“ To sum up the answer for the two questions are as follows:
(ii) The circular, issued by the Finance Department, referring to the withholding of the leave encashment would not apply to the present facts of the case as it has no sanctity of law”.
“It is true that there is no specific provision in the Rules laying down the principle of promotion of junior or senior grade – officers to selection grade posts. But that does not mean that till statutory rules are framed in this behalf the Government cannot issue administrative instructions regarding the principle to be followed in promotions of the officers concerned to selection grade posts. It is true that Government cannot amend or supersede statutory rules by administrative instructions, but if the rules are silent on any particular point Government can fill up the gaps and supplement the rules and issue instructions and inconsistent with the rules already framed”.
“The approach of the respondents raises a vital and none too easy of answer, question as to why pension is paid. And why was it required to be liberalised? Is the employer, which expression will include even the State, bound to pay pension? Is there any obligation on the employer to provide for the erstwhile employee even after the contract of employment has come to an end and the employee has ceased to render service?
What is a pension? What are the goals of pension? What public interest or purpose, if any, it seeks to serve? If it does seek to serve some public purpose, is it thwarted by such artificial division of retirement pre and post a certain date? We need seek answer to these and incidental questions so as to render just justice between parties to this petition.
The antiquated notion of pension being a bounty a gratituous payment depending upon the sweet will or grace of the employer not claimable as a right and, therefore, no right to pension can be enforced through Court has been swept under the carpet by the decision of the Constitution Bench in Deoki Nandan Prasad v. State of Bihar and Ors. Su. S.C.R. 634 wherein this Court authoritatively ruled that pension is a right and the payment of it does not depend upon the discretion of the Government but is governed by the rules and a Government servant coming within those rules is entitled to claim pension. It was further held that the grant of pension does not depend upon any one’s discretion. It is only for the purpose of quantifying the amount having regard to service and other allied maters that it may be necessary for the authority to pass an order to that effect but the right to receive pension flows to the officer not because of any such order but by virtue of the rules. This view was reaffirmed in State of Punjab and Anr. V. Iqbal Singh (1976) IILLJ 377SC”.
Bihar Pension Rules, as applicable to the State of Jharkhand. Rule 43(b) of the said Pension Rules confers power on the State Government to withhold or withdraw a pension or part thereof under certain circumstances. This Rule 43(b) reads as under:
“43(b) The State Government further reserve to themselves the right of withholding or withdrawing a pension or any part of it, whether permanently or for specified period, and the right of ordering the recovery from a pension of the whole or part of any pecuniary loss caused to Government if the pensioner is found in departmental or judicial proceeding to have been guilty to grave misconduct, or to have caused pecuniary loss to Government misconduct, or to have caused pecuniary loss to Government by misconduct or negligence, during his service including service rendered on re-employment after retirement”.
(i) The State Government has the power to withhold or withdraw pension or any part of it when the pensioner is found to be guilty of grave misconduct either in a departmental proceeding or judicial proceeding.
(ii) This provision does not empower the State to invoke the said power while the department proceeding or judicial proceeding are pending.
(iii) The power of withholding leave encashment is not provided under this rule to the State irrespective of the result of the above proceedings.
(iv) This power can be invoked only when the proceedings are concluded finding guilty and not before.
10. There is also a Proviso to Rule 43(b), which provides that:-
ii Shall be in respect of an event which took place not more than four years before the institution of such proceedings.
iii Shall be conducted by such authority and at such place or places as the State Government may direct and in accordance with the procedure applicable to proceedings on which an order of dismissal from service may be made:-
B. Judicial proceedings, if not instituted while the Government Servant was on duty either before retirement or during re-employment shall have been instated in accordance with sub clause (ii) of clause (a) and
C. The Bihar Public Service Commission, shall be consulted before final orders are passed.
(b) It shall be in respect of an event which took place not more than four years before the institution of the proceedings.
(c) Such proceedings shall be conducted by the enquiry officer in accordance with the proceedings by which dismissal of the services can be made.
“29. The last question to be considered, is, whether the right to receive pension by a Government servant is property, so as to attract Articles 19(1)(f) and 31(1) of the Constitution. This question falls to be decided in order to consider whether the writ petition is maintainable under Article 32. To this aspect, we have already adverted to earlier and we now proceed to consider the same.
30. According to the petitioner the right to receive pension is property and the respondents by an executive order dated June 12, 1968 have wrongfully withheld his pension. That order affects his fundamental rights under Articles 19(1)(f) and 31(1) of the Constitution. The respondents, as we have already indicated, do not dispute the right of the petitioner to get pension, but for the order passed on August 5, 1966. There is only a bald averment in the counter-affidavit that no question of any fundamental right arises for consideration. Mr. Jha, learned counsel for the respondents, was not prepared to take up the position that the right to receive pension cannot be considered to be property under any circumstances. According to him, in this case, no order has been passed by the State granting pension. We understood the learned counsel to urge that if the State had passed an order granting pension and later on resiles from that order, the latter order may be considered to affect the petitioner’s right regarding property so as to attract Articles 19(1) (f) and 31(1) of the Constitution.
