Deceased Didn't Opt For Pension Scheme: SC Holds That Family Of The Deceased-Employee Is Not Entitled To Pension
A Supreme Court Bench of Justice Dhananjaya Y Chandrachud and Justice Hima Kohli has upheld the Order passed by the Division Bench of the Madhya Pradesh High Court holding the family of a deceased employee not entitled to receive pension.
The Court observed that "We therefore hold that the deceased husband of the appellant was not a regular employee of the respondent No.1 – Housing Board. He had remained a work charged employee in the establishment of the Housing Board till the date of his demise. Even while serving in the said capacity, the appellant's deceased husband could have opted for pension under the NPS that was made available to the work charged employees of the respondent No.1 – Housing Board in terms of the order dated 02nd July, 2015. But he did not opt for the said Scheme. The appellant is, therefore, not entitled to receive family pension from the respondent No. 1 – Housing Board."
Senior Advocate SK Gangele appeared for the Appellant, and Senior Advocate RC Mishra appeared for the M.P. Housing and Infrastructure Development Board (Respondent No. 1).
In this case, the husband of the Appellant was engaged by the Housing Board as a Muster Roll employee on daily wages. During the course of his work, he passed away.
Thereafter, the Appellant submitted applications to the Housing Board for the grant of family pension. However, this request was turned down, with an observation that there was no provision for the grant of pension/family pension to employees working in the work charged establishment.
The Appellant approached the High Court, and her petition was allowed. The Single Judge directed the Housing Board to fix the retiral dues and family pension payable to the Appellant in a time bound manner and release the arrears of family pension with interest.
Aggrieved, the Housing Board filed an appeal before the Division Bench, and it was held that as the deceased husband was a member of the work charged establishment, he could not be treated at par with the regular employees and hence was not entitled to pension.
The Appellant then approached the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court observed that the deceased husband was not a regular employee of the Housing Board, and he had remained a work charged employee until the date of his demise.
The Court noted that none of the existing State pension schemes were applicable to the deceased husband.
In that context, it was observed that "The respondent No.1 - Housing Board is a statutory and an autonomous body established under the Madhya Pradesh Housing & Infrastructure Development Board (Amendment) Act, 19724 for implementation of housing schemes meant for the weaker sections/lower income groups of society on a 'no profit no loss basis'. Being a statutory and an autonomous body, the Housing Board forms its own rules and policies that govern the service conditions of its employees. The rules laid down by the State Government for its employees are not automatically applicable to the employees of the Housing Board unless specifically adopted by the Board. The same is demonstrable from a perusal of Sections 14, 15 and 17 of the Housing Board Act (that deal with appointment of officers and servants of the Board; lay down conditions of service of officers and servants and empowers the Board to make service regulations in respect of 4 For short 'the Housing Board Act' its officers and servants) and on examining the M.P. Civil Services (Pension) Rules, 1976."
It was further observed that "Even while serving in the said capacity, the appellant's deceased husband could have opted for pension under the NPS that was made available to the work charged employees of the respondent No.1 – Housing Board in terms of the order dated 02nd July, 2015. But he did not opt for the said Scheme."
Therefore, the Apex Court held that the Appellant was not entitled to receive family pension from the Housing Board, and that it could not find any reason to interfere with the judgment of the Division Bench of the High Court.
Accordingly, the appeal was dismissed.
Cause Title: Sunita Burman v. The Commissioner, M.P. Housing And Infrastructure Development Board and Others