The Orissa High Court has ordered that the salary of Odisha Finance and Law Secretaries be withheld if the pension of a person, who retired from service 22 years ago, is not regularised by next week.
A division bench comprising Justice S. Panda and Justice S.K. Panigrahi took the stringent view after noting that the pension had not been regularised despite the HC order to do so a year ago.
Mithuram Bhoi (80), who was a work-charged employee in the Hirakud Dam Project, had retired on June 30, 1998. As he was not paid the pension benefit, he had moved the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT) to get his dues. The SAT had ordered payment of basic minimum pension after regularising his service in 2015.
The Department of Irrigation had moved the High Court against the SAT’s order. The Orissa HC had, however, upheld the SAT order in December 2019.
A division bench comprising then Chief Justice K.S. Jhaveri and Justice K.R. Mohapatra had directed the government to regularise the services of Mr. Bhoi against any sanctioned post and grant minimum scale of pay, pension and other retirement benefits taking into consideration the period during which he discharged his service as a work-charged employee.
The HC had then directed payment of actual pension from February 1, 2020 and arrears. It even made it clear that if the amount was not paid, the employee should be paid 9% interest from the date of his entitlement.
As the government failed to carry out the HC order, Mr. Bhoi filed a contempt of court case.
The HC bench comprising Justice Panda and Justice Panigrahi said: “Since the court has passed an order on December 12, 2019 and in the meantime, one year has elapsed and for non-compliance of the order, contempt application has been filed, copy of the same has been served on the State government and direction has also been given for instruction in the matter, but till date the opposite parties have not considered the matter and sought for further time for compliance.
“We direct that if the 2019 order is not complied with by the next date, the salary for December, 2020 of the Law Secretary and the Finance Secretary of the Odisha government will be held up,” said the bench. The next date of hearing is scheduled on December 21.