31. We are not inclined to accept the contention of the learned counsel for the respondents. By a reference to the material provisions in the Pension Rules, we have already indicated that the grant of pension does not depend upon an order being passed by the authorities to that effect. It may be that for the purposes of quantifying the amount having regard to the period of service and other allied matters, it may be necessary for the authorities to pass an order to that effect, but the right to receive pension flows to an officer not because of the said order but by virtue of the Rules. The Rules, we have already pointed out, clearly recognise the right of persons like the petitioner to receive pension under the circumstances mentioned therein.
32. The question whether the pension granted to a public servant is property attracting Article 31(1) came up for consideration before the Punjab High Court in Bhagwant Singh v. Union of India A.I.R. 1962 Pun 503. It was held that such a right constitutes “property” and any interference will be a breach of Article 31(1) of the Constitution. It was further held that the State cannot by an executive order curtail or abolish altogether the right of the public servant to receive pension. This decision was given by a learned Single Judge. This decision was taken up in Letters Patent Appeal by the Union of India. The Letters Patent Bench in its decision in Union of India v. Bhagwant Singh I.L.R. 1965 Pun 1 approved the decision of the learned Single Judge. The Letters Patent Bench held that the pension granted to a public servant on his retirement is “property” within the meaning of Article 31(1) of the Constitution and he could be deprived of the same only by an authority of law and that pension does not cease to be property on the mere denial or cancellation of it. It was further held that the character of pension as “property” cannot possibly undergo such mutation at the whim of a particular person or authority.
33. The matter again came up before a Full Bench of the Punjab and Haryana High Court in K.R. Erry v. The State of Punjab I.L.R. 1967 P & H 278. The High Court had to consider the nature of the right of an officer to get pension. The majority quoted with approval the principles laid down in the two earlier decisions of the same High Court, referred to above, and held that the pension is not to be treated as a bounty payable on the sweet will and pleasure of the Government and that the right to superannuation pension including its amount is a valuable right vesting in a Government servant It was further held by the majority that even though an opportunity had already been afforded to the officer on an earlier occasion for showing cause against the imposition of penalty for lapse or misconduct on his part and he has been found guilty, nevertheless, when a cut is sought to be imposed in the quantum of pension payable to an officer on the basis of misconduct already proved against him, a further opportunity to show cause in that regard must be given to the officer. This view regarding the giving of further opportunity was expressed by the learned Judges on the basis of the relevant Punjab Civil Service Rules. But the learned Chief Justice in his dissenting judgment was not prepared to agree with the majority that under such circumstances a further opportunity should be given to an officer when a reduction in the amount of pension payable is made by the State. It is not necessary for us in the case on hand, to consider the question whether before taking action by way of reducing or denying the pension on the basis of disciplinary action already taken, a further notice to show cause should be given to an officer. That question does not arise for consideration before us. Nor are we concerned with the further question regarding the procedure, if any, to be adopted by the authorities before reducing or withholding the pension for the first time after the retirement of an officer. Hence we express no opinion regarding the views expressed by the majority and the minority Judges in the above Punjab High C.A. No.6770/2013 @ SLP (C) No. 1427 of 2009 Court decision, on this aspect. But we agree with the view of the majority when it has approved its earlier decision that pension is not a bounty payable on the sweet will and pleasure of the Government and that, on the other hand, the right to pension is a valuable right vesting in a government servant.
34. This Court in State of Madhya Pradesh v. Ranojirao Shinde and Anr. MANU/SC/0030/1968 : 3SCR489 had to consider the question whether a “cash grant” is “property” within the meaning of that expression in Articles 19(1)(f) and 31(1) of the Constitution. This Court held that it was property, observing “it is obvious that a right to sum of money is property”.
35. Having due regard to the above decisions, we are of the opinion that the right of the petitioner to receive pension is property under Article 31(1) and by a mere executive order the State had no power to withhold the same. Similarly, the said claim is also property under Article 19(1)(f) and it is not saved by Sub-article (5) of Article 19. Therefore, it follows that the order dated June 12, 1968 denying the petitioner right to receive pension affects the fundamental right of the petitioner under Articles 19(1) (f) and 31(1)of the Constitution, and as such the writ petition under Article 32 is maintainable. It may be that under the Pension Act (Act 23 of 1871) there is a bar against a civil court entertaining any suit relating to the matters mentioned therein. That does not stand in the way of a Writ of Mandamus being issued to the State to properly consider the claim of the petitioner for payment of pension according to law”.
“300A Persons not to be deprived of property save by authority of law. – No person shall be deprived of his property save by authority of law.”