



2.    The short question that falls for determination in  these  appeals  is
whether the respondents who opted for voluntary retirement from the  service
of the appellant-companies are entitled to claim pension under  the  General
Insurance (Employees) Pension Scheme 1995.
The High Court  having  answered
the question in the  affirmative,  the  appellant-Insurance  Companies  have
appealed to assail that view.

3.    The controversy arises in the following backdrop:

4.    In exercise of its powers under 
Section 17A of the  General  Insurance Business (Nationalisation) Act, 1972, the Central Government  made  what  is described as  
General  Insurance  Employee’s  Special  Voluntary  Retirement Scheme, 2004 (hereinafter referred to as “SVRS of  2004”).
Para  3  of  the
scheme stipulating the eligibility conditions for employees  who  could  opt
for voluntary retirement from the services of the insurance  company  is  as
under:

           “Eligibility

              1) All permanent full time employees will be eligible to  seek
                 special voluntary retirement  under  this  Scheme  provided
                 they have attained the age of 40  years  and  completed  10
                 years  of  qualifying  services   as   on   the   date   of
                 notification.

              2) An  employee  who  is  under  suspension  or  against  whom
                 disciplinary proceedings are pending or contemplated  shall
                 not be eligible to opt for the scheme;

                 Provided  that  the  case  of  an  employee  who  is  under
                 suspension  or  against  whom  disciplinary  proceeding  is
                 pending or contemplated made be considered by the Board  of
                 the Company  concerned  having  regard  to  the  facts  and
                 circumstances of each case and the decision  taken  by  the
                 Board shall be final.”




5.    In para 5 of the scheme those seeking voluntary retirement  were  held
entitled to  ex-gratia  amount  to  be  determined  according  to  the  said
provision.  In Para 6 of the scheme were stipulated other benefits to  which
the employees opting for voluntary retirement  under  the  scheme  would  be
entitled.  It reads as under:

           “6. Other benefits.-

              1) An employee opting for the scheme shall  also  be  eligible
                 for the following benefits in  addition  to  the  ex-gratia
                 amount mentioned in para 5 namely:-

                    a) Provident Fund,

                    b) Gratuity as per Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972 (39  of
                       1972) or gratuity payable under  the  Rationalisation
                       Scheme, as the case may be;

                    c) Pension (including commuted value of pension) as  per
                       General Insurance (Employee’s) Pension  Scheme  1995,
                       if eligible. However, the additional notional benefit
                       of the five years of added service as  stipulated  in
                       para 30 of the  said  pension  Scheme  shall  not  be
                       admissible for the purpose of determining the quantum
                       of pension and commutation of pension.

                    d) Leave encashment.

              2)  An employee who is opting for  the  scheme  shall  not  be
                 entitled to avail Leave Travel Subsidy and also  encashment
                 of leave while in service during the period of  sixty  days
                 from the date of notification of this scheme.”

                                                         (emphasis supplied)



6.    The respondents who opted for voluntary retirement  in  terms  of  the
SVRS of 2004 afore-mentioned appear to have claimed pension as  one  of  the
benefits admissible to them under para 6 above. The claim  was  rejected  by
the appellants forcing the respondents to  agitate  the  matter  before  the
High Court in separate writ petitions filed by them.  The High Court has  by
a common order dated 25th January, 2008, allowed the said petitions  holding
the respondents to be entitled to claim pension. 
The High  Court  has  taken
the view that para 6 of the SVRS of 2004 read with para 14  of  the  General
Insurance (Employees) Pension Scheme 1995 entitled the  employees  to  claim
pension so long as they had rendered a minimum of ten years  of  service  in
the Corporation/Company from whose service  they  were  seeking  retirement.
Para 14 of the Pension Scheme 1995 reads as under:

           “Qualifying Service: Subject to the other condition contained in
           this scheme, an employee who has rendered a minimum ten years of
           service in  the  Corporation  or  a  Company,  on  the  date  of
           retirement shall qualify for pension.”




