KOCHI: The Kerala High Court has observed that financial constraints of the KSRTC is not a valid ground to deny or delay the payment of pension to the employees since it is a deferred payment earned by them for rendering long and satisfactory service. The court also asked the state government and the KSRTC to file an affidavit explaining the steps taken in the matter of financial restructuring of the KSRTC, based on the interim report of Sushil Khanna, to ensure timely payment of monthly pension to its retired employees.
The order cited a Supreme Court verdict which clarifies that pension is not a charity or bounty, nor is it gratuitous payment solely dependent on the whim or sweet will of the employer. “Pension is a security measure, consistent with the socio-economic requirements, providing safeguards to the employees in their later years of life, who have shed their sweat and blood for the employer during their long service. Pension cannot be denied or delayed arbitrarily,” the court observed.The court issued the order on a petition filed by KSRTC Pensioners Organisation general secretary P A Mohammed Ashraf seeking to disburse the monthly pension with arrears till December 2017 to the pensioners.
The KSRTC submitted that, on account of financial constraints, the corporation could not effect payment of monthly pension in time. While the state government informed that though it had no direct liability in the matter of payment of pension to the retired employees of the KSRTC, the state provided maximum support to the corporation during the crisis.The government appointed Professor Sushil Khanna as a consultant to study how the corporation could be restructured by addressing the issues pertaining to its management of operations, finances, human resources and inventory management, among others.
The government submitted that, based on the interim report of Sushil Khanna, the government approved sanction for funding from the Kerala Infrastructure Investment Fund Board (KIIFB) to the tune of Rs 324 crore for procurement of 900 buses to the KSRTC.
A division bench of the court had directed the corporation to earmark 10 per cent of its daily collection for disbursement of retirement benefits and keep it in a separate treasury account. Therefore, it was for the KSRTC to explore the possibility of earmarking a specified percentage of its daily collection, for timely payment of monthly pension to its retired employees, which shall also be kept in a separate account. To which the KSRTC sought more time to file an affidavit in this regard.