No provision under the Payment of Gratuity Act of 1972 empowers the Certificate Officer to express any reservation: Calcutta High Court

The authority of the Certificate Officer, in this case, was confined to the recovery of gratuity in the execution of the certificate and nothing more. Such an opinion was held by The Hon’ble High Court of Calcutta before The Hon’ble Justice Suvra Ghosh in the matter of Santosh Pathak Vs. The State of West Bengal & Ors. [W.P.A. 12010 of 2021]. 

The facts of the case were associated with the petitioner who was deprived of payment of gratuity to which he was entitled on superannuation. The petitioner was employed under respondent no.5 and was entitled to receive a gratuity amount in accordance with section 7(3) of the Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972. No gratuity was paid which led to the filing of such a petition. It was contended by the petitioner that the Certificate officer pointed out the defects in the requisition and sent back the same to the Controlling Authority for rectification instead of taking steps for recovery of the amount. Afterwards, it was reported that the requisition was rejected. The rejection caused grievance to the petitioner leading him to pray for issuance of a Mandamus Writ. It was submitted that it was not in the jurisdiction of the Certificate Officer to question the legality or validity of the certificate issued by the Controlling Authority. 

The counsel representing the respondents contended that the issuance of the certificate by the Competent Authority, the Bengal Public Demands Recovery Act, 1913 comes into play as there was no provision to execute the certificate in the Act of 1972. The counsel also stated that the Certificate Officer does not act as a mere post office and had the discretion to satisfy himself regarding the recovery of the demand in question. It was submitted that it was governed by the Payment of Gratuity Act, 1972 and the Controlling Authority, in the exercise of its jurisdiction under the said Act, dealt with the application filed by the petitioner on merit and disposed of the same by a speaking order which remained unchallenged till date. 

The Hon’ble Court ruled out that “… In view of the above observations, the order passed by the Certificate Officer (respondent no. 4) on 21-08-2019 and 21-10-2019 are quashed/set aside… Respondent no. 4 is directed to execute the certificate sent to him by a requisition dated 02-04-2019 and recover the gratuity decided by the Controlling Authority along with simple interest and compound interest thereon from respondent no. 5 within a period of four weeks from the date of communication of this judgment… W.P.A. 12010 of 2021 is allowed accordingly.”

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Judgment reviewed by Bipasha Kundu

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