HC directs bank to include retired employee in pension scheme
The Bombay High Court has directed Union Bank of India to include a retired employee in its 2010 pension scheme although he had not filled up the requisite application form within the stipulated period.
Justices R P Sondurbaldota and V M Kanade accepted the contention of the aggrieved employee that his case should be considered, though belatedly because at the relevant time he had gone abroad with his family and thus could not fill up the form for the 2010 pension scheme.
The judges were recently hearing a petition filed by Kayoji Sorabji Mirza, who had challenged the decision of the bank to reject his application for inclusion in the pension scheme through a letter dated August 29, 2011.
"In our view, the petitioner is entitled to get the benefit of 2010 pension scheme as he is a retired bank employee and the scheme otherwise is specifically applicable to him," the judges said in a recent order.
"It is an admitted position that the petitioner was abroad during the said period of two months and, as such, firstly, he was not aware of the said scheme which was made applicable to the retired employees and, secondly, he was not aware of the said period during which the application was to be tendered," the bench noted.
"Taking into consideration these peculiar facts and circumstances of the case and also that the petitioner was abroad during the period of two months and was, therefore, not in a position to make the application for opting for the said Scheme, the bank is directed to make 2010 pension scheme applicable to him though he had not filed his application for option during the said period," the judges said.
However, the bench clarified that this direction is given in the peculiar facts and circumstances of the case and without considering the merits as to whether the employees would be entitled to apply after the cut off date.
The court asked the bank to intimate to petitioner the amount which has to be deposited by him within a period of three weeks. The judges also asked the petitioner to deposit the said amount with the bank within four weeks thereafter.
After the amount is deposited by the petitioner, the bank shall immediately process the application without waiting for expiry of four weeks and the pension scheme would be made applicable in the following month after paying the amount, the judges further ruled while disposing of the petition.
The petitioner was appointed as a cashier-cum-clerk with the Union Bank of India in 1966. He opted for a Voluntary Retirement Scheme after attaining 55 years age.
Sometime between August 2010 and September 2010, the Union Bank of India took a policy decision to give another opportunity even to retired employees to opt for a pension scheme in view of the bipartite settlement between workmen's union and the management.
Accordingly, the bank gave an option even to retired employees to join the pension scheme between September 1, 2010 and October 30, 2010, subject to certain terms and conditions to be complied with.
The petitioner's case is that he had gone abroad to see his grandchild, who was born on February 25, 2007. He returned to India on October 29, 2010.
He contended that he was not aware of the scheme which was made applicable to the retired employees of the bank. Hence, he could not give option for the pension scheme due to these unavoidable circumstances.
The petitioner contended that he was not aware that such a scheme was made applicable to retired employees since no personal notice was issued.
He further argued that during the relevant period he was not in India and hence he could not give his option during the said period for the pension scheme.
The petitioner further submitted that immediately after he returned to India, he made various attempts to obtain pension form. However, since the cut off date was over, the pension form was not provided to him and, consequently, he could not apply under the said scheme.