Do’s 10 years of practice is necessary for calculating the pension in addition to qualifying service of the applicant as Member Judicial of the Railway Claims Tribunal for pension and also the same was held in the judgement passed by a single bench judge comprising HON’BLE SRI JUSTICE V. KAMESWAR RAO, in the matter, AJIT KUMAR PANDA V. UNION OF INDIA [W.P.(C) 1201/2021], dealt with an issue mentioned above.
The petitioner was enrolled as an Advocate with the Bar Council of Delhi on April 24, 1990. He also cleared the exam for Advocates on Record and was duly enrolled as such on October 15, 1998. On April 20, 2015, the petitioner was appointed to the post of Member (Judicial) Kolkata Bench of Railway Claims Tribunal (‘RCT’, for short), Later on, June 10, 2019, he was transferred to the Gauhati Bench of the RCT where he worked till W.P.(C) 1201/2021 Page 3 of 16 he completed his five years’ tenure on April 21, 2020.
He mentioned that in terms of Section 5 of the Railway Claims Tribunal Act, 1987, which stipulates qualifications for appointment as Chairman, Vice-Chairman and other Members; a person shall not be qualified for appointment as a Member unless he is qualified to be a Judge of a High Court, He stated that since the issue of gratuity is pending before the Supreme Court, he is not making a prayer concerning the said claim.
The claim in this petition is primarily concerning the counting of 10 years of practice as an Advocate to calculate pension in addition to qualifying service of the petitioner as Member (Judicial) of the RCT, for pension. And also mentioned few supporting cases on his behalf that is – Union of India and Anr. v. Shankar Raju, LPA 286/2019, and also of Supreme Court in Government of NCT of Delhi and Ors. v. All India Young Lawyers Association (Registered) and Anr., (2009) 14 SCC 49.
He also stated that, at the time of relinquishment of Charge, he requested the Hon’ble Chairman of the RCT, Principal Bench on April 20, 2020, praying for two reliefs; firstly his entitlement of gratuity under the provisions of the Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972 and calculation of pension after taking into account 10 years of practice at the Bar, because of the aforesaid judgments.
Mr Jagjit Singh learned counsel for the respondents would submit that the petitioner was appointed as Member (Judicial) in RCT as per provisions of the Act of 1987 and as such, his appointment was governed by the Rules of 1989. Paragraph 3 of the appointment letter dated April 20, 2015, issued by the Ministry of Railways to the petitioner mentions that the service conditions including pension as Member (Judicial) in RCT shall be governed by the terms and conditions of his appointment, And also mentioned that Section 8 of the Rules of 1989 stipulates that every person appointed to the Tribunal as W.P.(C) 1201/2021 Page 7 of 16 Chairman, Vice-Chairman or member, shall be entitled to a pension.
Insofar as the claim of the petitioner for counting of 10 years of practice as an Advocate for calculation of pension in RCT by relying upon the judgment of this Court in Shankar Raju (supra) and also of Supreme Court in All India Young Lawyers Association (supra) is concerned. Insofar as the Tribunal Rules of 2020 framed by the Central Government are concerned, there is no provision of pension for Members of any Tribunal in India.
Later it was clear that the Supreme Court while upholding the grant of benefit for counting the period of practice put in at the Bar by an Advocate has directed that 10 years of practice be given to a direct recruitee, who joins the service and has worked minimum for 10 years in the service before retiring.
The court perused the facts and argument’s presented, it thought that- “It is an admitted case of the petitioner that he was appointed before February 12, 2020. If that be so, the terms and conditions of appointment of the petitioner as Member (Judicial) RCT shall necessarily be governed under the Rules of 1989 which have been implemented in his favour. Because of my above discussion, the petitioner is not entitled to any relief. The petition is dismissed”.
Judgment Reviewed by: Mandira BS