7.    A conjoint reading of para 6 of SVRS  of  2004  and  para  14  of  the
Pension Scheme 1995, would leave  no  manner  of  doubt  that  any  employee
retiring from the service  of  the  company/corporation  would  qualify  for
payment of pension if he/she has rendered a minimum of ten years of  service
on the date of retirement.
The expression ‘retirement’ has been defined  in
para 2 (t) of the Pension Scheme 1995 as under:

           “2 Definition:- In this Scheme,  unless  the  context  otherwise
           requires:-

           xxx              xxx                    xxx

           (t)   "retirement" means –


           (i)   the retirement in accordance with the provisions contained
                 in paragraph 12 of General Insurance  (Rationalisation  and
                 Revision of Pay Scales and Other Conditions of  Service  of
                 Supervisory, Clerical and  Subordinate  Staff)  Scheme,1974
                 notified under the notification of Government of India,  in
                 the  Ministry  of   Finance(Department   of   Revenue   and
                 Insurance) number S.O.326(E) dated the 27th May, 1974;
           (ii)  the retirement in accordance with the provisions contained
                 in paragraph  4  of  the  General  Insurance  (Termination,
                 Superannuation and Retirement of Officers  and  Development
                 Staff)   Scheme,   1976notified   under   notification   of
                 Government of India, in the Ministry of Finance (Department
                 of  Economic  Affairs)   number   S.O.627(E)   dated   21st
                 September,1976;
           (iii) voluntary retirement in  accordance  with  the  provisions
                 contained in paragraph 30 of this scheme;




8.    It was contended on behalf of the appellant-companies  that  in  terms
of para 6 of SVRS of 2004  (supra)  pension  will  be  admissible  to  those
seeking voluntary retirement only if they were eligible for the  same  under
the Pension Scheme 1995.
Para 30 of the Pension Scheme  1995  in  turn  made
only such employees eligible for pension who had completed twenty  years  of
qualifying  service.
Inasmuch  as  the  respondents  had   not   admittedly
completed twenty years of qualifying service on the date of their  voluntary
retirement, they were not eligible for  pension  under  the  Pension  Scheme
1995.

9.    On behalf of the respondents, it was argued that the  respondents  had
not sought voluntary retirement in terms of para 30 of  the  Pension  Scheme
1995 which is a general provision  and  which  stipulates  twenty  years  of
qualifying service for being eligible to claim pension nor  was  it  a  case
where the SVRS of 2004  either  specifically  or  by  necessary  implication
adopted para 30 of the Pension Scheme 1995 for determining  the  eligibility
of those seeking retirement under the said scheme.  The respondents had,  it
was contended, voluntarily retired pursuant to the SVRS of  2004  which  was
different from what was envisaged under para 30 of the Pension Scheme  1995.
The condition of eligibility for  pension  stipulated  under  para  30  viz.
twenty years of qualifying service had, therefore,  no  application  to  the
respondents implying thereby that the claim for pension ought to be seen  in
the light of Para 14 of the Pension Scheme 1995  treating  retirement  under
the Special Scheme of 2004 also as a retirement for  the  purposes  of  that
para.

10.   We find considerable force in the contention urged on  behalf  of  the
respondents. The Pension Scheme 1995 provides for  “superannuation  pension”
and “pension on voluntary retirement”. Superannuation pension  is  regulated
by para 29 of the Pension Scheme 1995 while voluntary retirement pension  is
governed by para 30 which read as under:

           “29. Superannuation Pension:  Subject  to  the  other  condition
           contained in this scheme, an employee who has rendered a minimum
           ten years of service in the Corporation or  a  Company,  on  the
           date of retirement shall qualify for pension.


           30. Pension on voluntary retirement: (1) At any  time  after  an
           employee has completed twenty years of  qualifying  service,  he
           may, by giving notice of not less than ninety days,  writing  to
           the appointing authority, retire from service.


                 xxx              xxx              xxx


            (5)  The qualifying service of an employee retiring  voluntarily
           under  this  paragraph  shall  be  increased  by  a  period  not
           exceeding five years, subject to the condition  that  the  total
           qualifying service rendered by the employee  shall  not  in  any
           case exceed thirty years and it does not  take  him  beyond  the
           date of retirement.”


