Monday, September 12, 2011

            Mere registration of an FIR or filing of a charge sheet under the Prevention of Corruption Act is not enough to withhold the release of pension benefits due to a government servant. The Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) has ruled that final pension, gratuity, leave encashment or other such benefits due to a government servant on retirement cannot be held back in the event of a criminal complaint against him/her.

            The ruling came from a bench of CAT chairman VK Bali and member Ramesh Chandra Panda, which ordered the ministry of finance and the Central Board of Direct Taxes to restore forthwith the full pension of VB Bansal, Assistant Commissioner of Income Tax, and make payment of all arrears due within six weeks. Invoking rule 69 of the Central Civil Service (Pension) Rules 1972, the government had withheld Bansal's final pension, gratuity, leave encashment and some other post-retirement benefits on the ground that a case of disproportionate assets registered against him by the Central Bureau of Investigation on February 2005 was still pending.

            Bansal had contended that after investigation, the CBI sent a report to the court for cancellation of the FIR in 2007, and he could not be made to suffer if the court had not taken any decision even after four years. The government argued that if no decision had been taken by the Magistrate concerned, on the cancellation report sent by CBI, it shall be deemed that judicial proceedings were pending.

            But the CAT rejected the government's arguments, saying: "It is only after the Magistrate may not accept the cancellation report and may order further investigation in the matter, and on such investigation, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) collects sufficient evidence, which may sustain conviction and the Magistrate may take cognisance, that judicial proceedings can be said to be pending against the applicant (Bansal)."While ordering payment of full pension and post-retirement benefits to Bansal, the bench did not agree to payment of interest on the amount due."However, if the arrears as mentioned above and the withheld post-retiral dues are not released to the applicant within the time mentioned above, the applicant will be entitled to interest thereon at the rate of 9% per annum from that date till the date of actual payment," it added.

- Hindustan Times, 11.09.2011

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