Staff opting 'Golden handshake' VRS can't claim parity

Supreme Court in New Delhi (PTI Photo)

Employees opting for voluntary retirement scheme with a 'Golden Handshake' cannot claim parity with the other staff, who completed full tenure of service. Such staff can't demand more benefits in terms of revision of pay-scale, the Supreme Court has said.

A bench of Justices Sanjay Kishan Kaul and K M Joseph said after having availed of the benefits under the voluntary retirement scheme, the employees cannot ask for incorporating future changes.

“This would defeat the very purpose of having a VRS, i.e., to bring in financial efficiency, as it would not be possible that despite having paid the amounts, the organization can be lumped with further financial liability arising from re-thoughts by such persons, who have already availed of the VRS. The VRS cannot be frustrated in this manner,” the court said.

The court relied upon its previous judgement in A K Bindal case to point out the very rationale of bringing in VRS is to reduce surplus staff and to bring in financial efficiency.

“It is in this context that it is referred to as the ‘Golden Handshake’. Ex gratia amounts are paid, not for doing any work or rendering any service, but in lieu of employees leaving services of the company and foregoing any further claims or rights in the same. It is optional, not compulsory. It is a take it or leave it situation. Thus, anyone availing of a VRS does so with his eyes wide open,” the court said.

The top court rejected a plea by 31 employees of the Industrial Finance Corporation of India Ltd, who said they were entitled to enhanced pension on the basis of subsequent revision of pay-scales, which was given retrospective effect, with effect from the time period when they were still employees. All of them had availed the VRS-2008 and were relieved on February 25, 2008.

Terming their claim as “misadventure”, the court said they cannot claim parity with the employees who had retired after full length of service and did not terminate their relationship.

“To a question to their counsel, as to what would be the position qua persons who may have retired on the same date, on attaining the age of superannuation, as the persons who sought termination of relationship under VRS-2008 with all the benefits. The answer is categorical that such persons have not been paid the benefit of revised pension for the past period,” the court said, allowing a petition filed by the IFCI against a judgement by the Delhi High Court.

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