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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 =

 

English: The supreme court of india. Taken abo...

English: The supreme court of india. Taken about 170 m from the main building outside the perimeter wall (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 


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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