UNITED BANK OF INDIA Vs. AMARESH NARAYAN CHOWDHURY
HIGH COURT OF GAUHATI
UNITED BANK OF INDIA
Amaresh Narayan Chowdhury
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Manojit Bhuyan, J. -
(1.) The respondent/writ petitioner Sri Amaresh Narayan Choudhury was serving as the Branch Manager in the Bharalumukh Branch of United Bank of India. He was proceeded against departmentally on charges of exposing the Bank to financial risks, which were held to be proved. On consideration of the enquiry report, the disciplinary authority imposed penalty of removal from service vide order dated 12.10.1999. W.P.(C) 6350/2001 so filed assailing the removal order was dismissed but on appeal in W.A. 113/2006, the said removal order was set aside vide order dated 30-01-2009. Matter was remanded to the Bank authorities to take a fresh decision with further direction that following de novo decision in the matter, all consequential reliefs as may reasonably flow to Sri Amaresh Narayan Choudhury, including protection of pension, should be afforded to him. Court observed that he had retired from service in the year 2002. Bank passed de novo order dated 24.12.2009 imposing penalty of compulsory retirement with effect from 12.10.1999 with superannuation benefits i.e. Pension and/or Provident Fund and Gratuity as would be due otherwise under the rules and regulations prevailing in the United Bank of India in substitution of the punishment of removal from service earlier imposed. This order of compulsory retirement, which was challenged in W.P.(C) 1531/2011, was partly allowed vide order dated 26.06.2012. Besides making a direction to the Bank to refund an amount of Rs.22,734/-, which the writ petitioner alleged that it had been wrongly deducted from his provident fund account, a direction was also made that as regards the claim for pension under the "One more option to Pension" scheme, which option the writ petitioner had already exercised, the Bank authorities will take a considered decision, keeping in mind the order of the Division Bench in the aforesaid W.A. 113/2006 for protection of his pension. Writ appeal preferred by the Bank through W.A. 21/2013 was dismissed by observing that the direction issued by the learned single Judge was eminently fair. Bank's decision in terms of directions above was rendered vide order dated 12.03.2013 and the claim for grant of pension under the "One more option to Pension" scheme was rejected. Aggrieved, the related writ petition i.e. W.P.(C) 5144/2014 was instituted. The same having been allowed vide judgment and order dated 05.11.2015, the present appeal is laid by the Bank. Learned single Judge made direction to the Bank to process the option submitted by the writ petitioner Sri Amaresh Narayan Choudhury for pension under the "One more option to Pension" scheme, subject to fulfillment of other eligibility criteria, within a time-bound period.
(2.) Apparently, the respondent/writ petitioner Sri Amaresh Narayan Choudhury was compulsorily retired by way of punishment.
It is primarily in this context the Bank pleads that he is not entitled to the benefit of pension under the "another option for joining the existing Pension Scheme", which was introduced by the Memorandum of Settlement dated 27.04.2010 (in short the "MoS dated 27-04-2010") executed by and between the concerned stake-holders and incorporated in the United Bank of India (Employees) Pension Regulations, 1995 (in short the "Pension Regulations").
(3.) The above being the crux, it would be necessary to amplify on it. To start with, Clause 2(II)(a) of the MoS dated 27.04.2010 may be noticed, which reads as:
"(2) Another option for joining the existing Pension Scheme shall be extended to those employees who:
(II)(a) were in service of the bank prior to 29th September, 1995 in case of Nationalized Banks/26th March, 1996 in case of Associate Banks of State Bank of India and retired after the date and prior to the date of this Settlement;";
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