A petition has been filed in the Punjab and Haryana high court seeking direction to Panjab University (PU) to let legal heirs of its deceased employees opt for pension scheme. The public interest litigation moved by advocate RD Anand, a former senate member of Panjab University, will come up for hearing on May 15.
In the petition, it has been stated that PU syndicate in its meeting held on July 12, 2006, had extended family pension to spouses of deceased employees by framing a new rule.
According to the rule, the benefit of family pension is to be extended to the employees, who have expired either before or after their retirement, without exercising the option of pension under Panjab University Pension Scheme within the period/date prescribed for the purpose.
The petitioner contended that as a follow-up of the new rule, the varsity invited options from eligible persons through a public notice dated July 31, 2006. Thereafter, eligible heirs deposited the contributory provident fund (CPF) as well as interest thereon, as sought by PU to entitle them to pension.
However, after that the new vice chancellor took over and he refused to consider their cases and refunded their amount without assigning any reason, stating only that the varsity had not yet decided the issue of family pension.
The syndicate, in its meeting held on January 30, 2010, had authorised the vice chancellor to decide on behalf of the syndicate in consultation with the members, who were in favour of family pension being allowed to the legal heirs and, stood by the rule dated July 12, 2007.
Anand alleged that the vice chancellor was adamant about reversing the decision taken in the syndicate meeting on July 12, 2006, which was presided over by his predecessor.
The petitioner said PU had rejected the representation of legal heirs of the deceased employees on recommendation of an ad-hoc pension committee, which in its meeting dated March 17, 2011, observed that the legal heirs were not entitled to pension.
"Earlier the pension was given out of pension corpus," Anand said. "The committee members feared that the pension pie would get shrink if more persons started sharing it. Now, it is part of the annual budget of the university, and it is considered to be an approval expenditure in its budget."
He added that in other universities, pension schemes were formulated on almost identical lines and, family pension was granted with retrospective effect in the event of the death of an employee before or after retirement before the cut-off date.