Gauhati HC: ‘Big-Hearted’ University Pension Scheme Valid but Unavailable To Petitioning Retired Employee

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Different petitioners have filed several petitions claiming the pensions to the teaching and non-teaching employees of Dibrugarh University. The Respondents blamed several withstanding issues as an excuse for not paying the required amount timely.

Facts of case 

After the alteration of the Dibrugarh University Act, 1965, the Executive Council of the Dibrugarh University in its 320th Meeting held on 13.08.2013, had endorsed and embraced the Dibrugarh University Pension Rules, 2013 and the Dibrugarh University General Provident Asset Rules, 2013. By the notification dated 05.12.2013, the Executive Council of the Dibrugarh University in its 322nd Meeting held on 14.03.2014 ratified the grant of one-third of the amount of monthly pension due to the retired employee of the University as interim pension with effect from November 2013.

The Director of Higher Education, Assam by the letter dated 21.02.2015 addressed that the budget proposal for the pensionary benefit and non-salary in respect of Universities for the year 2015—16 had not been accepted by the finance commission on demands for MOU  of the concerned Universities with the State Government. Accordingly, it was requested to take necessary action for the signing of the MoU for early approval of the budget proposal by the State Government.  The petitioner states that the MOU has merely been drafted by the university but not yet signed. According to the notification passed by the Executive Council of the University, in its 327th meeting one-third of interim pension, that has been released to the eligible retired employees of the Dibrugarh University shall be ceased w.e.f. the month of October 2015, due to the non-release of funds by the Government, towards the pension for eligible retired employees of the University.

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From there on another notification dated 09.11.2015 was given, telling that the Dibrugarh College is constrained to briefly suspend the disbursal of the 1/third interval benefits being delivered to the qualified resigned representatives of the University w.e.f. November 2015, due to non-arrival of funds by the Government.

Being aggrieved by the action of the University authority, the petitioner association submitted various representations before the Registrar of the Dibrugarh University, the Executive Council of the Dibrugarh University, and the Chief Minister of Assam, which yielded no result.

Arguments made on behalf of the petitioner

It was presented that a measure of Rs.200 lacs, given in the budgetary provision of 2014—15 of the Govt. of Assam with the end goal of instalment of pensionary advantages to the retired workers, have effectively been delivered and saved in the record of the Dibrugarh College and, consequently, the resigned representatives of the University should have paid the full measure of annuity however paid just 1/third of the benefits, and along these lines, the University authority had submitted a genuine monetary abnormality by not paying the full benefits.

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The writ petitioners submitted that it is a fit case for this Court to meddle in the exercise of the uncommon purview under Article 226 of the Constitution of India by giving a writ in the idea of certiorari saving the criticized warnings dated 05.10.2015 and 09.11.2015 of the Dibrugarh University.  Mr K N Choudhury learned Senior Counsel for the petitioners submitted that submitted in fervency that by the unethical provisions of conceding benefits in the Act itself, present petitioner, being the retired representatives accumulated a legal stand to get their ordinary benefits and the same cannot be frustrated away via administrative order as has been given by the University concerned.

It was encouraged that if there is any contention among notice and the enactment, the latter would win.  It was urged that such notification curbing the statutory right of the petitioners, cannot prevail over the statutory right conferred under Section 30 A of the Amendment Act.

Arguments made on behalf of the respondent

The respondent Nos. 1, 2, and 3, in their affidavit-in-opposition, have admitted that the DU has received Rs. 2,00,00,000/-(Rupees Two Crores) only under the head of the pensionary benefit from the Government of Assam. However, stated that the said amount falls far short of the funds required for making payment of pensionary benefit and as a result, the University was forced to make withdrawals/adjustment from the general fund of the University.

Respondent No. 5, i.e., the Commissioner and Secretary to the Government of Assam, Education (Higher) Department, Dispur, Assam, in its oath, has expressed that as per the Dibrugarh University (Amendment) Act, 2013, the Government of Assam in the Education (Higher) Department authorized asset adding up to Rs. 200 lacs as Grants-in-aid for pensionary liabilities to DU for the year 2014-2015, vide letter dated 09.02.2015.

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From that point, on 21.02.2015, the Registrar, DU was mentioned to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the State Government for making budgetary arrangements for the instalment of pay rates and pensionary duty. in their second extra sworn statement dated 19.02.2021, the respondent Nos. 1, 2, and 3, as respects the MOU between the DU and the Govt. of Assam, have expressed that they compliant with the ideas got from the Director of Higher Education, Assam, and the Joint Secretary to the Govt. Of Assam, Higher Education Office for rolling out certain improvements in the draft MOU the Dibrugarh University agreed with something similar by rolling out the vital improvements and from there on, imparted something similar to the said authorities vide letters dated 09.05.2016.

Judgment

Upon hearing the arguments made from both sides and evidence produced the court stated that Neither the legitimate claim of the petitioners nor the stand taken by the Dibrugarh University can be discarded in the light of the factual background as well as the pleadings between the parties.

Hence, the court stated various steps taken to ensure that MOU be granted and the pension scheme be drafted to benefit all parties involved in the future. But the same was not granted to the present petitioner. They reasoned that One needs to give a liberal translation towards the execution of such a big-hearted plan of the Government, which focuses on friendly security of the resigned workers, a hyper-specialized methodology would baffle the object of the Statute.

Click here to read the judgment.


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