           (6)   The pension of an employee retiring under  this  paragraph
           shall be based on the average emoluments as defined under clause
           (d) of  paragraph  2  of  this  scheme  and  the  increase,  not
           exceeding five  years  in  his  qualifying  service,  shall  not
           entitle him to any notional fixation of pay for the  purpose  of
           calculating his pension”



11.   The SVRS of 2004 does not obviously rest  the  claim  for  payment  of
pension on any one of the above two provisions.  
That  is  because  what  is
claimed by the  employees-  respondents  before  us  is  not  superannuation
pension nor is it pension on voluntary  retirement  within  the  meaning  of
para 30 (supra).  
As a matter of fact, para 6 (1)(c) of  the  SVRS  of  2004
specifically provides that the notional benefit of additional five years  to
be added to the service of the retiring employee as stipulated  in  para  30
of the pension scheme shall not be admissible for  purposes  of  determining
the quantum of pension and commutation of  pension.   
It  follows  that  the
SVRS of 2004 did not for the purposes of grant of pension adopt  the  scheme underlying para 30 of the Pension Scheme 1995.  
Such  being  the  case,  the question is 
whether the provisions of para 6 of the SVRS of 2004  read  with
para 14  of  the  Pension  Scheme  1995  which  stipulates  only  ten  years qualifying service for an employee who retires from service to  entitle  him to claim pension would entitle those retiring pursuant to the SVRS  of  2004 also to claim pension. Our answer is in the affirmative.  
If  paras  29  and
30 do not govern the entitlement for those seeking the benefit  of  SVRS  of
2004, the only other provision  which  can  possibly  be  invoked  for  such
pension is para 14 (supra) that  prescribes  a  qualifying  service  of  ten
years only as a condition of eligibility. 
The only  impediment  in  adopting
that interpretation lies in the use of the word ‘retirement’ in Para  14  of
the Pension Scheme 1995. 
A restricted meaning to that  expression  may  mean
that Para 14 provides only for retirements in terms of Para  (2)(t)  (i)  to
(iii) which includes voluntary retirement in accordance with the  provisions
contained in Para 30 of the Pension Scheme. 
There  is,  however,  no  reason
why the expression ‘retirement’ should receive  such  a  restricted  meaning
especially when the context in which that expression is  being  examined  by
us would justify  a  more  liberal  interpretation;  not  only  because  the
provision for payment of pension is a beneficial provision  which  ought  to
be interpreted more liberally to favour grant rather  than  refusal  of  the
benefit  but  also  because  the  Voluntary  Retirement  Scheme  itself  was
intended  to  reduce  surplus  manpower  by  encouraging,  if  not  alluring
employees to opt for retirement by offering  them  benefits  like  ex-gratia
payment and pension  not  otherwise  admissible  to  the  employees  in  the
ordinary course. We are, therefore, inclined to  hold  that  the  expression
“Retirement” appearing in Para 14 of the  Pension  scheme  1995  should  not
only apply to cases which fall under Para 30 of the said scheme but also  to
a case falling under a Special Voluntary  Retirement  Scheme  of  2004.   So
interpreted, those opting for voluntary retirement under the  said  SVRS  of
2004 would also qualify for payment of  pension  as  they  had  put  in  the
qualifying service of ten years stipulated under  Para  14  of  the  Pension
Scheme 1995.

12.   We are mindful of the fact that the word  ‘means’  used  in  statutory
definitions generally implies that the definition is exhaustive.   But  that
general rule of interpretation is not  without  an  exception.   An  equally
well-settled principle of  interpretation  is  that  the  use  of  the  word
‘means’ in a statutory definition notwithstanding the context in  which  the
expression is defined cannot be ignored in any forensic  exercise  meant  to
discover the real purport of an expression. Lord Denning’s  observations  in
Hotel and Catering Industry Training Board v.  Automobile  Proprietary  Ltd.
(1968) 1 W.L.R. 1526 are, in this regard, apposite when he said:

         “It is true that 'the industry' is defined; but a definition is not
         to be read in isolation. It must be read  in  the  context  of  the
         phrase  which  it  defines,  realising  that  the  function  of   a
         definition is to give precision and certainty to a word  or  phrase
         which would otherwise be vague and uncertain-but not to  contradict
         it or supplant it altogether”



