RATILAL HIRALAL PATEL Vs. STATE OF GUJARAT
HIGH COURT OF GUJARAT
RATILAL HIRALAL PATEL
STATE OF GUJARAT
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(1.) This petition is filed by the petitioners who were in Government service and who have now retired. They are eligible for pension under a scheme of the State Government previously in force. The contention raised by the petitioners in this petition is that the State Government has evolved a liberalised scheme of pension for its superannuated employees by various resolutions and that the petitioners are entitled to get the benefits thereunder. The State Government has by its resolution No. PCR/5175/29/M dated 29-10-1975 and resolution No. NVN. 1079/1688-P dated 5-7-1979 and resolution No. NVN-1079/ 1598 dated 12-7-1979 brought about certain liberalisation in the pension of its employees. In the aforesaid resolutions the Government had mentioned the dates on which those resolutions were to come in force which may for the sake of convenience be referred as cut-off dates. In the case of first resolution dated 29-10-75 the cut off date was specified as 1-1-1973. By the second resolution dated 5-7-79 the cut-off date was mentioned to be 30-9-77 and by the third resolution dated 12-7-79 the cut-off date specified was 31-3-79. According to the said resolutions those Government servants who retired after the cut- off date were eligible to get pension under the relevant resolution with the result that those Government Servants who had retired prior to the cut-off dates were not eligible to get the benefit of the liberalisa- tion in the Pension Scheme brought about by that particular resolution. The present petitioners have challenged this part of the resolution wherein the benefits of the liberalised pension scheme were to be restricted to only the employees retiring after the cut-off date.
(2.) Mr. S. N. Shelat the learned Counsel for the petitioners submits that the Government policy in restricting the benefits of the aforesaid liberalised scheme of pension under the said resolution to only those Government servants who retired after the cut-off date creates an irrational classification between the servants who retired before and after the cut-off date. Mr. Shelat has relied on the judgment of the Supreme Court in D. S. NAKARA AND OTHERS V. UNION OF INDIA REPORTED IN A. I. R. 1983 S. C. 130 wherein the Supreme Court has gone into this question in respect of the similar pension liberalisation scheme evolved by the Union of India in respect of its own servants. The Supreme Court has held in clear terms that the classification sought by allowing the benefits of the liberalised pension scheme to the servants retiring after the cut-off date is an irrational classification and therefore it is discriminatory in nature and contrary to the provisions of Article 14 of the Constitution of India. The Supreme Court has considered this question from various angles and has decided that the object and purpose of bringing about a liberalised scheme of pension is to obviate hardship faced by the retired Govern. ment servants on account of ever increasing cost of living and high degree of inflation. In this respect the Supreme Court has pointed out that all the Government servants stand on the same footing irrespective of whether they retired before or after the cut-off date The Supreme Court has also held that the fixation of the cut-off date is arbitrary in nature and therefore the same cannot be sustained. The decision of the Supreme Court is fully applicable to this case although the Supreme Court decision was in respect of the application to the liberalised pension scheme of the Union of India whereas in the present petition the pension scheme under challenge is that of the State Government. That makes no difference because the State Government has categorically stated in its letter dated 7-8-81 Ref. No. NBN. 1081/1575/5 in reply to the representation made by or on behalf of some of the petitioners that the State Government has adopted the liberalised pension policy of the Union of India. Hence the ratio of the Supreme Court would apply to the facts of the present case.
(3.) Mr. M. A. Panchal the learned Counsel for the respondent-State is unable to point out any distinguishing point between the Central Government Pension Scheme and that of the State Government Pension Scheme and hence he found it difficult to distinguish the aforesaid Supreme Court Judgment. Therefore the contentions raised by the petitioners have to be upheld and the relief claimed by the petitioners should be granted. It is therefore held that the benefits of the liberalised pension scheme as evolved by the State Government in its aforesaid resolutions will be applicable not only to the Government servants who are superannuated on or after the cut-off date but those benefits will be available also to the Government servants who have been superannuated prior to the cut-off dates mentioned in these resolutions. In other words all the pensioners who are covered by the aforesaid resolution would stand on the same footing and shall be treated equally. There shall be no discrimination among them on the ground of their date of retirement.;
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