My dear Friends,
I forward copy of an email addressed to the Chairperson, the contents f which are self-explicit. I wish more and more persons send similar messages to the Chairperson so that she would come to know the extent of sufferings all of us are undergoing.
———- Forwarded message ———-
From: Ramachandra Upadhyaya <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Sun, Jun 28, 2015 at 3:45 PM
Subject: Pension Anomalies in SBI
28th June, 2015
GRIEVANCE-NON-PAYMENT OF PENSION
Non-payment of pension to about 32, 000 employees of SBI, whose salaries and allowances were revised on 1.11.97/1.4.98,hereinafter referred to as the RETIREES for over a decade and a half
I would request you to reflect for a while on the unconscionable injustice heaped on the hapless, well meaning RETIREES, in the matter of pension payable, as per their Service condition, in return for the self-less service rendered by them in the past to the Bank over a long period. To facilitate in your introspection, which would give you an idea of the extent of callous indifference that has permeated in SBI over the years, especially in moral values, I give below brief account of the sufferings of the RETIREES caused by the ineptitude /cruel acts of the Bank’s management.
1.1. The Bank deliberately did not act on the Resolution passed by the ECCB, authorising payment of pension to the RETIREES as per the extant rules, i.e. to compute pension with reference to the revised pay scales effective from 1.11.97/ 1.4.98 after merger of D.A up to 1684 points; brief details of the resolution passed were advised to the RBI vide letter no CDO/PM/16/SPL/341 26.7.2000. The RBI had replied that consequent on revision of pay scales, the then existing ceiling of Rs.8500 be revised to Rs.12050/- and the admissible pension payable be revised to Rs 6025/- respectively by merging D.A up to 1684 points. In respect of those having an average pay exceeding Rs.12, 050/-, the pension payable be revised to 40% of average pay subject to a minimum of Rs 6025, vide its letter no DBOD/593/09-21-002/2000.01 dated 11/12.5.2001.
1.2. The management deliberately chose to withhold a substantial portion of the pension legitimately due to the RETIREES, without assigning reasons, by issuing its circular letter no CDO: PM: CIR: 34 dated 31.10.2000 addressed to its Local Head offices; by doing so, till date, the RETIREES are being paid only ex-gratia payments in lieu of pension, sans adequate compensation in the form of D.A.
1.3. The management, since then, has been misleading the aggrieved RETIREES, stating that “unlike other nationalised banks, in SBI the amount of pension is not automatically linked to last drawn salary”; the blatant falsity of the statement was exposed when information in this regard was sought under RTI act.
1.4. The sincere efforts made by the RETIREES to seek justice from the courts of law are being thwarted by the management and in gross misuse of the judicial process frowned upon by eminent and well meaning jurists, mindless appeals have been preferred despite well settled position of the law, adding to agony of the petitioners and humongous arrears of pending cases. The management has, thus, denied justice to the RETIREES who were awarded favourable judgments in the Madras, Kerala and Calcutta High courts by resorting to needless appeals. In April/May 2013, the Bank, as a respondent in the Madras High court case, went to the extent of seeking transfer of the case to the Delhi High court just when the judgment was about to be delivered. It is indeed truly shocking that the management, under your leadership too, has chosen to file a review of the judgment delivered on 6.4.2015 in the Jaipuriar case in the Delhi High court. The Bank, having considerable financial resources at its command, have been making such sinister moves with a view to wearing down the RETIREES, who have been facing severe financial crunch caused by non-receipt of pension from the Bank.
1.5. It is amazing that the Bank, which boasts of a Law department, does not seem to be aware that sub-section (1) of section 17 of the SBI Act 1955, provides that general superintendence and direction of the affairs and business of the Bank shall be entrusted to its Central Board which may exercise all powers and do all such act and things as may be exercised or done by the Bank and sub-section(2) of section 17 lays down that the Central Board, “ in discharging its functions shall act on business principles, regard being had to public interest.” The Bank also seems to be ignorant of the fact that section 18 of the act confers powers on the Central Government to issue directions to the Central Board but it is made clear in sub-section (1) of that section that such directions can only be in matters of policy involving public interest. I would now quote the decision given by the Supreme Court in S.L. Agarwal vs. General Manager, Hindustan Steel Ltd. (1970) 1 SCC 177, where the Apex court had observed “The existence of shareholders, of capital raised by the issuance of shares, the lack of connection between the finances of the corporation and the consolidated fund of the Union rather make out a greater independent existence than that of the corporation in the English case. We must, therefore, hold that the corporation which is HSL in this case, is not a department of the Government nor are the servants of it holding posts under the State.” Sri. Bhagwati, who had cited the above decision in his opinion report dated 5.7.1990 to the Bank, went on to add that “the case of the SBI is very much stronger than that of HSL Not only that there is lack of connection between the finances and the consolidated fund of the Union and the SBI is an independent and separate legal entity, but there is also no legal control of the CG in regard to the management of the affairs and business of the SBI, which has to be carried on according to business principles, subject only to directions on matters of policy involving public interest.”
