Kochi, July 14, 2021: The Kerala High Court has held that any deduction from the pension of state employees towards the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund must be made only if such employees give specific consent for the same.
Noticing forcible deductions which were challenged in the present petition filed by two former employees of the Kerala State Electricity Board, Justice Devan Ramchandran ordered the Board to refund any money deducted by them from the amount payable to the pensioners.
The instant petition was filed by the previous employees with respect to the payment of pension in the services of the Kerala State Electricity Board, alleging that under the aegis of a “Vaccine Challenge” coalesced to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund, certain portion of their pension was being withheld.
It was also specifically alleged in the petition that the retirees had not agreed to any contribution, nor have they consented that their pension be reduced in any manner for such purpose.
“Normally, any contribution to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund or such other can be effected only with full volition of the contributor and cannot be a matter of compulsion or forced compliance, unless there is a valid law which sanctions such,” said the Bench.
The High Court also said: “The KSEB or the State have no case – even whisperingly – that the petitioners or other employees – serving or retired – are under any legally sanctioned obligation to suffer any remittance under the ‘Vaccine Challenge’.”
Upon finding that the KSEB has unequivocally agreed to refund the amounts deducted from the pension of the petitioners, the High Court allowed the petition with a consequential direction to the respondents to refund the amounts deducted from the pension.