The length of time a person contributes to a pension plan in which they are registered is referred to as pensionable service. The length of time a person registered in a pension plan contributes to that plan throughout their employment is referred to as pensionable service. The High Court Of Gauhati upheld this through a single learned bench MR. JUSTICE ACHINTYA MALLA BUJOR BARUA in DIPALI GOGOI BORGOHAIN V. THE STATE OF ASSAM AND 4 ORS (WP(C)/324/2022).
Facts of the case – The petitioner’s spouse, Bikash Borgohain, was temporarily employed as an Assistant Teacher under the pay grade of Rs. 3130-60-3490-90-4030-EB-4430-120-5200-175-6600/- per month. By a subsequent ruling dated 31.03.2003, the petitioner’s spouse was incorporated into an existing position of Assistant Teacher at the Kalakata M.E. School. On June 15, 2009, the petitioner’s husband died in the line of duty. Following her husband’s death, the petitioner was paid Rs.30,000/- towards the Group Insurance scheme he had registered to throughout his work tenure. We find no reason why the Headmaster of Kalakata M.E. School took nearly eight years to give the no liability certificate and the last pay certificate of the petitioner’s husband after the teacher in question died on June 15, 2009. So because the employee had died in the interim, the parties could not conclude that the extra amount was given to him due to fraudulent conduct on the part of the petitioner’s late husband. The petitioner filed a representation with the Commissioner & Secretary to the Government of Assam in the Elementary Education Department on December 6, 2021, requesting five months and ten days, which fell short of the qualifying period of ten years of service for pension, be excused.
After reviewing the evidence, The Learned Judge states that the Governor has the authority under Rule 67 of the Assam Services (Pension) Rules 1969 to excuse a shortfall of not more than 12 months in an officer’s qualifying service for pension. Since the petitioner’s deceased husband fell short of completing ten years of qualifying service by five months ten days, the Learned Judge orders the petitioner to file a representation with the Principal Secretary, Pension and Public Grievance Department of the Government of Assam, who will decide on the facts and circumstances whether the period of 5 months 10 days or any other period less than 12 months should be condoned.
The Learned Judge also provides that, while the petitioner’s husband may have been appointed temporarily in 1999, the Principal Secretary shall investigate the circumstances and procedure used for such temporary engagement, and if it is found that the appointment was made in accordance with the law by following the proposition laid down by the Hon’ble Supreme Court, the entire period of service of the petitioner shall be forfeited. The petitioner will be notified of any reasoned order issued by the Principal Secretary by receiving a copy of the order. As previously stated, the writ petition is granted.
Reviewed by Rangasree.