Employees of Autonomous Bodies are not entitled to the pensionary benefits: SC
Appeal against the impugned common judgment and order dated 20.07.2018 passed by the Bombay High Court wherein the state government has been directed to extend the pensionary benefits to the employees of Water and Land Management Institute, the State of Maharashtra and another have preferred the present appeals. The State preferred review applications which came to be dismissed.
- That Water and Land Management Institute (“WALMI”) is an autonomous institution governed by its own Rules and Regulations. WALMI came into existence in the year 1980 under the World Bank Project of the Irrigation Department. The funds and properties of the Society and their entire management vests in the Governing Council.
- Grant of pensionary benefits to the employees of the Grantin-aid Institutes/Corporation etc. came to be discussed in the meeting of the Cabinet Ministers held on 30.01.1997. After due deliberation, the Cabinet approved the proposal to the effect that no pensionary benefits should be granted to the employees working in the Institute receiving Grant-in-aid, Corporations etc.
- But thereafter, the Governing Council of WALMI in its 44th meeting held on 13.08.1997 resolved to send proposal to the Government to grant pensionary benefits to the employees of WALMI.
- The then Director General of WALMI issued a communication dated 12.10.2000 to the Secretary, Irrigation Department and gave his opinion in affirmative for grant of pensionary benefits to the employees of WALMI. But the Government of Maharashtra through its Finance Department issued a resolution dated 31.10.2005 and introduced a new Contributory Pension Scheme for the Government servants who are recruited on or after 01.11.2005 in the State Government service.
- On 08.11.2005, the State Government through its Finance Department issued another resolution and resolved that the employees serving in Grant-in-aid Institutes, Mandals, Corporations etc. are not entitled for grant of pensionary benefits and the Pension Rules shall not be made applicable to them.
WALMI is an independent autonomous entity governed by their own Rules and Regulations and the administration and management of WALMI is being run through/by its Governing Council. Even the State is not the Disciplinary Authority of the employees of WALMI. That in the G.R. dated 17.03.2006, it is stated that in WALMI 170 posts are created on temporary establishment. However, it may be true that posts created in the WALMI are included in the total sanctioned number of posts in the Water Resources Department. However, in the said G.R. it is specifically observed that WALMI is an autonomous institution of the Government and 214 posts are sanctioned on fixed temporary establishment and 168 posts on converted temporary establishment.
The employees of the autonomous bodies cannot claim, as a matter of right, the same service benefits on par with the Government employees. Merely because such autonomous bodies might have adopted the Government Service Rules and/or in the Governing Council there may be a representative of the Government and/or merely because such institution is funded by the State/Central Government, employees of such autonomous bodies cannot, as a matter of right, claim parity with the State/Central Government employees. This is more particularly, when the employees of such autonomous bodies are governed by their own Service Rules and service conditions. The State Government and the Autonomous Board/Body cannot be put on par.
Hon’ble Supreme Court held that WALMI might have certain funds does not mean that for all times to come, it can bear such burden of paying pension to all its employees. In any case, it is ultimately for the State Government and the Society (WALMI) to take their own policy decision whether to extend the pensionary benefits to its employees or not. The interference by the Judiciary in such a policy decision having financial implications and/or having a cascading effect is not at all warranted and justified.
Therefore, the impugned common judgment and order passed by the High Court directing the State to extend the pensionary benefits to the employees of WALMI is unsustainable, both in law and on facts. The employees of WALMI, which is an independent autonomous body registered under the Societies Act are not entitled to the pensionary benefits.
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