Rashid Paul

RTC employees engaged between 1976 to 1986 entitled to all retirement benefits: HC

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Srinagar: In a significant judgment, the J&K High Court on Wednesday held that all the employees of the J&K Road Transport Corporation (RTC) engaged between 1976 to 1986 are entitled to every retirement benefit, including pension and gratuity.

A petition was filed by 389 members of the Corporation whom the authorities were depriving of pensionary/retirment benefits as given to their colleagues who had earlier been working in the erstwhile Government Transport Undertaking (GTU).

RTC was established on 01.09.1976 through an Act by conversion of the erstwhile GTU in to a Corporation. The employees of the GTU, originally government employees, were taken on deputation in the Corporation.

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

Allowing the petition, Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey directed that the petitioners shall also be paid the arrears of necessary dues as may be payable to them from the date of their retirement.

It is mentionable that during the pendency of the writ petition, the High Court had in 2016 passed an interim direction asking the respondents to consider the petitioners’ pending representation for post-retirement benefits.

But the concerned “unkind” administrators of the Corporation rejected it vide order no. JKSRTC/Pen/II/1157 dated 29.10.2016.

The court in the first place quashed the order issued by the then General Manager (Admn), JKSRTC, saying “the petitioners are entitled to all the retiral benefits, including pension, gratuity, etc., at par and on the analogy of the section of the employees of the Corporation who were employees of the erstwhile GTU and had opted for the service of the Corporation, and also on the analogy of their counter parts in the JK Industries and other Corporations”.

The Board of Directors of the Corporation had taken a decision in favor of the petitioners in 2020. It has referred the matter through the incumbent Managing Director of the Corporation to the Finance Department to consider paying retirement benefits to the aggrieved employees.

Justice Magray held that as the matter is admittedly under consideration with the government “the court would wish to add only one thing here which is that Section 5(1) of the Act provides that the general superintendence, direction and management of the affairs and business of a Corporation shall vest in a Board of Directors”.

“Once a decision is taken by the high ranking officers collectively constituting the Board of Directors – a statutory body – and is referred by such forum to one of them for further action, it ought not take so long a time at the level of the Finance Department for implementing the decision of the Corporation”, he directed.

He asked the concerned department to decide the matter within four months from the date a copy of this judgment is served.

The judge observed that pension is not an ex-gratia payment but it is a payment for the past service rendered by him. It is a social welfare measure rendering socio-economic justice to those who in the hey day of their life ceaselessly toiled for employers with a legitimate expectation that in their ripe old age they would not be left in the lurch.

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