Nagpur: Proving the adage “Justice delayed is justice denied” wrong, the Nagpur Bench of Bombay High Court, in a landmark judgment, delivered justice to a 87-year old man in a 36-year old battle in the court of law. The pension case of the frail petitioner, a teacher, was settled by the High Court after rounds and rounds of litigations and fighting for his rightful dues since the year 1981.
The High Court, in the historic ruling, in view of the Supreme Court order passed in a Civil Appeal No. 8975/2010, directed the respondents to ignore the fact that petitioner has tendered resignation, his eligibility and entitlement to pension and other benefits and ordered them to process the pension case and other papers of petitioner within three months to ensure that the petitioner get his dues and thereby allowed his petition.
The brief facts of the case are as under:
The petitioner, Daulat Eknath Pund (now 87-year old) was working as Assistant Teacher in Gardener High School, Nagpur. He was transferred from Nagpur to Bhandara vide transfer order dated 08/08/1978. However, Pund challenged the transfer order before the Industrial Court, Nagpur vide complaint ULPA No. 123/1978 against Gardener High School and Maharashtra Board of Regional Education, Church of North India, Nagpur i.e. the respondents No.1 and 2 in the said complaint.
During pendency of the complaint, the petitioner and the respondents compromised the matter and filed compromise pursis before Industrial Court, Nagpur on 11/09/1981. By virtue of compromise pursis, the petitioner had withdrawn the complaint and tendered his resignation as senior teacher to the respondent Nos. 1 and 2. Subsequently, the respondents had given an undertaking to complete all necessary formalities and procedures relating to Pund’s pension, provident fund, gratuity, salary in lieu of admissible leaves, arrears under Bhole Pay Fixation and all such other terminal benefits due to the complainant and forwarded all necessary papers to ZP, AG office and other concerned office within a period of 2 months. The compromise pursis was accepted by the Industrial Court, Nagpur.
However, even after compromise, the respondents did not grant service benefits including pension to the petitioner, therefore the petitioner filed a Writ Petition No. 2562/1993 before the Bombay High Court, Nagpur Bench, against the respondents No.1 to 3 and the Deputy Director of Education, Nagpur (respondent No.4) and the State of Maharashtra, Department of Education (school), Mantralaya, Mumbai (respondent no.5) to get service benefits and pension.
The papers of the petitioner were forwarded to the Education Officer, Secondary Education Department, Zilla Parishad, Nagpur (respondent No. 3). However, the respondent No. 3 vide communication dated 05/05/1995 informed the petitioner that as per communication dated 16/07/1994 issued by the State Government his claim to get service benefits is rejected. The High Court vide judgment dated 19/01/2009 dismissed the Writ Petition No. 2562/1993 holding that the petitioner has not intended to voluntary retire from his service but he tendered resignation and thereby forfeited his entitlement to get service benefits. The petitioner had completed 19 years 11 months and 12 days of service and fell short by 12 days to complete 20 years of his service to get pension. The High Court had also held that, since petitioner has not completed 20 years of service, therefore he is not entitled to get pension. That the High Court granted liberty to the petitioner to make representation to the State Government and directed the State Government to grant some relief by considering the case of petitioner on humanitarian grounds.
The petitioner thereafter filed Civil Appeal No. 8975/2010 before the Supreme Court of India. The Supreme Court vide order dated 18/10/2010 has observed that the petitioner tendered resignation and not voluntary retirement, but the parties are bound by the settlement arrived at, and in terms of compromise, the formalities and processes for payment of dues is to be carried out and the order is to be punctually observed.
The petitioner ran from pillar to post, but the respondents did not release his service benefits and nor given pension to him and vide communication/letter dated 17/12/2015 again rejected his claim. The petitioner thereafter filed Writ Petition No. 4557/2016 before the Bombay High Court, Nagpur Bench against the respondents for giving appropriate directions to the respondents to release his service benefits and pension as per (obiter dicta) in the light of observation and intent of Supreme Court order dated 18/10/2010.
Finally, Justice B P Dharmadhikari and Justice Swapna Joshi vide order dated 24/01/2017 has held that the controversy is concluded by the orders of Supreme Court and accordingly quashed and set aside communication dated 17/12/2015 and directed that shortfall of 12 days in service of petitioner is condoned as a special case. The fact that petitioner has tendered his resignation is also to be ignored and directed the respondent Nos. 3 and 4 to process the pension case and other papers of petitioner appropriately within next 3 months and to see the petitioner get his dues.
Thus, the petitioner is finally getting his dues after fighting for 39 years in the Court of law. Adv. Amit R Prasad held the brief for petitioner Daulat Eknath Pund. Adv. R.T. Anthony appeared for the respondent Nos. 1 & 2 School and AGP S.P. Deshpande appeared for the respondent Nos. 3 to 5.