Provident fund, gratuity cannot be attached, rules court

An employee’s provident fund and gratuity cannot be attached under any decree in settlement of any debt or liability, the Gujarat High Court has held in an order made available Saturday.

The court also said that it cannot restrain the employee, after he receives the provident fund and gratuity amount, from utlising it the way he wants.

The court also ruled that neither the official assignee appointed under the Presidency Towns Insolvency Act, 1909, nor any receiver appointed under the Provincial Insolvency Act, 1920, shall be entitled to, or have any claim on, any such amount.

A single judge bench of Justice K.A. Puj gave this ruling while allowing a petition of Vithalbhai Barot and setting aside an order of a civil court of Mehsana.

According to the case details, the Dudhsagar Dairy Employees Credit and Supply Cooperative Society Limited filed a suit before the court for recovery of Rs.15.3 lakh against Barot.

This was decreed by the court in 1996. Against this order, Barot filed an appeal before the Gujarat State Cooperative Tribunal, which dismissed it.

Thereafter, the Dudhsagar Society filed a case before a civil court of Mehsana for execution of the decree. During the pendency of the case, it also petitioned the court for directions to the Mehsana District Milk Purchasers Cooperative Society Limited, that the amount which Barot has to receive for superannuation, gratuity, provident fund and leave encashment, may be directly paid to the Dudhsagar Society for settling its dues.

Barot objected to this on various grounds but the civil court in 2004 issued directions and Rs.3.66 lakh were deducted from Barot’s entitlement and credited to the account of the Dudhsadar Society.

This order was challenged in high court.

After hearing both sides, the high court in an order made available Saturday ruled: ‘If the amount of provident fund as well as gratuity payable to the petitioner (Barot) is credited to the account of the respondent (Dudhsagar Society) pursuant to the garnishee order passed by the learned Civil Judge, the same is immediately required to be returned to the employer of the petitioner as the said amount, under no circumstances, can be attached by the respondent.’

‘Once the amount is returned and it is thereafter paid by the employer to the petitioner, the same can be absolutely belonging to the petitioner and the court, at this stage, cannot pass any order restraining him from utilising the said amount,’ the court further noted.

Court serves notice to power grid on Kutch creek towers

Gujarat High Court

The Gujarat High Court Friday issued notice to the Power Grid Corporation of India Limited (PGCIL) and the union and state governments over installing transmission towers in Surajbari creek of Kutch district.

The bench of Chief Justice S.J. Mukhopadhaya and Justice Akil Kureshi issued the notice following a public interest litigation by Samma Siddiq Usman challenging the installation of the towers.

The petitioner’s counsel Anand Yagnik told the court that PGCIL has bunded and completely blocked the creek, particularly the Cheravadi sub-creek, with construction waste including tiles and mud.

This has affected the natural course of Surajbari creek and the sea water, the petitioner argued.

The counsel claimed that the bunding of the creek was done only to cut the cost of setting up platforms for the towers in the water.

Three other transmission lines pass through the creek, but never before was such bunding or blockage resorted to by companies, Yagnik argued.

‘There are established and known methods of setting platforms in the water for putting up pillars of the bridge, transmission towers as well as pipelines, but they are not put into practice,’ he claimed.

The creek was an integral part of the Wild Ass Sanctuary, which is now declared as the 15th biosphere region of the country where all non-forest activity are prohibited, Yagnik told the court.

The counsel further said that it has also affected the livelihood of around 4,000 fishermen of surrounding areas.

The petitioner also sought the court’s direction to the Power Grid Corporation to get the Coastal Regulation Zone clearance from the union government for setting up the transmission towers and to pay compensation to the fishermen in the affected villages.

Following the submissions, the court has issued the notice and posted the matter for March 14.

Gujarat High Court Friday recalls order of costs for frivolous lawsuit

The Gujarat High Court Friday recalled its order of imposing Rs.20,000 costs on a petitioner for filing a frivolous public interest litigation after his lawyer said costs should be recovered from him instead.

The bench of Chief Justice S.J. Mukhopadhaya and Justice K.M. gave the order after advocate Girish Das submitted his client was not responsible for the submissions he made before the court and should not be penalised for them.

Dilip Shah had filed the PIL through Das, challenging a land deal involving an Ahmedabad-based trust and alleging a fraud of Rs.12 crore in the deal.

The bench had dismissed the PIL July last year, observing it was an adversary litigation filed giving it the colour of a PIL.

Imposing costs on Shah, the court ordered him to deposit the sum to the Gujarat State Legal Services Authority.

A review petition was filed where Das stated that the cost was imposed on Shah following his insistence on recording his arguments in the dismissal order and the ensuing conversation that took place between him and the court. Therefore, he should be made to pay the costs and not his client.

Das had also attached a cheque of Rs.20,000 with his affidavit and prayed it be accepted for the costs.

During the hearing of the review petition Friday, Das again urged the court to recover the amount from him.

“Following this, the chief justice told me that the court

is not displeased with me. And subsequently, the court recalled its order to the extent of imposition of costs,” he said.

Gujarat High Court advocates to strike work from Jan 13

The Gujarat High Court

The Gujarat High Court Advocates Association Tuesday passed a resolution to abstain from work for an indefinite period from Jan 13 to protest the non-appointment of judges.

GHAA president Yatin Oza said the resolution condemned the inaction of the central government and other constitutional dignitaries over the issue. The resolution opposes the central government and Supreme Court’s discriminatory treatment of people of Gujarat, Oza said.

He claimed that the proposals for appointments in Gujarat were pending for last 21 months but no action was taken.

‘The matter is now lying with the president of India who has not given approval since last four weeks whereas in other cases it took only a few days,’ he claimed.

Oza said his organisation would also request other bar associations across the state to observe the strike.

The bar association had earlier given a strike call Dec 7 on the same issue.