13.   In The Vanguard Fire & General Insurance Co. Ltd. Madras v.  Fraser  &
Ross  &  Anr.  AIR  1960  SC  971  one  of  the  questions  that  fell   for
determination before this Court was  whether  the  definition  of  the  word
“insurer” included a person intending to carry on a  business  or  a  person
who has ceased to carry on a business. It was contended that the  definition
started with the words “insurer means” and, therefore, is exhaustive.   This
Court  repelling  that  contention  held  that  statutory   definitions   or
abbreviations must be read subject to the qualification variously  expressed
in the definition clauses which created them and it may be that  even  where
the definition is exhaustive inasmuch as the word defined is said to mean  a
certain thing, it is possible for the word  to  have  a  somewhat  different
meaning in different sections of the Act depending upon the subject  or  the
context. That is why all definitions in statutes generally  begin  with  the
qualifying words “unless there is  anything  repugnant  in  the  subject  or
context”.  This Court observed:

           “The main basis of this contention is the definition of the word
           "insurer" in the s.2(9)  of the Act. It is pointed out that that
           definition  begins  with  the  words  "insurer  means"  and   is
           therefore exhaustive. It may be accepted that generally the word
           "insurer" has been defined for the purposes of the Act to mean a
           person or body corporate, etc., which is  actually  carrying  on
           the business of  insurance,  i.e.,  the  business  of  effecting
           contracts of insurance of whatever kind they might be.  But  s.2
           begins with the words "in this Act,  unless  there  is  anything
           repugnant in the subject or context" and then come  the  various
           definition clauses of which (9) is one. It is well settled  that
           all statutory definitions or abbreviations must be read  subject
           to the  qualification  variously  expressed  in  the  definition
           clauses which created them and it may be  that  even  where  the
           definition is exhaustive inasmuch as the word defined is said to
           mean a certain thing, it is possible for  the  word  to  have  a
           somewhat different meaning in  different  sections  of  the  Act
           depending upon the subject or  the  context.  That  is  why  all
           definitions in statues generally being with the qualifying words
           similar to the words used in the present  case,  namely,  unless
           there is anything repugnant in the subject or context. therefore
           in finding out the meaning to  the  word  "insurer"  in  various
           sections of the Act, the meaning to be ordinarily given to it is
           that given in the definition clause. But this is not  inflexible
           and there may be sections in the Act where the meaning may  have
           to be departed from on account of  the  subject  or  context  in
           which the word has been used and that will be giving  effect  to
           the opening sentence in the definition section,  namely,  unless
           there is anything repugnant in the subject or context.  In  view
           of this qualification, the court has not only  to  look  at  the
           words but also to look at the context, the collocation  and  the
           object of such words relating to such matter and  interpret  the
           meaning intended to be conveyed by the use of  the  words  under
           the  circumstances.  Therefore,  though  ordinarily   the   word
           "insurer" as used in  the  Act  would  mean  a  person  or  body
           corporate actually carrying on the business of insurance it  may
           be that in  certain  sections  the  word  may  have  a  somewhat
           different meaning.”




                                                         (emphasis supplied)



14.   To the same effect is the decision of this Court in  Paul  Enterprises
& Ors. v. Rajib Chatterjee and Co. & Ors. (2009) 3 SCC 709 where this  Court
once again reiterated that the  interpretation  clause  should  be  given  a
contextual meaning and that all statutory definitions must be  read  subject
to the qualification  variously  expressed  in  the  interpretation  clause,
which created them. In State of Maharashtra &  Anr.  v.  B.E.  Billimoria  &
Ors. (2003) 7 SCC 336 also this Court restated the  principle  that  meaning
of an expression must be determined in the context in  which  the  same  has
been used.  Reference may also be made to  K.V.  Muthu  v.  Angamuthu  Ammal
(1997) 2 SCC 53 where this Court made the following apposite observations:

           “Apparently, it appears that the definition is conclusive as the
           word "means" has been  used  to  specify  the  members,  namely,
           spouse, son, daughter,  grand-child  or  dependent  parent,  who
           would constitute the family. Section  2  of  the  Act  in  which
           various terms have been defined, open with the  words  "in  this
           Act, unless the context otherwise requires" which indicates that
           the definitions, as for example, that  of  "Family",  which  are
           indicated to be conclusive may not be treated to  be  conclusive
           if it was otherwise required by the context. This implies that a
           definition, like any other word in a statute, has to be read  in
           the light of the context and scheme  of  the  Act  as  also  the
           object for which the Act was made by the Legislature.

