//SC says pension benefits are like right to property

SC says pension benefits are like right to property

Sunday May 21 2006, UNI

NEW DELHI: In a landmark judgement, the Supreme Court has held that pension is not a bounty, but deferred salary, and is akin to the right to property.

A bench comprising Justice SB Sinha and Justice PP Naolekar, in a judgement dated May 12, while setting aside a Karnataka High Court ruling, has held that treating the government college teachers and government aided college teachers differently in the matter of pension benefits is violates the Constitution.

The High Court had held that teachers of government aided colleges and Karnataka Regional Engineering colleges should be treated at par with state government employees.

Petitioners UP Raghvendra Acharya and others had retired as lecturers from the government aided colleges and Karnataka Regional Engineering colleges between January 1996 and March 1998.

The revised pay scales to the college and university teachers as per recommendations of the tenth pay commission and approved by the University Grants Commission (UGC) were made applicable from January 1, 1996 and pension was to be fixed on the basis of the revised pay scales.

The state government in a notification in July 2000, fixed the pension for government college teachers with effect from this date, but said for aided college teachers it would be applicable from April 1, 1998.

This notification was challenged by way of writ petitions. A single judge of the high court quashed the notification, but the division bench set aside this order.

The apex court, while quashing the state government notifications as unconstitutional, observed: "Pension, as is well known, is not a bounty. It is treated to be a deferred salary. It is akin to right to property. It is co-related and has a nexus with the salary payable to the employees as on the date of retirement."

The Supreme Court directed that the petitioners were entitled to the pensionary benefits with effect from January 1, 1996 like teachers of government colleges as per revised UGC pay scales, saying the notification was discriminatory and violates the principle of "equal pay for equal work".

The court also allowed a cost of Rs 5,000 in each appeal.