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Bypassing HC ruling: In honorarium garb, Haryana govt grants pension to aided college retirees

Decision despite HC ruling: Move to benefit former state BJP president among 146 employees who retired between 1988 and 1998

india Updated: Jan 18, 2018 14:03 IST
Hitender Rao
Hitender Rao
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Punjab and Haryana high court,government-aided colleges,Deen Dayal Upadhayay Honorarium Scheme
Manohar Lal Khattar(HT File )

The state council of ministers on Tuesday approved pension for government-aided colleges’ 146 employees, who retired between 1988 and 1998, in the garb of the Deen Dayal Upadhayay Honorarium Scheme.

The decision, which will benefit former state BJP president Prof Ganeshi Lal among others, comes despite an adverse ruling by the Punjab and Haryana high court on the issue. “The expenditure will be incurred within the existing budget provision on account of honorarium in the shape of pension to the retirees of the aided colleges…,’’ read the terms and conditions of the scheme.

The honorarium route was taken as these employees would have to deposit back the contributory provident fund granted to them at the time of retirement if they get pension now.

Financial liability on exchequer
  • Though the cabinet memorandum does not speak about the financial liability arising due to the scheme, the decision means grant of monthly honorarium of Rs 30,000 to a principal, Rs 25,000 to lecturers, Rs 11,000 to Class-3 non-teaching staff and Rs 6,000 to Class-4 non-teaching staff. The policy will come into effect from April 1, 2017.

The cabinet memorandum

The higher education department in its cabinet memorandum said while government-aided college employees who retired after May 11, 1998 were given 100% pension by the state government, those who retired at an early date were not entitled to it.

“Such employees have been making representations for pension. Those who retired from aided colleges before May 10, 1998, have taken their contributory provident fund (employee as well employer’s share along with interest). They also approached the high court and the Supreme Court but their petitions were disposed of,’’ reads the memorandum tabled in the meeting of council of ministers.

HC dismissed pension pleas in 2010

The employees of private aided colleges had filed a petition in the Punjab and Haryana high court challenging the Haryana Affiliated Colleges (Pension and Contributory Provident Fund) Rules, 1999, that provide pension benefits to employees who retired after May 11, 1998.

In August 2010, the HC while disposing of the appeals said the single judge had examined two questions of law — whether the government could introduce the pension scheme with a cut-off date having regard to financial liability and whether the said decision was arbitrary.

“...the employees who were earlier governed by the contributory provident fund scheme and already retired before introduction of the new pension scheme have no vested right to claim the benefits of the pension scheme. Any relevant cut-off date could be fixed for applicability of the scheme and it would not amount to discrimination merely because some of the employees who have already retired from service have been benefited,’’ the HC had said.

“Since the petitioners have received the benefits of contributory provident fund as per rules applicable at the time of retirement, they cannot put forward a claim for parity with the employees of the universities or the employees of state government departments.

The employer is free to fix a cut-off date in such a matter,’’ the HC had said.

Education minister defends cabinet decision

Justifying the cabinet decision, state education minister Ram Bilas Sharma said it was a genuine case. Asked why it was done despite an adverse court ruling, Sharma said they have obligations that needed to be fulfilled. He confirmed that former state BJP chief Prof Ganeshi Lal was one of the beneficiaries of the scheme. Prof Lal said he was a maths lecturer in a Sirsa college.

First Published: Jan 18, 2018 14:03 IST