whether the respondents were entitled, as of right, to one more opportunity to switch-over from the Contributory Provident Fund Scheme of which they were members, to the Pension Scheme and the General Provident Fund Scheme implemented by the appellant with effect from 28th November, 1988? – Apex court held that NO – set aside the High court order =
Broadly speaking, the contention of the respondents is that they were
unaware of the switch-over option since they were posted in remote areas of
Rajasthan, while the contention of the appellant is that a large number of
opportunities extending over 8 years were given to the respondents to
exercise the switch-over option and that they could not claim any right to
any further opportunity to make the switch over.
3. In our opinion, the contention of the appellant must be accepted and
the impugned judgment and order dated 17th May, 2012 accepting the
contention of the respondents has to be set aside.=
There can be no doubt about this proposition but when two
schemes are available to an employee, one being the CPF Scheme and the
other being the Pension Scheme, it is for the employee to choose the scheme
that he feels more comfortable with and appropriate for his purposes. No
employee can switch over back and forth from one scheme to another as per
his convenience. Once an employee has chosen to be a part of a particular
scheme, he continues to remain a member of that scheme unless an option to
switch over to another scheme is given to him.
70. Insofar as the present appeals are concerned, the respondents who are
members of the CPF Scheme were given several opportunities of switching
over to the Pension Scheme and the GPF Scheme under the Pension Regulations
and the GPF Regulations respectively but they chose not to do so. The
question whether under these circumstances pension is a bounty or a charity
becomes completely irrelevant. The entitlement to pension was available to
the respondents but they chose not to avail the entitlement for reasons
personal to them. Having taken a decision in this regard the respondents
cannot now raise an argument of pension not being a bounty and therefore
requiring the RSEB to give them another option to switch over to the
Pension and GPF Regulations.
71. Under the circumstances, we find no merit in the contentions urged by
the respondents and consequently, the appeals of the RSEB deserve to be
Civil Appeal No.7503/2014 (Arising out of SLP (C) No.30577 of 2012 (from
Civil Special Appeal (Writ) No.248 of 2012 in CWP No.13401 of 2008)
72. In this appeal, it is submitted by learned counsel that the facts are
slightly different from the rest of the appeals. It was submitted that the
writ petitioner had submitted his option on 20th February, 1996 and that
was forwarded to the concerned authorities on 6th March, 1996.
73. By a letter dated 10th April, 1996, the writ petitioner was informed
that since his option was conditional, it could not be accepted. The writ
petitioner responded to this by making a representation dated 20th April,
1996 to the effect that there was no condition attached to the exercise of
option. Nevertheless, he clarified that the alleged condition may be
treated as deleted and his option form may be considered. However, it
appears that the option form of the writ petitioner was not considered by
the concerned authorities and that led him to file a writ petition in the
Rajasthan High Court.
Civil Appeal No.7570/2014 (Arising out of SLP (C) No. 9990 of 2013 (from
Civil Special Appeal (Writ) No. 237 of 2012 in CWP No. 1079 of 2008)
74. Learned counsel submitted that the writ petitioner gave his switch-
over option well in time and in fact deductions from his salary had been
made under the GPF Scheme for several months thereafter.
75. It appears that the reason for not accepting the option given by the
writ petitioner was that he had taken a housing loan under the CPF Scheme
and was requested by a letter dated 18th March, 2000 to return the amount
so that his switch-over option could be considered. Since he failed to do
so, his option was not accepted. The writ petitioner denied receipt of the
letter dated 18th March, 2000 and reiterated that deductions had been made
from his salary under the GPF Scheme.
Civil Appeal No.7564/2014 (Arising out of SLP (C) No. 9983 of 2013 (from
Civil Special Appeal (Writ) No.257 of 2012 in CWP No. 12230 of 2009)
76. It is submitted that the writ petitioner exercised his option in 1996
and that was forwarded to the competent authority by his controlling
officer (Executive Engineer at Bhilwara) by a letter dated 30th March,
1996. Though the option form was received well within time, it was not
77. The entire facts of these cases are not before us nor has the learned
Single Judge of the High Court specifically discussed these cases.
78. Consequently, we are not in a position to give any decision in these
cases in view of the absence of full facts. We are of the view that the
more appropriate course of action to adopt in these matters would be to
remand them to a Single Judge of the High Court for fresh consideration on
merits after hearing the writ petitioners and the RSEB.
79. No other distinct or partially dissimilar case was pointed out to us
by any learned counsel although the learned Single Judge has made a
reference to a few of them.
80. All the appeals are allowed but with no order as to costs. Insofar
as Civil Appeals arising out of SLP (C) No.30577 of 2012, SLP (C) No.9990
of 2013 and SLP (C) No.9983 of 2013 are concerned they are remitted to a
Single Judge of the High Court for a fresh consideration on merits.