The Supreme Court today adjourned a Suo Motu matter related to retired employees of the High Court of Bombay at Goa, who have allegedly been receiving a meagre amount of pension since their retirement. The matter has been adjourned for two weeks after the Court was apprised by the State of Goa that 19 out of 21 persons have been paid and that the rules governing the payment of the pension will be notified soon.

The Bench of Chief Justice DY Chandrachud and Justice J.B. Pardiwala noted that the Department of Law and Judiciary of the Government of Goa passed an order on April 27, 2023, by which sanction has been accorded for the settlement and authorization of pension and pensionary benefits for retired employees of the High Court at Goa.

The Court further noted that as per the chart of arrears placed before them by the Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Madhvi Diwan appearing for the State of Goa, 19 employees out of 21 have been paid. The chart further highlighted that one formed employee did not opt for the same and that the legal heirs of other dead employees are being traced.

Advocate-on-record Mahfooz Nazki who was appointed as Amicus Curiae submitted that after the Supreme Court issued notice, the State paid the amounts. He further added that this amount is only interim and that the final amount could only be determined after the said rules are notified. Mahfooz requested the Court to keep the matter pending. "Order dated 27.04.2023 does not appear to be final since the final amount will only be determined once the Draft Rules are finalized." submitted Mahfooz.

ASG Diwan submitted that the rules are yet to be finalized and that the High Court of Bombay at Goa has already forwarded the rules to the State of Goa and that sanction is awaited. She further stated that it is based on the Central Civil Service (Pension) Rules, 1972 and that the draft will take a little time.

The Chief Justice expressed his displeasure and asked, "Why are they taking so much time?" and added that "We issued notice on April 17th and everything seems to fall in place. Now 19 people have been paid".

The Apex Court adjourned the matter for two weeks for the State to come back on the finalization of the rules. The Court also added that this process should be completed at the earliest and that the Court will keep the matter pending to keep the pressure on.

A communication dated March 15, 2023, was addressed to the Chief Justice of India by the former employees of the Bombay High Court Bench at Goa highlighting their grievances regarding the pension benefits, based on which the Supreme Court registered the case Suo Motu.

The communication addressed by the former employees of the High Court at Goa stated that "they are only in receipt of provisional pension and, despite the lapse of between three and seven years pursuant to their retirement, they have not received a commutation of pension or other benefits till date."

In the previous hearing, it was brought before the Court that an earlier communication of February 9, 2021, was addressed to the Chief Justice of India in which a report was called from the High Court. Further, it was noted that a former employee was constrained to commit suicide as a result of the mental stress occasioned by non-payment of pensionary and retiral benefits.

Considering the submissions made, the Chief Justice-led bench issued notice and directed that urgent action is required to be taken by the States of Maharashtra and Goa in conjunction with the Chief Justice of the Bombay High Court for rectifying the grievance at the earliest. The Court appointed Advocate-on-record Mahfooz Nazki as Amicus Curiae through the Supreme Court Legal Services Committee.

Cause Title: Re Pension Benefits For Employees Retd. From High Court of Bombay at Goa by Courts Motion v. State of Goa [W.P.(C) No. 464/2023]