Thursday, January 26, 2012

HC raps bank for stopping old staffer's pension

MUMBAI: Stating that depriving former employees of their pension rights was an arbitrary move, the Bombay High Court has directed Allahabad Bank to restart the fund of an 87-year-old man.

"Pension constitutes an important source of wherewithal for senior citizens so that they can live the twilight years in dignity," the HC said. Criticizing the nationalized bank's conduct in withholding the pension of an old employee, the court said service conditions set by the state authorities could not be modified arbitrarily.

"The deprivation in the present case has taken place patently in violation of law and flouts the guarantee of equal protection under Article 14 of the Constitution," said a bench of Justice D Y Chandrachud and Justice Amjad Sayed on January 19, while deciding in favour of Shapoor Mehta who retired from Allahabad Bank in 1986 after working there for 39 years.

Last October, the bank discontinued the pension scheme in lieu of gratuity pending amendment to the Officers Service Regulations and stopped paying Mehta a monthly pension of Rs 5,660. In HC, Mehta's counsel K J Presswala said retirement benefits were not a largesse and sudden stopping of pension of an 87 year old who was an "award staff", was blatantly unlawful, unconstitutional and against natural justice. Pension was governed by the Pension Rules that were in force even prior to nationalization of banks and the same terms were to continue later, he said.

Opposing the petition, bank's counsel Ashish Mehta said as the bank, following a Supreme Court order, had to pay gratuity under the Payment of Gratuity Act 1972 only, it was within its rights to stop paying pension. Finding "no merit" in the argument, the HC said, "As a matter of first principle,

Retirement benefits, including pension and gratuity, constitute a valuable right in property.... Where the employer is a public sector firm, the rights are constitutionally protected and their deprivation must stand scrutiny. Employers cannot grant or withhold retirement benefits at their whim and caprice."

Pointing to the flaw in the bank's argument, the HC said the SC held that "pension and gratuity were separate retirement benefits and so, the statutory right to paying gratuity could not be withheld on the grounds that the employees received pension". The HC said the SC judgment "has been met with a reprisal by depriving employees their right to a pension. Nothing more arbitrary can be conceived of." Stopping such payment unilaterally by an executive act was arbitrary as the SC had held that the employees were entitled to gratuity in addition to pension as getting gratuity was a statutory right.

Source: Times of India dtd 25/01/o

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Letter by a pesioner regarding bank pensioners' issues

 One of our bank pensioners group members has written a letter to a leading newspaper which is reproduced below

Dear Sirs,

Through your esteemed daily I wish to bring to the knowledge of the government the treatment, meted out to the pensioners of Indian Banks:
While the pay packets of the serving employees continues to grow, the pensioners of the Banks are drawing the same pension, what they were drawing at the time of retirement. While the employees' welfare is taken care of by the unions, who are strong enough to call the shots, no negotiation is held between the management and the retirees' association. To add insult to injury, the pre 2002 pensioners are not given even full D.A. The affected pensioners mostly belong to the category of Special Voluntary Retirees, who opted pension as per the scheme introduced by the banks to trim their workforce. Their expectation was that they would continue to enjoy the benefits of other retirees, but even for, the addition of  legitimate 5 years to  the service as per pension regulations, for fixing the pension,they had to fight a legal battle for over 9 years. Now there is a glaring discrimination as the pensioners of 1998 to 2002 are alone not given 100% DA neutralization, as a result of which at the present DA rates a pensioner is losing around Rs.2000 per month.  While the government preaches one rank, one pension and encourages equality among the pensioners, it is surprising that the poor pensioners are allowed to fight for their cause. The meagre pension which is not updated periodically, added with curtailment of DA puts a pensioner into severe financial difficulties.It is the duty of  bank managements to ensure that their erstwhile employees lead a life of comfort after retirement.  The pensioners mostly senior citizens are too old and less organised to approach the court again, as it is time consuming and many retirees may not live to enjoy the benefits. As such I request the government to look into the matter and permit 100% DA neutralization to all its pensioners, without discrimination and its gesture will go along way to help them to lead a life honourably. It is also a matter of shame that many of the banks do not have a health welfare scheme for its ex-employees who have toiled in no uncertain terms, for the development the institution. I am sure the government will do the needful without further loss of time.

Yours faithfully

(Retd Canara Bank Sr.Manager)

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Top PSB Official Loses Pension Claim

No Good-bye This: Top PSB Official Loses Pension Claim -
  A senior official belonging to a South-based public sector bank was in for a rude shock on his last working day at the bank. Minutes after his colleagues and the bank’s senior management gave him a grand farewell and posed for photograph — the customary ritual as and when a senior official reaches superannuation — the bank chairman took him aside for a chat. What followed was not polite conversation: the chairman handed him a charge sheet, which, according to grapevine, follows a complaint from the chief vigilance commission. “It was very surprising. Only minutes before the chairman had showered praises on him....He can’t claim pension till the commission clears his name,” said a employee of the bank. 
 Source  - Economic Times dtd. 03/01/2012