Saturday, February 22, 2014

Suspended employees are entitled to full benefits, says High Court

In a relief to a motorman of Central railway the Bombay High Court has ruled that suspended employeesare entitled to the benefit of the period of suspension to be counted for the purpose of qualifying service for pensionary benefits.

A division bench of Justices V M Kanade and G S Kulkarni pointed out that the Central Administrative Tribunal had already granted benefit of subsistence allowance for the period of suspension. “If this logical consequence is not accepted an incongruous position would necessarily arise, in as much as on one hand benefit of revised pay scale during the suspension period would stand granted and on the other hand such period would not be taken into consideration for the purpose of pensionary benefits. Mere suspension does not sever the relationship of an employer and employee,” observed Justice Kulkarni.

On December 25, 1985, Central Railway’s driver J S Kharat was placed under suspension for being involved in a train collision. Subsequently, disciplinary inquiry into the incident led to Kharat’s expulsion from service on June 4, 1986.

Aggrieved by the ruling, Kharat approached the Central Administrative Tribunal and on the directions of the tribunal an inquiry was conducted by the Central Government through the Divisional Railway Manager, CST.

The inquiry resulted in Kharat facing compulsory retirement on January 18, 1996. Thereafter, Kharat again approached the tribunal seeking subsistence allowance on the basis of the revised pay scales for the suspension period of over 10 years. Kharat was paid Rs 1.6 lakh after a full-bench of the tribunal in an order dated January 13, 2003, ruled in his favour.

He then sought that an appropriate amount be fixed as pension according to IV and V pay commission payscales after considering his period of suspension and that he had compulsorily retired.

The Central Railway, however, rejected his plea stating that he was suspended before he was compulsorily retired. Kharat, therefore, was not eligible for fixation of pay in the Railway Service (Pension) Rules, 1993, said the order dated December 12, 2003. Kharat challenged the order before the tribunal, which partly allowed his application. The Central Railway, consequently, challenged the tribunal’s order before Bombay HC

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