SHAKUNTALA MEHRISHI NEW DELHI Vs. NEW DELHI MUNICIPAL COMMITTEE
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA (FROM: DELHI)
SHAKUNTALA MEHRISHI,NEW DELHI
NEW DELHI MUNICIPAL COMMITTEE
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Ojha, J. -
(1.)The gravamen of the grievance of the petitioner is that even though she retired on 3 1 st October, 1977 on reaching the age of superannuation and even though she was entitled to pension, gratuity and other retirement benefits, the respondents have kept her deprived therefrom without any justification for all these long years. She has made a prayer that the respondents may be directed to make the requisite payments to her at least now when she was almost at the fag end of her life. Brief facts necessary for the decision of this petition are that the petitioner joined R. M. Arya Girls Patshala, New Delhi, which was an aided recognised school, as a primary teacher in the year 1952 and had been making contribution towards compulsory Provident Fund. On 17th October, 1975, the Administrator of the Delhi Administration in consultation with the Accountant General, Central Revenues, issued a notification in exercise of the power conferred on him by Rule 126 of the Delhi School Education Rules, 1973 (hereinafter referred to as the Rules) laying down detailed procedure for disbursement of pension and gratuity and accounting of General Provident Fund to the employees of the aided schools under the Delhi Education Act, 1973 (for short the Act) and the Rules framed thereunder. The said notification, inter alia, provided:
"Further Rule 126 of the Delhi School Education Rules, 1973 lays down that the Administrator shall, in consultation with the A.G.C.R. specify the detailed procedure for accounting of provident fund and payment of pension and gratuity to the employees of the aided schools.
In order to implement the provision referred to above the detailed procedure is prescribed hereafter. In regard to matters not spcified in the procedure the provisions of the Central Civil Services (Pension), Rules, 1972 as amended from time to time and other general provisions of the Act/Rules shall apply.
The employees of the aided schools shall be entitled to pension and/or gratuity in accordance with the provisions and procedure applicable to the employees of the similar categories of Delhi Administration under the existing pension rules as contained in the Central Civil Services (Pension) Rules, 1972 As amended from time to time. These rules shall be applibable to those employees of the aided schools who were appointed on or after the commencement of the Act/ Rules and also to the existing employees who opt for the pension and gratuity within the stipulated period in the prescribed pro forma."
(2.)The school in which the petitioner was working being an aided school under the Act and the notification aforesaid being applicable to its employees the petitioner made the requisite option in the prescribed pro forma on 29th January, 1976 which was duly countersigned by the Education Officer on 2nd April, 1976. After her retirement, the petitioner made several representations for payment of pension and gratuity etc. to the authorities concerned but each time the petitioner did not get any better response than an information that her case was under active consideration. By his letter dated 27th February, 1987, i.e. after. hearly 10 years of the petitioner's retirement, the Joint Director of Education (FIN.) old Secretariat, Delhi, conveyed to her an additional information apart from the usual one namely that her case was under active consideration, that further action in the matter will be taken by the Department soon after the proposal is approved by the Government of India. By a subsequent letter dated September 29, 1987, the petitioner was informed by the Education Officer that the Directorate of Education had referred the case to Government of India on 26th March, 1987 for policy decision. Ultimately the Directorate of Education, Delhi Administration, promulgated the decision of pension scheme in the primary aided schools on 6th December, 1988. This decision, inter alia, provided for payment of grant-in-aid to the local authorities concerned for the implementation of the pension scheme already notified vide notification dated 17th October, 1975. The last paragraph of the decision provides that "pensionary benefits under these orders would apply with immediate effect, i.e. from the date of issue of these orders".
(3.)The prayer made in this petition has been opposed by the New Delhi Municipal Committee by filing a counter affidavit. The objection raised by the said Committee is that since the pension scheme was finally promulagated in 1988 and has provided therein hat, the pensionary benefits were to apply from the date of issue of the requisite order in this behalf namely 6th December, 1988, the petitioner who retired on 31st October, 1977 that is more than 11 years before the final promulgation of the scheme was not entitled to any of the benefit's claimed by her simply on the ground that she had opted for pension before her retirement in pursuance of the scheme notified on 17th October 1975 which was in the process of finalisation at the time of her retirement. It has also been contended on behalf of the said Committee that since modalities for grant-in-aid to the local authorities concerned for the implementation of the pension scheme were provided for by order dated 6th December 1988 the petitioner was not entitled to any pension before this date in any view of the matter.
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