1.6. The Bank seems to pretend that it is also not aware of the extent of powers conferred on the Central Government in regard to pension payable to SBI Employees under section 50 of the SBI Act. In view of this, the statement “In exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (1) read with clause (0) of sub-section (2) of section 50 of the State Bank of India Act, 1955 (23 of 1955), and in supersession of the State Bank of India Employees’ Pension Fund Rules” appearing in the preamble of the recently published SBI Employees’ Pension Fund Regulation, is indeed amusing. I wish that the Bank had obtained an independent legal opinion to know whether clause (0) of sub-section (2) of section 50 of the State Bank of India Act, 1955 (23 of 1955), which is being mindlessly quoted, does really confer any power at all before incorporating the narration as a preamble in the Regulation.
2.1. In the backdrop of the observations in the above paragraphs please touch your conscience and conclude for yourselves whether the Bank, which is expected to adhere to the legal diktats and the Resolution passed by the ECCB on 26.7.2000, was justified in instructing branches to compute pension and commutation with reference to the pre-revised salary of the RETIREES in violation of Rule 23 of the SBI Employees’ Pension Rules 1955 (Rules for short) and continue to deny pension to the RETIREES even after about 17 years of their retirement?
2.2. Remembering that the Bank is a statutory corporation having an autonomous status, should it not have asserted before the Central Government that it would like to be guided by the Supreme Court verdict dated on 23.2.1989, which is binding on it and also act as per the provisions of the Rules applicable to payment of pension, which is an assurance given to its employees besides a liability devolving on it?
3. Since it has been decided by the Supreme Court vide it judgment dated 14.8.2013 in State of Jharkhand&ors vrs Jitendar Kumar Srivastava&ANR,that a) pension , hard earned benefit of a pensioner, is his property, b) the right to receive pension flows by virtue of the rules, c) pension can’t be taken away without due process of law as per provisions of Art.300 A of the Constitution of India, d) the State cannot by an executive order curtail or abolish altogether the right of the public servant to receive pension and e) pension does not cease to be property on the mere denial or cancellation of it and further, on the basis of executive/administrative circular, which is not having force of law, the employer cannot withhold – even a part of pension. It can be seen that pension can’t be denied, withheld or cancelled. Therefore, sooner or later, the Bank would be required to pay pension payments due to the RETIREES. Hence, I request you to make amends with grace by personally taking up the matter with the Minister of Finance, if you feel it necessary, and apprise him of the genuine sufferings being undergone by the RETIREES and inform him that you propose to arrange for payment of pension which is long overdue. The legal processes involved may be complied with by consulting the Bank’s solicitors. Since the proposed action is lawful and well within the rules there should be no resistance from any quarters.
4. Since most of the RETIREES, who don’t have any other source of income for their sustenance, are having hand to mouth existence from the ex-gratia payment being received by them, due to the rising cost of living. Pensioners’ chronicle has been reporting incidents of pensioners resorting to begging. The situation calls for some extra-ordinary step as other wise, some of the RETIREES may also be driven to streets and certainly it would not be a compliment to the Bank. I assert that the lives of more than 30,000 RETIREES are in jeopardy. It is a shame that except the pensioners of SBI, the pensioners of all nationalised banks, whose salary and allowances were revised along with the RETIREES, have been receiving pension at 50% of their last drawn salary. It is an irony that, while the GOI which was insisting on SBI following industry level settlement, the pensioners of SBI alone have been left high and dry. They are struggling to eke a decent living like orphans as the management of its employers lack both will and courage to champion their just cause. At this juncture, I recall Woolesey’s prayer : "had I served my God as reverently as I did my king, I would not have fallen on these days of penury" cited by Justice Desai in D.S.Nakara case, which aptly describes the true feelings of the RETIREES as each one of them feels like crying ‘I fall on the thorns of life I bleed.’