Retired employee receiving pension can file a case at a place where he resides: Supreme Court
The Supreme Court in a significant judgement stated that a retired employee who is receiving pension cannot be asked to go to another court to file a case when he has a cause of action at the place where he resides.
The Court was hearing challenge to a judgement pronounced by Patna High Court.
The case is in relation to the pension entitlement of one B N Mishra, who was working with Coal India Limited till 2005. He was drawing pension for nearly 8 years after which Coal India Ltd. stopped his pension in 2013 stating that he had not opted for the Family Coal Mines Pension Scheme of 1998. He was also asked to refund an amount to the tune of eight lakh rupees which was drawn by him as pension.
He challenged the stoppage of pension and the demand for refund, at the Patna High Court in 2014. The High Court dismissed the writ petition on the ground of lack of territorial jurisdiction and stated that he could file the petition either in West Bengal (where the pension authority was located) or Jharkhand.
He then approached the High Court of Jharkhand, within whose jurisdiction his pension authority was situated. Pointing out this aspect, the High Court dismissed the writ petition filed in 2014 observing that he had submitted himself to the jurisdiction of Jharkhand High Court.
During the pendency of the proceedings, B N Mishra died and his widow was substituted as the petitioner.
The Supreme Court bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan, R. Subhash Reddy and M.R. Shah observed that a retired employee, who is receiving pension, cannot be asked to go to another court to file the writ petition, when he has a cause of action for filing a writ petition in Patna High Court. For a retired employee convenience is to prosecute his case at the place where he belonged to and was getting pension.
The Court noted that the pensioner was residing at Darbhanga, Bihar, after his retirement and received pension there for over eight years. The Court further noted that as per Article 226(2) of the Constitution, if a part of the cause of action arises at a place, writ petition can be maintained there.
The Apex Court thus allowed the appeal and revived the writ petition before the Patna High Court.
The Supreme Court also took note of the fact that the petitioner before the Court was the widow of the original petitioner who is now without the support of family pension. Therefore, the Supreme Court ordered the grant of provisional pension to her, which will be subject to final decision in the writ petition.