You are all aware of the very indefatigable endeavors Ramchandra Upadhyaya, himself having retired from State Bank of India from the top rung of executive position, struggling hard to secure much overdue issues in relation to pensioners/retirees claims. It’s a big series of letters he addressed to the Chairperson but none of them was ever paid a heed. Such a negative attitude on the part of the top management of the Bank is not only highly callous but utterly condemnable. Reproduced below is the latest of the communications addressed to the Chairperson of the Bank by Ramchandra Upadhyaya most logically providing the merit parts of the issues. The campaign is vigorously pursued by him in a laudable manner and deserves all praise from the retirees /pensioners who owe him a solemn gratitude.
Nonpayment of Pension to 7th Bipartite Pensioners of SBI (RETIREES)
For about a decade and a half due to the Bank’s inaction.
Bank of India& ors vs K,Mohandas&ors
I write this letter with rightful indignation as all my letters, addressed to you expressing the genuine grievance of the RETIREES, don’t seem to receive the attention they deserve and instead, I am afraid, they are being consigned to the legal department, from where they don’t see the light of the day! I fervently appeal to you to devote your precious time at least for reading this letter as it would make you aware that all the sufferings of the RETIREES can be attributed to the management’s ill-conceived notion that the previous sanction of the GOI is a must each time revision of pension is made following revision in salary; this ill-conceived notion has been resulting in perpetuation of acts of breach of Law. It is imperative that you attend to resolve the sufferings of about one lakh families, including those of RETIREES, which have been hounding them for over one and half decades. It is not an exaggeration when I assert that all your other preoccupations can’t be more important than the lives of those who struggled hard for the cause of the Bank during their hey days. I hope, as a human being, you would have some genuine pity and consideration for their welfare as their sufferings should prick your conscience.
2. In the last line of paragraph 30 of SC judgment dated 26.2.2015 in Civil Appeal no 2463 of 2015 (arising out of S.L.P. (Civil) No. 3686 OF 2007), Justice Dipak Misra had observed “The SBI Pension Rules have been framed under Section 50 of the SBI Act, 1955. The Rules have statutory force. The concept of any kind of promissory estoppel, if any, could not be applicable to promote or condone the breach of law,” He added further in the first line of paragraph 31, ibid, “In Bangalore Development Authority & Ors. Vs. R. Hanumaiah & Ors, it has been held that rule of promissoryestoppel cannot be availed to permit or condone a breach of law. It cannot be invoked to compel the Government to do an act prohibited by law, for such a direction would be against the statute.
2.1.In paragraph18 of the above mentioned judgment, Justice Dipak Misra after reproducing excerpts from IBA’s letter dated 11.12.2000 reading “employees who apply for voluntary retirement after having rendered a minimum of 15 years of service under a special/ad hoc scheme formulated with the specific approval of the Governmentand the Board of Directors will be eligible for pro rata pension for the period of service rendered as they are to retire on attaining the age of superannuation on that date,” had observed vide the first line of paragraph 19, “It was contended before the High Court that under the said recommendation the bank was obliged to pay pension to them butthe said contention was not accepted by the Single Judge on the ground the said letter is not a binding circular under Section 18 of the State Bank of India Act, 1955.”
2.2. I reproduce excerpts from paragraph 43 of the same judgment “Rule 22(i) (a) deals with the concept of retirement and 22(i) (c) deals with the concept of retirement on request. In K. Mohandas (supra),the Rule was read into the Scheme in the absence of any other postulate. Same is the case here and, therefore, I read the Rule to the Scheme. Interpreting the 1995 Regulations, this Court had said that it will apply in entirety and, therefore, benefit was extended in Rule 29(5). Be it noted, in the said Regulation, it was categorically provided that pensionary benefits should be available to a person seeking voluntary retirement if he has put in 20 years of service. Same is the provision here, that is, 20 years of service irrespective of the age.”
2.3. The Justice concluded in paragraph 44 thus, “In the absence of withdrawal, there cannot be any trace of doubt that the employees would be governed by the rules existing at the time of floating of the Scheme which has to be read into the Scheme, for the Scheme clearly stipulates that the employees availing the benefit of the Scheme would be entitled to pension as per the Pension Rules— InK. Mohandas (supra), if an employee has completed 20 years of service, apart from pensionary benefits, he would also get the benefit under Regulation 29(5) as stipulated therein.”
3. Madam, contrary to the statement made by the Dy.MD &CDO in his email of 14.12.2015 (copy attached), in the judgment, the SC had quoted extensively from the BOI vs K.Mohandas judgment dated 27.3.2009 before concluding as stated in paragraph 2.3 (supra),making it clear as daylight that Mohandas judgment is equally applicable in the case of SBIVRS retirees. The contents of paragraph 2& 2.1 should also convince you that the Bank need not have to await the clearance, nay it need not have to refer to the GOI at any stage for making payment of pension to its retirees. All that the Trustees have to do is to simply act as per the provisions of the Regulations. It is a PITY that because of the ignorance of the management, in the entire Banking industry, including the subsidiaries of SBI, in the case of the RETIREES alone, pension was paid as per pre-revised salary, while all others got pension as per their Pension Rules as evidenced by excerpts from paragraph 17 of K.Mohandas case, which reads “17. The optees have been given retiral benefits by the respective banks under VRS 2000 save and except the benefit of pension under Regulation 29(5).” While the officials of the GOI had advised banks to change the definition of pay for purposes of pension as per the 6th bipartite salary, perhaps, only the SBI management acted as per these instructions, which speaks volumes about the servility of the management, little knowing that by doing so, it is violating the statute!
4. It took more than 300 years for the Country to get freedom from the British Rule, but the Bank’s management still seems to be functioning under the impression that it has no freedom to act on its own as, perhaps, it believes that MOF owns it. I wish to bring to the attention of the management, Maha Kavi Bharathiar’s inspiring Tamil song Achamillai, Achamillai Acham Enbadillaiye, Uchi meedu van vizhuntha pothilum achamillaiye (meaning fear not, fear not, there is nothing like fear; even if the heavens were to fall on our heads, we won’t have fears!) sung to inspire the citizens during days of Independence struggle. The Bank being an autonomous body should act fearlessly on its own to remove the sufferings of its family members and law permits it to do so! No need to refer to the GOI on pension matters. Can we expect your munificence at least now to end the long struggle of the RETIREES? It is a pity that for getting our own property, we have to cringe and beg repeatedly! Does the GOI have jurisdiction over SBI Pensioners only? Is there any logic in it?