Allahabad High Court: Retrospective Application of Amended Rule Denying Pension Violates Constitutional Rights

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Published on: January 25, 2024 at 11:49 IST

The Allahabad High Court has ruled that denying pension through the retrospective application of an amended rule constitutes a violation of constitutional rights under Articles 14 and 16 of the Indian Constitution.

The Court, comprising Justice Attau Rahman Masoodi and Justice Om Prakash Shukla, restored the pension of retired members of the State Electricity Regulatory Commission as per the unamended Uttar Pradesh Electricity Regulatory Commission (Appointment and Condition of Service of the Chairperson and Members) Rules, 2008.

Quoting the Court, “The denial of payment of pension to the petitioner as per the un-amended Rules, 2008, and the application of the National Pension Scheme to the petitioners on account of the retrospective application of Rule 15 of the Rules, 2008, as amended vide Rules, 2021 is absolutely arbitrary and also in violation of Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution of India as well as in violation of Section 89 (2) of the Act” (referring to Electricity Act, 2003).

The Court referred to the precedent set by the Supreme Court in Punjab State Cooperative Agriculture Development Bank v. Registrar Co-operative Societies, emphasizing that a retrospective amendment taking away an already available benefit violates the constitutional rights guaranteed under Articles 14 and 16.

The case involved a petitioner, Krishnaswamy, who moved from a non-pensionable job at the National Thermal Power Corporation to the position of a member of the Commission in 2013.

The petitioner was initially granted a pension in 2016. However, an amendment in 2021 mandated the application of the National Pension Scheme to members appointed on or after April 1, 2005. Subsequently, the petitioner’s pension was stopped, and a recovery of Rs.22,65,528/- was sought.

The Court held that the retrospective application of the amendment to Rule 15 in 2021 was to the detriment of the petitioners and, therefore, ultra vires Section 89 of the Electricity Act, 2003.

The judgment concluded that divesting an employee of a vested right guaranteed by the existing provisions of an Act is a violation of constitutional rights and directed the payment of the same pension to the petitioners as before the 2021 amendment.

The Court clarified that the judgment would only apply to the three petitioners and not serve as a precedent.

Case Title: Indu Bhushan Pandey v. State Of Up Thru Prin Secy Dept Of Energy And 2 Others [WRIT – A No. – 5813 of 2022]

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