SBI issues notice to a widow pensioner for recovery of extra amount credited by mistake, High Court stays order

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The Chhattisgarh high court has provided major relief to a widow by ordering a stay on a recovery notice issued by the State Bank of India. The notice demanded that the widow repay an additional amount that was paid to her under the family pension after the death of her husband.

Sahluram Bhagat, who was posted as a constable in the 2nd Battalion, Chhattisgarh Armed Force, Sakri, Bilaspur, passed away on August 19, 2011. After his death, his widow, Sumitra Bhagat, started receiving family pension amounts.

On February 10, 2023, the widow received a notice from the chief manager of SBI, Raipur, stating that she had been paid an excess amount under the family pension and that the excess amount paid would be recovered from her monthly pension amount, 12 years after the commencement of the pension.

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The widow moved the high court to challenge the notice. Counsels Abhishek Pandey and Ghanshyam Sharma argued that a pensioner should have been issued a show cause notice and a thorough enquiry should have been conducted into the matter before issuing the recovery notice, citing a Supreme Court judgment in the case of Bhagwan Shukla vs Union of India and others.

The counsels argued in the court of judge Rakesh Mohan Pandey that only after serious charges are found against the pensioner can a recovery notice be issued. They further submitted to the court that the widow was unaware of the service rules and other legal aspects of the matter. If there is any fault, the pension office is responsible, and the officials concerned in the pension office should be issued a notice for the recovery, the counsels submitted to the court.

The petitioner was not given an opportunity to present her side through a show cause notice, said the counsels. The court was also informed that no investigation into the claim of extra payment was made. The counsels urged the court to reject the SBI’s recovery notice.

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The counsels submitted that the respondent has deducted the excess payment from the pension amount in the last two months. The court considered the fact and said that no show cause notice was issued, and no inquiry was conducted before passing the impugned order. Therefore, there shall be a stay on further deduction from the petitioner’s pension until the next hearing. The court has issued a notice to the chief manager and the branch manager of the SBI and listed the matter for a hearing in July 2023.

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