V.K. Agnihotri, Member (A)
1. In this OA the applicant had initially sought release of commuted value of pension to him by the respondents with 18% interest. However, during the course of arguments, learned Counsel for the applicant informed that the commuted value of pension has already been released to the applicant and, therefore, the OA survives only for payment of the interest for the period of delay in releasing the commuted value of pension to the applicant.
2. The brief facts of the case are that while the applicant was serving as Painter under the respondents, a major penalty of compulsory retirement, as a measure of punishment, was imposed on him. The applicant was thus compulsorily retired from service w.e.f. 26.06.2000. Pension Payment Order was issued on 18.04.2005. The respondents made the payment of other retiral benefits to the applicant, except commuted value of pension. Being aggrieved, the applicant made a representation on 05.05.2005 requesting for payment of commuted value of pension. The respondents, vide their order dated 04.06.2005, asked the applicant to appear for medical examination and submit the report. The applicant was duly examined by the Medical Board on 10.08.2005 and the medical report was sent to PCDA (P), Allahabad (respondent No. 2) by registered letter dated 13.08.2005. Thereafter, the applicant submitted various representations as well as a Legal Notice, but to no avail. Hence the OA.
3. The applicant has stated that the respondents were required to pay all retiral benefits within one month from the date of retirement. However, in the case of the applicant, the payment of commuted value of pension was inordinately delayed. Various representations of the applicant were also not responded to by the respondents.
4. The respondents have stated that the applicant was in the habit of making false allegations against departmental officers without any documentary evidence. The applicant was warned on several occasions to refrain from such activities but in spite of that he did not stop making infructuous correspondence. The applicant was issued a Charge Memo on an earlier occasion too for making false allegations and a penalty of withholding of one increment for one year, without cumulative effect, was imposed on him, vide order dated 19.05.1995. However, the applicant continued to make false allegations against and infructuous correspondence with higher authorities. Under the circumstances, the respondents issued Charge Memo dated 10.06.1997 under Rule 14 of CCS (CCA) Rules, 1965. Upon completion of disciplinary proceedings, the Disciplinary Authority imposed the penalty of compulsory retirement on the applicant. Thereupon, the applicant filed OA No. 2130/2001 challenging his order of compulsorily retirement, which was dismissed as withdrawn on 13.05.2003 with the liberty to file a fresh OA. Thereafter, the applicant filed OA No. 2129/2003, which was dismissed on 21.05.2004. The applicant then filed WP(C) No. 3006/2005 before the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi against the order of this Tribunal in OA No. 2129/2003 (supra). The said Writ Petition is still pending before the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi.
5. The respondents have stated that immediately after compulsory retirement of the applicant, he was asked to complete the pension papers, but he refused to do so on one pretext or another. He finally signed the pension papers on 31.08.2004 and his case for grant of retiral benefits was processed soon thereafter. The applicant was granted pension on 18.04.2005. However, commutation of pension could not be sanctioned to the applicant since, as per the Pension Rules, it could be done only after his medical examination. The applicant was accordingly directed to get himself medically examined. The medical examination was conducted on 10.08.2005 and its report was dispatched on 13.08.2005 to PDCA (P), Allahabad. The respondents continued to pursue the matter with PCDA (P), Allahabad. However, apparently the medical report was misplaced in transit and hence the commutation of pension could not be sanctioned to the applicant. PCDA (P), Allahabad, asked the applicant to get himself medically examined again, vide their letter dated 10.02.2006, but the applicant did not comply with the direction and filed the present OA.
6. In the course of oral arguments, Shri M.K. Bhardwaj, learned Counsel for the applicant, stated that the applicant has received the commuted value of pension on 07.02.2007. He further stated that this commuted value of pension has been sanctioned to him pursuant to the medical examination that was conducted on 10.08.2005 and, therefore, no further medical examination of the applicant was required to be conducted. Thus, learned Counsel argued that the delay in sanctioning of the commuted value of pension is entirely on account of the conduct of the respondents and the applicant is not at all responsible for it.
