Pay pensionary benefits to retired SRTC employees in 4 months: HC to Govt

The maiden DDC elections to 280 constituencies spread over 20 districts - 10 each in Kashmir and Jammu divisions - were held in November-December last year. Photo: Mubashir Khan/ GK

Observing that pension was not an exgratia payment but a payment for the past service rendered, J&K High Court Wednesday directed the Finance department to consider within four months the request of 389 retired employees of Jammu and Kashmir State Road Transport Corporation (SRTC) with regard to their pensionry befits.

Allowing a writ petition by 389 retired employees of the corporation, a bench of Justice Ali Muhammad Magrey said: “It (pension) is a social welfare measure rendering socio-economic justice to those who in the heyday of their life ceaselessly toiled for employers with a legitimate expectation that in their ripe old age they won’t be left in lurch.”  

Pointing out that the Board of Directors of the corporation had already taken a decision and referred the matter to the Finance department, the court directed the Commissioner Secretary Finance department, Commissioner Secretary Transport department as well as Transport Commissioner to consider a communication by the Managing Director of the corporation within a period of four months.     

“In consequence thereof, the petitioners should be paid the arrears of necessary dues as may be payable to them from the date of their retirement,” the court said.

The court held the petitioners entitled to all the retirement benefits, including pension and gratuity on the analogy of the employees of the corporation who were employees of the erstwhile Government Transport Undertaking (GTU) and had opted for the service of the corporation and also on the analogy of their counterparts in the JKI and other corporations.

The court said, once a decision was taken by the high ranking officers collectively constituting the Board of Directors – a statutory body – and was referred for further action, it ought not to have taken so long a time at the level of the Finance department for implementing the decision of the corporation.   

The court held that the Board of Directors of the corporation had decided that the matter be taken up with the Finance department through the Administrative Department and consequent upon which the Managing Director of the corporation had duly taken the follow up action by addressing a letter dated 15 June 2020 to the Commissioner Secretary Transport department.

“The corporation in terms of the powers vested in it under the relevant provisions of the act and the service regulations has thus taken the decision of granting retirement benefits in favour of the petitioners at par with the employees of other corporations,” it said.  

Underling that the decision of the Board of Directors of the corporation to take up the matter with the Finance department and the communication of the Managing Director of the J&K SRTC clearly stating that the employees of JKSRTC were similarly situated with their counterparts working in JKI and J&K Handloom Development Corporation, the court said there was legally no justification in not granting such benefit to the petitioners.

The court also quashed a communication dated 29 October 2016 issued by General Managing, SRTC (Administration) after observing that it was rendered inconsequential.

The communication had denied pensionary benefits to the petitioners.

The Association of Employees of the JKSRTC on behalf of its 389 members through advocate Momin Khan had petitioned the court seeking a direction to treat them as government employees and pay them retirement benefits, including gratuity and pension as extended to such employees who were earlier working in the erstwhile Government Transport Undertaking.

The petitioners were mostly sweepers, helpers, cleaners, bus washers, assistant fitters, fitters, conductors and drivers.