06 May 2121

Every classification made by the Government must stand the test of Article 14 of the Constitution of India - Bombay High Court

Case : Raghavendra Anantrai Mehta v. State of Maharashtra and Ors. Writ Petition No. 432 of 2020

Court : Bombay High Court

Bench : Justice V. G. Bisht and Justice R. D. Dhanuka

Decided on : 06 May 2121

Relevant Statues

Articles 14, 226 of the Constitution of India, 1950

Brief Facts & Procedure History

1. The petitioner was retired as a District and Sessions Judge, Selection Grade, Satara on 30.9.1991 on attaining the age of superannuation and is governed by the Maharashtra Civil Services (Pension) Rules, 1982. He contends that the State of Maharashtra issued a Government Resolution dated 5.1.2011 by which the recommendations of the Padmanabhan Committee were accepted. The said Government Resolution gives effect to the recommendations of Padmanabhan Committee regarding the pension payable to the Judicial Officers in the State. By further Government Resolution dated 25.7.2011, the benefits of the Government Resolution dated 5.1.2011 were also extended to the Judicial Officers who retired prior to 1.1.2006.

2. It is the case of the petitioner that the Andhra Pradesh Retired Judges Association was being aggrieved by certain recommendations of the Padmanabhan Committee Report filed I.A. (No.5 of 2009) in Writ Petition No.1022 of 1989 in the Honourable Supreme Court which was disposed of by an order dated 8.10.2012. The Honourable Supreme Court allowed the said I.A. (No.5 of 2009) preferred by said Judicial Officers who retired after 1.1.1996 but prior to 1.1.2006.

3. It is then contended that based on the order dated 8.10.2012, the present Respondent No.1, the State of Maharashtra by its Government Resolution No. HCT-2015/PRA/KRA 77/KA.TEEN dated 10.5.2016 has raised the pension by 3.07 times. However, this increase/revision of the pension was given only to those pensioners who retired after 1.1.1996.

4. According to the petitioner, as he retired prior to 1.1.1996, he is aggrieved by the said cut-off date specified in the Government Resolution since it has now created two classes of pensioners i.e. pre-1996 and post-1996 for the purpose of revision of pension. Despite making representations, no action has been taken by the respondents.

5. Therefore, the petitioner by way of a present writ petition under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, 1950 impugns Government Resolution No.HCT-2015/PRA/KRA 77/KA.TEEN dated 10.5.2016 being discriminatory to the effect that it does not include those pensioners who retired pre-1996 and thus is in violation of Article 14 of the Constitution of India, 1950 and further seeks direction to Respondent No.1 State to pay increased/revised pension as per the Government Resolution No.HCT-2015/PRA/KRA 77/KA.TEEN dated 10.5.2016 uniformly to the petitioner irrespective of any cut-off date.

The Issue(s) of the Case

Whether the Government Resolution No.HCT-2015/PRA/KRA 77/KA.TEEN dated 10.5.2016 is in violation to Article 14 of the Constitution of India, 1950?

The Observations of the Court

The Honourable Bombay High Court observed the following:

1. Critically analyzed Article 14 of the Constitution of India, 1950 by referring to various precedents such as D.S. Nakara and Others v. Union of India, (1983) 1 SCC 305; All Manipur Pensioners Association v. The State of Manipur and Others, AIR 2019 Supreme Court 3338; Etc.

2. Contemplated the fundamental principle of Article 14 of the Constitution of India, 1950 i.e. forbids class legislation but permits reasonable classification for the purpose of legislation on which the classification must satisfy the twin tests of classification being founded on intelligible differentia and that differentia must have a rational nexus to the object sought to be achieved by the statute in question.

3. Took cognizance of the fact that no rational principle was outlined and explained by the Respondent State in order to satisfy such an absurd classification. The Court did not find any reason and rationale on record subjecting the petitioner and alike to differential and discriminating treatment.

4. Observed that the Respondent State has simply misinterpreted and misunderstood the order passed by the Honourable Supreme Court in IA No.5 of 2009.

5. Concurred with the submission of the learned counsel for the petitioner pointing out that the Honourable Supreme Court in IA No.5 of 2009 was dealing with the percentage of revised pension of the pensioners and the issue of increase of pension by 3.07 times of pensioners retired prior to 1996 was never decided by the Honourable Supreme Court.

6. Based on the above observations, the Court opined that the division of two classes of pensioners was arbitrary and unprincipled. Hence, the classification does not stand the test of Article 14 of the Constitution of India, 1950.

The Decision held by the Court

1. The Honourable Bombay High Court declared that Government Resolution No.HCT-2015/PRA/KRA 77/KA.TEEN dated 10.5.2016 is discriminatory to the effect that it does not include those pensioners who retired pre-1996 and thus is in violation of Article 14 of the Constitution of India, 1950.

2. The Honourable Bombay High Court directed Respondent No.1 State to pay the increased/revised pension to the petitioner and other Retired Judicial Officers placed in a similar situation as per Government Resolution No.HCT-2015/PRA/KRA 77/KA.TEEN dated 10.5.2016.

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