Upholding a Central Administrative Tribunal rpt Tribunal order, the Madras High Court today said right of government servants to receive pension is not a bounty and it is a statutory right conferred under the pension rules applicable from the date when the government servant was appointed, either on daily wage, temporary or permanent basis.
A Division Bench, comprising Justice N.Paul Vasanthakumar and Justice M.Sathyanarayanan was dismissing a writ petition filed by Ministry of Atomic Energy, and Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research (IGCAR), Kalpakkam challenging the order passed by Central Administrative Tribunal.
In its order, the bench said it was an undisputed fact that the 16 petitioner employees had been appointed as casual labourers and subsequently conferred temporary status from December 31, 1999.
".. merely because they have been absorbed permanently in the year 2005 in Group 'D' service, they cannot be denied of their statutory right," the court said.
Earlier CAT had allowed the original application filed by the 16 employees to extend the benefit of pension under old Pension Scheme, Central Civil Service (Pension) Rules, 1972 as they were granted temporary status with effect from December 31, 1999 on conditions, among others, that 50% of their service rendered under temporary status would be counted for the purpose of retirement benefits after their superannuation.
This was challenged by IGCAR, stating that persons who joined in service on or after January 1, 2004 were governed by the new pension scheme. The CAT rejected it following which IGCAR filed the present petition.
IGCAR had engaged 50 Casual labourers for cleaning and assisting Technicians and Scientists Carrying out the task in various laboratories of IGCAR. Out of 50, 34 casual labourers were regularized prior to January 1,2004.
The court said a person already in service either as contingent staff or temporary staff continuously and absorbed in permanent establishment on or after Jan 1,2004 cannot be termed 'new entrant' into service.The new pension scheme can be applied only to persons appointed for the first time as casual or temporary or permanent employee on or after January 1,2004.
The bench clarified that the 50 casual employees appointed by the IGCAR being a class, there cannot be any classification within them, subsequently made as temporary employees and absorbed as Group 'D' employees.
While quoting Supreme Court Judgements the bench said these 16 employees cannot be treated as 'Fresh appointees' for the purpose of applying new pension scheme and upheld the order of CAT while dismissing the petition from IGCAR.