Bombay High Court gives relief to retired judges The HC held that the Government Resolution regarding the cut-off date for retired judges was a discriminatory and wrong interpretation of the Supreme Court ruling The Bombay High Court (HC) has set aside a 2016 Government Resolution (GR) of the Government of Maharashtra regarding hiked pension payable to judges who retired after January...
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Bombay High Court gives relief to retired judges
The HC held that the Government Resolution regarding the cut-off date for retired judges was a discriminatory and wrong interpretation of the Supreme Court ruling
The Bombay High Court (HC) has set aside a 2016 Government Resolution (GR) of the Government of Maharashtra regarding hiked pension payable to judges who retired after January 1996.
The HC bench of Justices RD Dhanuka and VG Bisht held that the GR was violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India since it discriminated against those who retired before the 1 January 1996 cut-off date.
The bench termed the GM as "absurd", "arbitrary and unprincipled".
"We are also unable to understand on what basis petitioner and others like him were left high and dry in as much as the same is neither discernible nor decipherable. No rational principle is outlined and explained by the respondent State to such an absurd classification," the HC observed, adding that the cut-off date failed to stand the reasonability test of Article 14.
The Court allowed the plea of the retired District and Sessions Judge of Satara Raghavendra Anantrai Mehta who had challenged the GR on the ground that it was arbitrary and violative of equality since it created two classes of pensioners.
Law and Judiciary Department of the State of Maharashtra opposed the plea contending that it was not a creation of the State since the GR was issued in compliance with the directions given by the Supreme Court in 2012 which benefited judicial officers who retired between January 1996 and January 2006.
The State of Maharashtra also argued that that the petitioner was indirectly seeking a modification of the Supreme Court order and such a prayer would not be maintainable.
The petitioner contended that the Supreme Court order was dealing with the percentage of revised pension of the pensioners and the issue of increase of pension by 3.07 times of pensioners who retired before 1996 was never decided by the Apex Court.
The State while implementing the Supreme Court decision, had on its own restricted the benefit of increase of pension to those retired post-1996 without any justifiable reason, it was argued.
The HC agreed with the petitioner's argument stating that there was no reason or rationale in subjecting Mehta and similarly placed pensioners to a differential and discriminating treatment. It also said that the State seemed to have misinterpreted the order of the Supreme Court.
"Petitioner and others placed in similar situation and those who retired on or after January 1, 1996 form only one homogenous class as a whole and therefore they all cannot be bifurcated or divided into two groups for the purpose of giving more financial benefits to one segment than the other," the Court said in its judgment delivered on 6 May 2021.
The HC directed the State to pay the revised pension to Mehta and other similarly placed retired judicial officers within a period of four months from the date of receipt of judgment.