Decided on July 10,2003



- (1.) After 27 years of service, the petitioner had retired as Sub Registrar from Government on 30.6.2000. By Ext. P1 proceedings, the Accountant General had fixed the retirement benefits, including Death cum Retirement Gratuity (for short DCRG). The gratuity payment order has also been issued, but he had not been paid the DCRG so far. Finding that there is inordinate delay, the petitioner had filed O.P. No. 22285/02 and there was a direction for finalisation of the issue within a prescribed time. It was after this that Ext. P7 dated 28.01.2003 came to be issued by the District Registrar (General), Alappuzha addressing the first respondent - Cooperative Bank, a copy of which was endorsed to the petitioner.
(2.) Reference had been made therein to a letter issued by the Bank to the office of the District Registrar whereunder the Bank had requested that before issuing the No Liability Certificate to the petitioner steps may be taken to settle the accounts of the said person with the Bank. The District Registrar had required a report, since on the basis of the judgment he was obliged to expedite the matter. The letter also required that in case of clearance, certificate to that effect may be sent to them. Thereafter, the District Registrar had addressed the Sub Treasury Officer, Mavelikkara advising them to withhold a part of the DCRG of the petitioner towards liabilities, which included an item of cooperative dues. An amount of Rs. 76,000/- was shown as due to the 1st respondent Bank. The net result is that the petitioner had not so far been given the DCRG. Ext. P8 and the Liability Certificate issued by the District Registrar, a copy of which is marked as Ext. P9, are under challenge.
(3.) Sri. P. Ravindran, appearing for the petitioner, had put up the following contentions: (i) Though there is provision for deduction from salary to meet the claims of a Cooperative Society in respect of a member, the District Registrar was not an employer of the Petitioner; nor the petitioner is an employee of the District Registrar for the purpose of S. 37 of the Cooperative Societies Act. There was no agreement also between the petitioner and the Society and he was not a member of the Society and therefore the direction is unauthorised. (ii) Being a Government servant, the only method of deduction of any dues from the retirement benefits of an employee are the rules enumerated in Part.3 R. 3 of the Kerala Service Rules. This postulated an enquiry to be held for liability to be quantified and in so far as this has not been done by the Government and since no amounts were due to the Government, the withholding of the DCRG was bad. (iii) Since recovery could have been made only by means of procedure prescribed by the Kerala Service Rules, and since the Government was not authorised to make deductions in respect of any amounts due to a retired service other than the dues payable to him the impugned orders were liable to be set aside. (iv) In so far as the Bank was having only a civil claim as against him, a short cut of deduction, without resorting to arbitration proceedings and ascertainment of dues was misconceived.;

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