Author : Sheetal Maggon
IV (2006) SLT 440
HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE B.N. SRIKRISHNA AND HON’BLE MR. JUSTICE LOKESHWAR SINGH PANTA
HON’BLE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
DATE OF JUDGMENT
APRIL 27, 2006
This case was heard before Hon’ble Supreme Court of India. Aggrieved by the judgment of the Hon’ble High Court of Bihar, the appellant approached the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India. This case deals with the judgment of Supreme Court regarding the laws related to pension made by State Government of Bihar.
The Government of Bihar amended some provisions in The Bihar State Government Employees Revision of Pension, Family Pension and death cum Retirement Gratuity (Validation and Enforcement) Act, 2001.
The provisions shall apply to all the government officials or servants who retires or die in harness except from those who retires or dies from January 1, 1986 to February 28, 1989. The effective date was January 1, 1986 and the notification declared that the financial benefits of revision of pension would be admissible only with effect from January 1, 1986 and no arrears would be paid for the period January 1, 1986 to February 28, 1989.
Apart from this, some more changes were made by the State Government of Bihar in Death-cum Retirement Gratuity. An organization representing the pensioners in Bihar named Bihar Pensioner Samaj approached High Court of Patna through writ petition saying that the above said provisions unconstitutional saying that it is violation of Article 14 of the Indian Constitution.
They said that it is a clear case of violation of right to equality by not including the retired government officials and servants from the said date. They equally deserve to have access to such provisions. This writ petition was allowed, by which the two notifications in question were quashed and the State Government was directed to reconsider the matter “in accordance with law and in the light of the observations made above.” The Hon’ble High Court of Patna agreeing with Bihar Pension Samaj held that everyone should be given access to provisions made by the state legislature. Not including retired servants from a fixed date amount to violation of Article 14 of the Indian Constitution i.e. Right to Equality.
Aggrieved by the decision of Patna High Court, Government of Bihar approached the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India through Special Leave Petition which was dismissed by the apex court. Again, the appellants approached the apex court through writ petition.
ISSUES AND FACTS OF LAW
Whether or not The Bihar State Government Employees Revision of Pension, Family Pension and Death-cum Retirement Gratuity (Validation and Enforcement) Act is constitutional or not?
CASES RELIED UPON IN THE JUDGMENT
- State of Orissa & Ors. v. Bhupendra Kumar Bose & Ors., AIR 1962 SC 945
- Bakhtawar Trust & Ors. v. M.D. Narayan & Ors., III (2003) SLT 793
- State of Punjab & Ors. v. Amar Nath Goyal & Ors., IV (2005) SLT 313
Relied upon the various judgments that have been mentioned above, the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India set aside the decision of Hon’ble High Court of Patna and held both the provisions constitutional saying that no fundamental rights have been violated.
It is said by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India that the State Government has all the rights to revise or rationalize its pension scheme either on the same pattern as followed by the Government of India or to form its own scheme and to also fix a cut-off date.
The Hon’ble Court was of view that, it is true that the judgment delivered by the High Court under Article 226 must be respected but that is not to say that the Legislature is incompetent to deal with problems raised by the said judgment if the said problems and their proposed solutions are otherwise within their legislative competence. It would, we think, be erroneous to equate the judgment of the High Court under Article 226 with Article 226 itself and confer upon it all the attributes of the said constitutional provision.
It has been held that the said provisions are not violative of part III of the Indian Constitution and the State Legislature is competent to bring such changes. There has been no violation of any other provision of the constitution as well and no infringement of basic features of the constitution has taken place.
The Hon’ble Court held that the above said provisions shall have validity and overriding effect. The above stated act shall be valid. It means that, notwithstanding any judgment, decree or order of any Court, Tribunal or Authority the Government Resolution Nos. 1853 (F) and 1854 (F) both dated 19th April, 1990 would be deemed to have been enforced from 1st March, 1989 and the benefits of pension/ family pension and gratuity given to the Government employees under the said two Resolutions would be deemed to have been due to the employees w.e.f. 1st March, 1989 only and the said date would be deemed always to have been the cut-off date for the said two Resolutions. Having overriding effect means that, notwithstanding anything to the contrary contained in any judgment decree or order passed by any Court, Tribunal or Authority and in any other law for the time, being in force the provisions of the above stated revised Act shall prevail and have effect.
It has been held in a catena of judgments that fixing of a cut-off date for granting of benefits is well within the powers of the Government as long as the reasons therefor are not arbitrary and are based on some rational consideration.
The apex court also stated that there is no contention justifying the striking down of the The Bihar State Government Employees Revision of Pension, Family Pension and death cum Retirement Gratuity (Validation and Enforcement) Act, 2001. Therefore, the only argument in favor of striking down having been found unacceptable, the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India was of view that the impugned judgment of the Hon’ble High Court of Patna is erroneous and needs to be interfered with. Hence, this court allowed the appeal and set aside the judgment of the High Court and declared the said revised provisions constitutional.