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High Court admonishes Punjab for callous delay in pension release, imposes costs

Court’s decision is significant as imposition of costs is expected to serve as crucial deterrent against administrative delays

High Court admonishes Punjab for callous delay in pension release, imposes costs

Photo for representational purpose only. iStock



Tribune News Service

Saurabh Malik  

Chandigarh, May 4

In a scathing judgment, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has not only admonished the State of Punjab for its “callous” and “lackadaisical approach” but also imposed Rs 25,000 costs for the undue delay in releasing pension to a retired art and craft teacher. The amount might appear nominal at first glance, but the court’s decision is significant as the imposition of costs is expected to serve as a crucial deterrent against administrative delays and ensure prompt redressal of citizens’ grievances.

“The State and other respondents have been rather callous in the present case, and at times, the State functionaries must also admit to feeling a pang of regret,” Justice Aman Chaudhary asserted. The Bench was hearing a petition filed against the State and other respondents by the teacher, who retired on attaining the age of superannuation in May 2012 from a government high school in Ropar district. His pension, previously withheld in different proportions, was finally released during the pendency of the petition on May 3, albeit without interest.

Justice Chaudhary observed that a decision to pay the pension in its entirety was taken way back in August 2022. But it was deplorable that arrears of Rs 2,11,901 were released “very recently” on May 3. “The inescapable fact in the case is the humongous delay in the release of the pension, for which the respondents have miserably failed to offer any justification, much less plausible. The petitioner has been deprived of an amount that was legally due to him, which the respondents unjustly enriched themselves with,” the Bench asserted.

Justice Chaudhary, during the course of the hearing, was told that the teacher, convicted by the trial court in February 2012, was released on probation in July 2017, in a case of causing hurt and other offences registered during his service career in December 2001 under Sections 323, 324, 148, and 149 of the IPC. But departmental proceedings were not initiated against him.

Justice Chaudhary asserted that the impugned order withholding the entire pension was passed without initiating departmental proceedings to determine grave misconduct or negligence in the discharge of duties by the petitioner during the course of service. “Rightly realizing the fallacy of action on their part, the matter was reconsidered on May 20, 2019, by deciding to withhold only one-third and release the balance which, for reasons not forthcoming, was also not done,” Justice Chaudhary asserted.

The Bench added that the petitioner’s treasured right could not have been taken away on the whims and fancies of the respondents or because of lack of application of mind. Disposing of the petition, Justice Chaudhary directed the respondents to pay 6 per cent per annum interest to the petitioner from the due date till paid.

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