High Court Restrains Haryana Government from Recovering Commuted Pension from Retired Employees

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The Punjab and Haryana High Court has issued an order that could have significant implications for retired employees and pensioners in the region. The court has restrained the Haryana government from recovering the commuted value of pension from employees who have completed 10 years of retirement. Previously, the state government was recovering this amount from pension until 15 years after an employee’s retirement.

Background and Petitions Filed

The order was passed by a division bench of the court, consisting of Justice Sanjeev Prakash Sharma and Justice Sudeepti Sharma. The bench was hearing a group of petitions filed by retired taxation inspector Sham Sunder (71) and several other pensioners who had retired from various departments of the Haryana government.

The bench has also issued a notice to the Haryana government through the chief secretary and accountant general (A&E), requesting a response to the issue by August 21.

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Interim Order and Clarification

The bench clarified that the interim order stays any further recovery for cases where the concerned petitioner has completed 10 years of retirement or more. The order was released on Thursday.

Arguments of the Petitioners

The petitioners sought the quashing of Rules 95 and 106 of the Haryana Civil Services (Pension) Rules, 2016, claiming that these provisions were illegal and resulted in undue enrichment for the state. They also requested directions to restore their full pension immediately after the expiry of the actual period of recovery, which is 11.5 years since the commuted value of pension, along with the prescribed rate of interest of 8.1%, has been recovered.

The petitioners’ counsel, advocate Vikas Chatrath, argued that the state government was recovering an excessive amount of commuted value of pension along with the prescribed rate of interest over a period of 15 years (180 installments), whereas the same amount could be recovered in 11.5 years (around 135 installments). This, according to Chatrath, amounted to unjust enrichment and contravened Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution. He further contended that the difference in retirement age between state and central government employees affected the calculation of the amount.

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Argument against Fixation of 15-Year Restoration Period

The counsel argued that Rule 95 of the Haryana Civil Services (Pension) Rules, 2016, showed that the authorities’ underlying intent was to avoid any loss. However, the fixation of a 15-year period for restoration was not justified as it lacked a basis and foundation. In case a commuted pensioner dies before the period, the state does not suffer any loss as the family pension becomes payable. The counsel informed the court that the family pension amounts to 30% of the last emoluments at the time of retirement or death after a certain period of time.

Conclusion

The Punjab and Haryana High Court’s order restraining the Haryana government from recovering the commuted value of pension from retired employees who have completed 10 years of retirement could have significant implications for pensioners in the region. The court has sought a response from the government and further developments are expected after August 21.

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