           While interpreting a definition, it has to be borne in mind that
           the interpretation placed on it should not only be not repugnant
           to the context,  it  should  also  be  such  as  would  aid  the
           achievement of the purpose which is sought to be served  by  the
           Act. A construction which would defeat or was likely  to  defeat
           the purpose of the Act has to be ignored and not accepted.

           Where the definition or expression, as in the instant  case,  is
           preceded by the words "unless the context  otherwise  requires",
           the said definition set out in the Section is to be applied  and
           given effect to but this rule, which is the normal rule  may  be
           departed from if there be something in the context to show  that
           the definition could not be applied”.

                                                         (emphasis supplied)




15.   We may also gainfully refer to the decision of this Court  in  Reserve
Bank of India v. Peerless General Finance (1987) 1 SCC 424 where this  Court
declared that the best interpretation is the one in which the  Court  relies
upon not only the test but also the context in which the provision has  been
made.  We can do no better than to extract the following passage  from  that
decision:

           “Interpretation must depend on the text and  the  context.  They
           are the bases of interpretation. One may well say if the text is
           the texture, context is what gives the colour.  Neither  can  be
           ignored. Both are important. That interpretation is  best  which
           makes the textual interpretation match the contextual. A statute
           is best interpreted when we know why it was enacted.  With  this
           knowledge, the statute must be read, first as a whole  and  then
           section by section, clause by clause, phrase by phrase and  word
           by word. If a statute is  looked  at,  in  the  context  of  its
           enactment, with the glasses of  the  statutemaker,  provided  by
           such context, its scheme, the  sections,  clauses,  phrases  and
           words may take colour and appear different than when the statute
           is looked at without the glasses provided by the  context.  With
           these glasses we must look at the Act as a  whole  and  discover
           what each section, each clause, each phrase  and  each  word  is
           meant and designed to say as to  fit  into  the  scheme  of  the
           entire Act. No part of a statute and no word of a statute can be
           construed in isolation. Statutes have to be  construed  so  that
           every word has a place and everything is in its place.”

                                                         (emphasis supplied)



16.   In the case at hand Para 2  of  the  Pension  Scheme  1995  (extracted
earlier) defines the expressions  appearing  in  the  scheme.  But  what  is
important is that such  definitions  are  good  only  if  the  context  also
supports the meaning assigned to the expressions defined by  the  definition
clause. The context in which the question whether pension is  admissible  to
an employee who has opted for voluntary retirement  under  the  2004  scheme
assumes importance as Para 2 of the scheme starts with the  words  “In  this
scheme, unless the context otherwise requires”.  There  is  nothing  in  the
context of 1995 Scheme which would exclude its  beneficial  provisions  from
application to employees who have opted for voluntary retirement  under  the
Special Scheme 2004 or vice versa.  
The term retirement must in the  context
of the two schemes, and the  admissibility  of  pension  to  those  retiring
under the SVRS of 2004, include retirement not only under  Para  30  of  the
Pension Scheme 1995 but also those retiring  under  the  Special  Scheme  of
2004. 
That apart any provision for  payment  of  pension  is  beneficial  in
nature which ought to receive a liberal interpretation so as  to  serve  the
object underlying not only of the Pension Scheme 1995 but also  any  special
scheme under which employees have been given the option  to  seek  voluntary
retirement upon completion of the prescribed number of years of service  and
age.

17.   In the result these appeals fail and are hereby dismissed but  in  the
circumstances without any order as to costs.




                                                        ……………………….……….…..…J.
                                                               (T.S. THAKUR)






                                                       …………..…………………..…..…J.
                                                            (VIKRAMAJIT SEN)
New Delhi
January 10, 2014

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