November 7th, 2016
The Bombay High Court, criticising the Central Government for curbing the pension of a retired Bank of India (BOI) CMD has directed that he must be given all benefits with arrears and accrued interest starting from 1995. Gajanan Dahotre’s pension was suspended because he was promoted early.
Worked for 38 years in bank
Gajanan Dahotre, now an 80-year-old, worked in public sector banks for 38 years. Gajanan said that the Ministry of Finance promoted him to the ‘board level’ post in ‘national interest’, in 1986. When he retired in 1995, the Ministry said that the new pension scheme rules required him to have completed 10 years in a ‘career level’ post. And so his pension was stopped.
20 years struggle
After a 20 year fight to claim what is rightfully his, the ordeal came to an end when a high court bench headed by Justice Anoop Mohta rapped the Union Finance Ministry for its “arbitrary” action and “non-application of mind” in denying pension to Gajanan.
Gajanan Dahotre started as a probationary assistant in State Bank of India in 1957. Two decades later, in 1986 he was working as the Chief Manager at Bank of India. At that time, the Finance Ministry asked him to be a full time Director at Bank of India. He retired three years later. BOI in 1995, after his retirement, issued pension regulations, stipulating a 10-year service clause at the career-level post. In 2012, BOI said that the 10-year rule was an impediment, but recommended his case to the ministry , which still “failed and neglected to give any reply”, the HC observed, as reported by The Times of India.
The HC verdict
The bench upheld that Dahotre was not in a position to change the timing of his promotion that resulted in denial of his pension, though he worked for 38 years. The court said that the ministry ought to have accepted recommendations made by the bank earlier. The concept of public service cannot be considered so narrow when Dahotre has risen to the call of duty for benefit of the Government of India by serving with public sector units. Therefore, his services need to be acknowledged.
Government aimed to streamline the system
In 2012, Government directed all the ministries and departments to strictly adhere to timelines for disbursing post retirement benefits to retired public servants and to take actions against those who cause delay. They have also announced to start an online system to ensure quick grant of pensions and to check for any delays in disbursal.