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Dr. Virendra Singh v. State Of U.P. Thru' Secy. Education Lucknow & Others - WRIT - A No. 39723 of 2005  RD-AH 10130 (25 May 2007)
Reserved on 27.04.2007
Delivered on 25.05.2007
Civil Misc. Writ Petition No. 39723 of 2005
Dr. Virendra Singh
State of U.P. and others
Hon'ble Anjani Kumar, J.
Hon'ble Sudhir Agarwal, J.
The petitioner who has retired on 30.6.2002 while working as Principal at C.L. Jain Degree College, Firozabad has approached this Court against inaction of the respondents by non payment of his retiral benefits and pension.
The petitioner was selected by U.P. Higher Education Services Commission and appointed on the post of Principal on 27.7.1984 at Nehru College, Chhibramau, District Farrukhabad. He continued to work at different places and retired on 30.6.2002 after attaining the age of superannuation. It appears that the entire amount of General Provident Fund has not been paid despite several representations besides pension and other retiral benefits, hence this writ petition.
The respondents no. 1, 2 and 6 who are responsible for payment of retiral benefits to the petitioner have filed counter affidavit stating that Section 33 of the U.P. State Universities Act, 1973 (hereinafter referred to as "1973 Act") deals with pension, insurance and provident fund of teachers of aided, affiliated and non government college in the State of U.P. which provides that the said benefits shall be regulated in accordance with general and special orders issued by the State Government. The details of service of the petitioner as Principal in different colleges has been stated in para 3(c) as under:-
1. R.B.S. College Agra From 19-9-64 to 19-7-84
2. Nehru College Chibaramau, Kanmauj From 20-7-84 to 2-1-86
3. S.M. College, Chanduasi From 3-1-86 to 4-7-91
4. C.L. Jain College, Firozabad From 7-1-93 to 4-7-01
It is said that a sum of Rs. 3,65,974/- towards GPF has been paid to the petitioner vide letter dated 12.9.2002. Further on reexamination it was found that a sum of Rs. 23,806/- was also payable to the petitioner towards GPF which was sanctioned vide letter dated 20.9.2005 and it is said that no further amount is due.
The petitioner has filed a rejoinder affidavit stating that the sum of Rs. 3,65,974/- towards GPF was actually paid to him on 27.11.2002 and the balance amount of Rs. 23,806/- was paid in September, 2005 only. No reason for delay of more than three years in payment of Rs. 23,806/- towards GPF has been stated or assigned anywhere in the counter affidavit and therefore the petitioner is entitled for payment of interest on delayed payment of the said amount of GPF.
We have heard learned counsel for the petitioner and perused the record.
It is not disputed that after having the benefit of end of Session the petitioner admittedly attained the age of superannuation and retired on 30.6.2002. The Director of Education sanctioned the amount of GPF of Rs. 3,65,974/- vide order dated 12.9.2002 which was released to the petitioner, through college concerned namely, C.L. Jain Degree College, Firozabad, on 27.11.2002. We do not find any culpable or unreasonable delay in payment of the said amount. However, there is no justification for delay in payment of Rs. 23,806/- towards GPF which has been paid to the petitioner in September, 2005. The respondents no. 1, 2 and 6 in the counter affidavit have only said that verification of documents from various colleges took some time on account whereof the said payment was delayed. The completion of the documents and its maintenance is the responsibility of the authorities and for any lapse in this regard, they cannot penalize or victimize poor employee by keeping his rightful dues unpaid for years together. In fact the respondents have not given any proper reply as to how and in what circumstances the aforesaid amount was not paid to the petitioner earlier and it took more than three years. In our view the delay in payment of Rs. 23,806/- to the petitioner is clearly unjust and arbitrary. This has to be deprecated and condemned. Inaction and apathy on the part of the respondents in this regard is clearly unjust and has to be deprecated. It would be useful to reproduce the certain observations of this Court in Virendra Prakash Verma Vs. State of U.P. and others, 2007 (5) ADJ 16 with respect to the duty and responsibility of public functionaries.
"It is no doubt true that an employer for just and valid reasons and in exercise of power vested in it can defer or deny pension and other retiral benefits to an employee provided the action of the employer is in accordance with the procedure prescribed in law and such a power also emanates from statute or the relevant provisions having force of law. In our system, the Constitution being supreme, yet the real power vest in the people of India since the Constitution has been enacted "for the people, by the people and of the people". A public functionary cannot be permitted to act like a dictator causing harassment to a common man and in particular when the person subject to harassment is his own ex-employee who has served for a long time and has earned certain benefits under the rules recoverable after attaining the age of superannuation. Pension and retiral benefits are not bountee but right of an employee crystallized in deferred wages to which he is entitled under the rules after retirement and non payment thereof is clearly violative of Article 21 of the Constitution of India. Therefore, it becomes more important for the public functionaries and the authorities to act with better sense of responsibility so that their ex-employee may not be subject to harassment at the old age when they have already retired and have to survive and maintain themselves and their family with the meager amount payable in the form of retiral benefits.
The respondents being a Government Company wholly owned by the State of U.P. is "State" under Article 12 of the Constitution of India and its officers are public functionaries. As observed under our Constitution, sovereignty vest in the people. Every limb of the constitutional machinery therefore is obliged to be people oriented. Public authorities acting in violation of constitutional or statutory provisions oppressively are accountable for their behaviour. It is high time that this Court should remind the respondents that they are expected to perform in a more responsible and reasonable manner so as not to cause undue and avoidable harassment to the public at large and in particular their ex-employees like the petitioner. The respondents have the support of the entire machinery and the various powers of the statute and an ordinary citizen or a common man is hardly equipped to match such might of the State or its instrumentalities. Harassment of a common man by public authorities is socially abhorring and legally impressible. This may harm the common man personally but the injury to society is far more grievous. Crime and corruption, thrive and prosper in society due to lack of public resistance. An ordinary citizen instead of complaining and fighting mostly succumbs to the pressure of undesirable functioning in offices instead of standing against it. It is on account of, sometimes, lack of resources or unmatched status which give the feeling of helplessness. Nothing is more damaging than the feeling of helplessness. Even in ordinary matters a common man who has neither the political backing nor the financial strength to match the inaction in public oriented departments gets frustrated and it erodes the credibility in the system. This is unfortunate that matters which require immediate attention are being allowed to linger on and remain unattended. No authority can allow itself to act in a manner which is arbitrary. Public administration no doubt involves a vast amount of administrative discretion which shields action of administrative authority but where it is found that the exercise of power is capricious or other than bona fide, it is the duty of the Court to take effective steps and rise to the occasion otherwise the confidence of the common man would shake. It is the responsibility of the Court in such matters to immediately rescue such common man so that he may have the confidence that he is not helpless but a bigger authority is there to take care of him and to restrain the arbitrary and arrogant unlawful inaction or illegal exercise of power on the part of the public functionaries.
We entirely agree with the said view. Since delay in non payment of the amount of GPF of Rs. 23,806/- to the petitioner for more than 3 years is clearly unreasonable, and arbitrary, therefore in our view the petitioner is entitled for payment of interest on the said amount. The writ petition is accordingly allowed partly directing the respondents to pay interest at the rate of 8% on the amount of Rs. 23806/- to the petitioner for the period from 12.9.2002 till it was actually paid, within a period of three months from the date of production of certified copy of this order. The petitioner shall also be entitled for cost which is quantified to Rs. 500/-.
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