The Rajasthan High Court has come down heavily on the inaction of the Life Insurance Corporation of India (LIC) for not adhering to its board resolution to pay equal pension to all the retirees across the country irrespective of their date of retirement. The court verdict is bound to affect thousands of retired personnel of LIC in the country.
A division bench comprising Justice Dalip Singh and Justice Mahesh Bhagwati directed the LIC to give effect to its board decision dated November 24, 2001 to revise the pension and dearness allowance ( DA) payable to its retired employees corresponding to the successive revisions of the pay scales that took place in 1986, 1993, 1997, 2002 and 2007 respectively.
Presently, the retired employees of LIC are drawing pension based on the last pay which was payable to them at the time of their retirement and the same were never revised creating different classes of employees based on their date of retirement. This was challenged by Krishan Murarilal Asthana, general secretary of Retired Insurance Employees’ Association of LIC. The LIC board, infact, took the decision to do away the disparity among pensioners but did not implement the same on the ground that the ministry of finance has not given its approval.
Disposing off the writ petition filed by Asthana, a single judge bench of Justice Munishwar Nath Bhandari in its order dated January 12, 2010 had asked LIC to take immediate steps to implement the resolution of LIC board and held, “In the present matter, there was no reason to seek approval of the Central government. The law in this regard is settled and even counsel for union of India had accepted that it is only a policy decision, that too, involving public interest and not every decision of the board, which needs approval by the central government.” Feeling aggrieved of this order, the LIC filed an appeal before the division bench.
The division bench took a serious note of the conduct of LIC in not adhering to its board resolution on one or the other account. Justice Dalip Singh observed, “The LIC is making an eyewash by not falling in line with its own board decision and it is an extreme ridiculous situation that the corporation itself has filed an appeal now saying that the order of the single judge is not tenable whereas the LIC still maintains that the board resolution has not been rescinded and the corporation is not challenging its own board’s resolution.”
“LIC is making a sheer misuse of the judicial system by filing frivolous appeal and trying to dislodge the retired pensioners from their valid right merely on the ground that the resolution was never approved by the ministry of finance. Such a ground is not maintainable when the Government of India has never filed an appeal against the order of single judge as also the LIC is an autonomous statutory body which need not depend on the government for its day-to-day functioning. Hence the appeal is not maintainable,” observed Justice Mahesh Bhagwati.