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A service related claim presented 35 years after the applicant left the organisation cannot at all be entertained: High Court of Delhi

Where a service related claim is based on a continuing wrong, relief can be granted even if there is a long delay in seeking remedy, with reference to the date on which the continuing wrong commenced, if such continuing wrong creates a continuing source of injury. This was held in the case of Naseem Ahmed v. The Ministry of Defence and Ors, [CM APPLs. 3354-55/2021] by Hon’ble Justice Asha Menon in the High Court of Delhi.

Petitioners filed a  writ petition challenging an order passed by the Principal Bench of the Central Administrative Tribunal seeking directions to the respondents to grant the terminal benefits such as monthly pension, gratuity and leave encashment payable to the petitioner on pro-rata basis with the arrears thereof along with interest. The judgment of the CAT noted that if the applicant wan entitled to receive pension from the MoD, he ought to have pursued the matter as soon as it became due. He was in service of GAIL for about ten years. Even during that time, the issue was required to be settled. He retired from service in 1996. 25 years thereafter, he started claiming pension from the MoD. Viewed from any angle, the claim cannot be considered at this stage. The only reason furnished by the applicant for condonation of such a long delay is that he was posted outside Delhi. Even if that is true, nothing prevented him from pursuing the remedy over the past 35 years.

Petitioners also placed reliance on the judgment of S.R. Bhanrale Vs. Union of India & Ors. (1996) 10 SCC 172 and submitted that the order of the Tribunal is contrary to the view taken by the Supreme Court in this case where it was held that it is improper to plead the bar of limitation against such claims of the employees when the Union itself had defaulted in making the payments promptly when the same fell due.

The Respondents submitted that the petitioner was not a regular employee of the Ministry of Defence and if the petitioner has to claim any relief, it should be from All India Radio and not from Ministry of Defence.  The Court observed that “It is settled law that where a service related claim is based on a continuing wrong, relief can be granted even if thereis a long delay in seeking remedy, with reference to the date on which the continuing wrong commenced, if such continuing wrong creates a continuing source of injury. However, in such a case the consequential relief of recovery of arrears, the Courts/Tribunals will restrict the same for a period of three years prior to the filing of a petition. (See: Union of India & Ors. v. Tarsem Singh, (2008) 8 SCC 648)”. The petition was dismissed on the sole ground of limitation and laches.

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