7. Learned Counsel further argued that the applicant is entitled to get interest for the period from 10.08.2005, i.e. the date on which medical examination was conducted, up to 07.02.2007, when the commuted value of pension was actually disbursed to him. In this context, he cited the judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Vijay L. Mehrotra v. State of U.P. and Ors. , wherein it was held that payment of retiral benefits should be made soon after retirement and, in case of delay, the retiree is entitled to receive interest for such delay in making the payment of retiral benefits.
8. Learned Counsel also cited the order of this Tribunal in the case of E.S. Mohanty v. Union of India and Ors. 1996 (2) ATJ 201, wherein interest @ 10% per annum was awarded on account of delay in finalization of commuted value of pension. He further cited orders of the Chandigarh Bench of this Tribunal in the case of R.P. Kapoor v. Union of India and Ors. 1996 (2) ATJ 3, wherein interest @ 12% per annum was allowed on account of delay in payment of commuted value of pension due to pendency of disciplinary proceedings.
9. Shri R.N. Singh, learned Counsel for the respondents, contended that it was not a case of simple and honorable retirement, since the applicant was awarded the penalty of compulsory retirement, which was challenged by him before this Tribunal. However, the Tribunal was pleased to dismiss the OA as aforementioned. Interest can be awarded to the applicant only if there is delay on the part of the Government without any valid reason. As a matter of fact, the applicant himself delayed signing the pension papers for four years or so. As regards the payment of commuted value of pension, delay cannot be attributed to the respondents, who had sent the medical report to PCDA (P), Allahabad, within a few days of the medical examination of the applicant. For the misplacement of the medical report by the postal authorities, the respondents cannot be held responsible nor can the applicant claim any benefit for a bona fide mistake of the respondents.
10. As regards the case law cited by the applicant, the learned Counsel for the respondents stated that the facts and circumstances of the cases cited by the applicant, are not similar to those of the applicant. In any case, even if interest has been granted in a particular case, it does not mean that it has to be necessarily granted in all cases.
11. I have heard the learned Counsel for the parties and perused the material on record.
12. The Central Civil Services (Pension) Rules, 1972 (Rules of 1972, for short) make a specific provision for payment of interest on account of delay in making payment of gratuity (Rule 68). However, there is no provision in the Rules for payment of interest, if delayed, on any other retiral benefits. When there is such a specific exclusion in the Rules, it is obvious that in terms of Rules of 1972, the applicant is not entitled to any payment of interest on delayed payment of commuted value of pension. This fact is further confirmed by the DOP&T OM dated 05.10.1999, which states that as per Rule of 1972, no interest is payable on delayed payment of pension/commuted value of pension. [Muthuswamy’s Pension Compilation, 19th Edition, 2005, pgs. 178-179].
13. I also find merit in the averment of the learned Counsel for the respondents that there was no intentional or culpable delay, in this regard, on the part of the respondents. The delay occurred due to misplacement of the medical report by the postal authorities and the matter was kept pending with PCDA (P), Allahabad, on that account. The total period between the date of the medical examination and the sanction of the commuted value of pension, as pointed out by the learned Counsel for the applicant, is about 18 months. If six months, as mentioned in the case of E.S. Mohanty (supra), is excluded for processing of papers, the remaining period of delay is about one year, which in my opinion, cannot be considered as criminal neglect.
14. As regards the judgments cited by the learned Counsel for the applicant, I find that the case of Vijay L. Mehrotra (supra) is of normal retirement upon reaching the age of superannuation, which is not the case of the applicant herein, who was compulsory retired as a measure of major penalty. The case of E.S. Mohanty (supra) can also be distinguished insofar as it is a case of voluntary retirement and not of compulsory retirement as a punishment. In the case of R.P. Kapoor (supra) the payment of retiral benefits were withheld on account of disciplinary proceedings pending against the applicant. However, the applicant was finally exonerated of the charges levelled against him. Such is not the case of the applicant in the present OA.
15. Taking the totality of facts and circumstances of the case into consideration, I come to the conclusion that the applicant has failed to make out a case for payment of interest to him on account of delay in the payment of commuted value of pension. The respondents have acted with due care and the delay was on account of force majeure.
16. In the result, the OA is devoid of merit and is accordingly dismissed. There will be no order as to costs.