The Himachal Pradesh High Court observed that a right/benefit vested/bestowed in the employee under substantive provision of Regulation cannot be taken away by its proviso.

The Court explained that the ‘Broken period’ of service would include the service that is less than 1 year. As per Regulation No.18 of UCO Bank (Employees’) Pension Regulations if in a given case service rendered is more than 6 months, then that has to be treated as 1 complete year.

The bench of Chief Justice M.S. Ramachandra Rao and Justice Jyotsna Rewal Dua observed, “In the instant case, the respondent had 10 months and 5 days of service, over and above 9 completed years. Therefore, 10 months and 5 days of service is required to be treated as 1 complete year.”

Advocate Prem P. Chauhan appeared for the Appellant and Advocate Suneel Awasthi appeared for the Respondent.

Brief Facts-

In the impugned judgment Single Judge held that the Respondent, Chaman Singh who was the Writ Petitioner had rendered 9 years 10 months and 5 days of service, which by Regulation No.18 of UCO Bank (Employees’) Pension Regulations, 1995 had to be taken as 10 years. On that basis, the respondent was held to have satisfied the required 10 years of qualifying service to be eligible for pension laid down in Regulation No.14. In the case, the writ petition was accordingly allowed and the employer-bank was directed to release the pensionary dues payable to the respondent.

Hence, the UCO bank approached the High Court with this Letters Patent Appeal against the impugned judgment.

The Court went through Regulation 14 which prescribed a condition of rendering a minimum of 10 years of service for an employee to qualify for a pension and Regulation 18 which provided for the computation of ‘broken period’ of service of less than one year.

The Court further mentioned the decision in Indian Bank and Another Vs. N. Venkatramani where the Supreme Court elaborated the meaning of “Broken Lot” and observed, “The term "broken lot" has been defined in Black's Law Dictionary, as “broken lot. Odd lot; less than the usual unit of measurement or unit of sale; e.g. less than 100 shares of stock."

The Court rejected the contention of the Petitioner that the proviso to Regulation No.18 debars counting such broken period of service for pension and observed, “It is well settled that a proviso cannot override or supplant the substantive provision. The proviso cannot take away or nullify the right conferred by the substantive provision.”

The Court further relied on the decision in Rohitash Kumar & Ors Vs. Om Prakash Sharma & Ors.3, where as per the Court Apex Court held, “the normal function of a proviso is generally, to provide for an exception i.e. exception of something that is outside the ambit of the usual intention of the enactment, or to qualify something enacted therein, which, but for the proviso would be within the purview of such enactment. Thus, its purpose is to exclude something which would otherwise fall squarely within the general language of the main enactment.”

The Court noted that substantive provision of Regulation No.18 of UCO Bank (Employees’) Pension Regulations, provides a method for counting broken periods of service of an employee. In terms where service of less than a year but more than 6 months is to be rounded off as one completed year. As per the Court, this benefit of computation of service accorded to an employee under the substantive provision of Regulation No.18 cannot be watered down by the proviso to regulation.

The Court found the appeal devoid of merit and dismissed it.

Cause Title: UCO Bank & Ors v. Chaman Singh (Neutral Citation: 2024:HHC:1348)


Appellant: Adv. Prem P. Chauhan

Respondent: Adv. Suneel Awasthi

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