CCS (Pension) Rules, 1972: SC Dismisses HC's Order Permitting Benefits To DRDO Employee Promoted As Scientist ‘G’
The Supreme Court while allowing an appeal filed by the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO) dismissed the order passed by the Karnataka High Court wherein it granted the consequential benefits to the employee of the Defence Research Development Organisation (DRDO) including the benefit of past service that she had rendered for computing her terminal benefits.
The employee was promoted as Scientist ‘G’ and the High Court in this matter entitled her to all such benefits as were permissible to her on the premise that she held the post of Scientist ‘H’ and held that the last drawn pay in that post would be the criteria for settling all her benefits.
The Supreme Court Bench of Justice M.R. Shah and Justice Hima Kohli held, “… the High Court has committed a serious error in observing that the original writ petitioner – respondent herein would be entitled to all such benefits as are permissible to her on the premise that she held the post of Scientist – H and the last pay drawn in that post would be the criteria for settling all her benefits. Once, she was relieved from NTRO and she had reported for duty as Scientist – G in DRDO as observed hereinabove, thereafter she cannot be permitted to claim that she had continued working as Scientist – H in NTRO.”
The Bench further observed that even as per the CCS (Pension) Rules, 1972, she could not have been given the pensionary benefits / terminal benefits as Scientist -H in NTRO.
“… the respondent was appointed as Scientist – H in NTRO as a direct recruit, on probation and her probation period was not completed. Before her probation period was completed/over, she was relieved”, the Court noted.
The Court also said that the directions that were issued by the High Court were self-contradictory.
ASG Aishwarya Bhati appeared on behalf of the NTRO while Senior Advocate Gopal Sankaranarayanan appeared for the employee.
The respondent i.e., the employee holding the post of Scientist ‘G’ applied for the post of Scientist ‘H’ in NTRO through her parent department i.e., DRDO. Consequent to the Appointments Committee of Cabinet (ACC) approval for appointment in NTRO as Scientist ‘H’, the employee was issued an offer of appointment on the terms and conditions mentioned in the offer of appointment including probation for a period of one year. On being selected and appointed as Scientist ‘H’ in NTRO on direct recruitment basis, the respondent tendered her technical resignation from the post of Scientist ‘G’ in DRDO, which came to be accepted and DRDO relieved her to take up the new appointment in NTRO.
While she was on probation as Scientist ‘H’ in NTRO, the ACC granted approval for her premature repatriation from the said post to her parent department cadre i.e., DRDO with immediate effect. Thereafter, she filed an application before CAT challenging the NTRO order by which she was directed to report to CIAR, DRDO to join duty and sought direction to accept her VRS application but the same got dismissed. However, the High Court allowed her appeal and hence, the NTRO challenged this before the Apex Court.
The Supreme Court in view of the facts and circumstances of the case noted, “… it can be seen that on and from 13.02.2019, the respondent can be said to be the employee of DRDO and in any case, she cannot be said to have been continued in NTRO and/or on and from 13.02.2019, she cannot be treated to be an employee of the NTRO.”
The Court observed that the High Court committed a very serious error in holding that the respondent was entitled to all the consequential benefits including the benefit of the past services that she rendered in DRDO for computing her terminal benefits.
“We fail to appreciate under which provision, has the High Court issued such a direction that she shall be entitled to all consequential benefits including the benefit of past services that she had rendered in DRDO for computing her terminal benefits directed to be paid by NTRO”, said the Court.
The Court further held the judgment and order passed by the High Court to be unsustainable and said that the same deserves to be quashed and set aside.
“… to do complete justice, we direct that if the original writ petitioner – respondent herein so wishes, she may press the prayer to accept her VRS application, which may be considered by the DRDO. If she presses her VRS application to voluntary retire her, the same may be considered positively. However, the same shall be done by the DRDO on the post of Scientist – G so that the respondent can get all other benefits, which may be available to her on accepting her voluntary retirement application, as otherwise also, she continued to have a lien on the post of Scientist – G in DRDO”, the Court also directed.
The Court, therefore, restored the judgment and order passed by the CAT.
Accordingly, the Court allowed the appeal and quashed and set aside the judgment of the High Court.
Cause Title- National Technical Research Organization & Others v. Dipti Deodhare