Count Entire Services of SCLSC Employees for Pension: SC

In their recent judgement dated 05.02.2020, a Supreme Court Bench comprising Justice L. Nageshwar Rao And Justice Deepak Gupta ruled that the entire service of employees should be considered when calculating retiral benefits under Supreme Court Legal Services Committee Rules, 2000.

Brief facts of the Case Brahma Singh and Ors. vs Union of India (W.P. Civil 59 of 2019) are-

A Petition was filed in the Supreme Court by serving, and retired employees of the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee (SCLSC) and their prayer was that the whole duration of their service should be considered while fixing their retrial benefits.

The petitioners had already got a favourable order from the Supreme Court where it was held that their entire service duration should be considered while fixing retrial benefits. The petitioners stated that their claim was rejected by the Union of India, who were respondents in this case.

Contentions of the Respondents (Union of India)

The respondents raised two conditions:-

  1. The respondents argued that benefits could only be calculated from the date when the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee Rules,2000 came into force which was 03.07.2020.
  2. That the service rendered by the petitioners before the date of 03.07.2020 cannot be taken into consideration.
  3. The respondents also stated that the respondent raised a similar plea in their writ petition (Civil) No.267 of 2008 that was filed before the Supreme Court, where the Court did not grant them relief. So the second petition filed by them is not maintainable.

Issue Raised before the Court

The main issue raised before the Court was whether the services rendered by the petitioners before the promulgation of Supreme Court Legal Services Committee Rules, 2000 should be taken into account while fixing retrial benefits of the petitioners.

Basis of the ruling

The judges opined that the petitioners were rendering their service uninterruptedly even before the rules came into force in 2000. The Court also stated that the petitioners were regular employees of good conduct, and their length of service should be considered while determining retrial benefits. The Court stated that their entire length of service should be treated as qualifying service.

Further the Court considered that the Supreme Court Legal Aid Committee was constituted on 10.07.1981 by the Ministry of Law & Justice under executive instructions. Para 7 of the said instructions provided that the Supreme Court Legal Aid Committee will be entitled to make required arrangements for staff and other facilities as necessary for its functioning. 

The Court observed that hese instructions were issued with consent and approval of the Finance Minsitry, Department of Expenditure. Therefore, the posts were sanctioned though no rules were framed for filling up the posts so sanctioned. Pursuant to above instructions, the petitioners were appointed on different posts in the SC Legal Aid Committee. 

The Court also ruled that their petition was maintainable and should not be rejected based on a hyper-technical ground that in the earlier writ filed by them the Court didn’t grant them relief on the issue of retrial benefits.

Further the Court stressed upon Sub-rule (2) of Rule 6 of the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee Rules, which clearly states that in all matters like age of retirement, pay and allowances and benefits on retirement, the officers and employees of the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee shall be governed by the Central Government rules.

The decision of the Court

After considering all the facts of the case, the Hon’ble Judges ruled in favour of the petitioners and directed the respondents to treat the entire services rendered by petitioners as qualifying service when calculating their retrial benefits. 

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