Retirement benefits can’t be withheld pending enquiry
C.A. No.6770/2013 @ SLP (C) No. 1427 of 2009
IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION
CIVIL APPEAL NO. 6770 OF 2013
(Arising out of Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 1427 of 2009)
State of Jharkhand & Ors.
Jitendra Kumar Srivastava & Anr.
C.A. No. 6771/2013
(arising out of SLP(C) No. 1428 of 2009)
A.K. Sikri, J
2. Crisp and short question which arises for consideration in these cases is as to whether, in the absence of any provision in the Pension Rules, the State Government can withhold a part of pension and/or gratuity during the pendency of departmental/ criminal proceedings? The High Court has – answered this question, vide the impugned judgment, in the negative and hence directed the appellant to release the withheld dues to the respondent. Not happy with this outcome, the State of Jharkhand has preferred this appeal.
3. For the sake of convenience we will gather the facts from Civil Appeal arising out of SLP(Civil) No. 1427 of 2009. Only facts which need to be noted, giving rise to the aforesaid questions of law, are the following:
The respondent was working in the Department of Animal Husbandry and Fisheries. He joined the said Department in the Government of Bihar on 2.11.1966. On 16.4.1996, two cases were registered against him under various Sections of the Indian Penal Code as well as Prevention of Corruption Act, alleging serious financial irregularities during the years 1990-1991, 1991-1992 when he was posted as Artificial Insemination Officer, Ranchi. On promulgation of the Bihar Reorganisation Act, 2000, State of Jharkhand (Appellant herein) came into existence and the Respondent became the employee of the appellant State. Prosecution, in respect of the aforesaid two criminal cases against the respondent is pending. On 30th January, 2002, the appellant also ordered initiation of disciplinary action against him. While these proceedings were still pending, on attaining the age of superannuation, the respondent retired from the post of Artificial Insemination Officer, Ranchi on 31.08.2002. The appellant sanctioned the release and payment of General Provident Fund on 25.5.2003. Thereafter, on 18.3.2004, the Appellant sanctioned 90 percent provisional pension to the respondent. Remaining 10 percent pension and salary of his suspension period (30.1.2002 to 30.8.2002) was withheld pending outcome of the criminal cases/ departmental inquiry against him. He was also not paid leave encashment and gratuity