Read Judgment:  Sitala Mandal (chaudhuri) V. State of West Bengal & Ors. 

Pankaj Bajpai

Kolkata, February 9, 2022: Highlighting that an employee is entitled to receive pension from the day following the date of superannuation, the Calcutta High Court has opined that the State Government ought to appreciate that not paying pension to the pensioners from the date following their superannuation even though the pensioners refunded the employer’s share of contribution with interest , will amount to unlawful enrichment by depriving the pensioners of their rightful dues.

The Single Judge, Amrita Sinha,  therefore directed the Director of Pension, Provident Fund and Group Insurance and the concerned Treasury Officer to verify the records, and in the event, it was found, that the employee exercised option and refunded the employer’s share of contribution within the time specified in the Education Department notification, then steps shall be taken to issue Revised Pension Payment Order in favour of the employee with effect from the date following the date of retirement on superannuation and to release the pension in accordance with the Revised Pension Payment Order. 

Going by the background of the case, Sitala Mandal (Petitioner – Employee) retired from service on attaining the age of superannuation on November 30, 2011. Later, in response to the notification published by the School Education Department dated June 13, 2014 issued in compliance of the direction passed by the Special Bench of this Court in the judgment dated July 16, 2013 in the matter of District Inspector of Schools (S.E.), Kolkata vs. Abhijit Baidya, the petitioner exercised option to switch over from CPF to GPF and refunded the employer’s share of contribution with interest and additional interest on September 3, 2014.

Thereafter, Pension Payment Order was issued in favour of the petitioner with effect from September 3, 2014, that is the date of refund of the employer’s share of contribution. Now, the grievance of the petitioner was that the Pension Payment Order was erroneously issued on and from the date of refund of the employer’s share of contribution with interest and additional interest instead from the date following retirement.

After considering the submissions, Justice Sinha found that this Court in District Inspector of Schools (S.E.), Kolkata vs. Abhijit Baidya, 2013 (3) CHN (CAL) 711, has laid down that if the employee exercises option he shall be entitled to pension cum gratuity, in accordance with law, with effect from the date refund is made. 

In compliance of the direction passed in Abjijit Baidya’s case, the State Government issued notification on June 13, 2014 giving three months’ time to the employees to refund the employer’s share of contribution with interest and additional interest if the employee elects to switch over to Pension-cum-Gratuity Scheme, added the Single Judge.

Justice Sinha also noted that the petitioner refunded the employer’s share of contribution along with interest and additional interest within the time specified in the notification dated June 13, 2014.

Therefore, the State ought to appreciate that as the employee refunded the amount of employer’s share of contribution along with interest and additional interest calculated till the date of refund, accordingly, the State cannot negate the claim of the employee to receive pension on and from the date following retirement, added the Single Judge.

Quoting the judgment in Abhijit Baidya’s Case (Supra), the High Court clarified that the benefit of a judgment passed in rem will not be restricted only in respect of pending writ petitions and the same will be applicable in respect of similarly situated persons. 

The State has received interest as well as additional interest for the period the employee enjoyed the employer’s contribution, and the moment the said share is refunded, the employee becomes entitled to receive pension on and from the date following his date of superannuation, added the Court.

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