New pension scheme cannot be applicable to judicial officers: Karnataka High Court
BENGALURU: The Karnataka High Court has held that the New Defined Contributory Pension Scheme (NDCPS), which was introduced for state government employees who joined service on or after April 1, 2006, cannot be made applicable to the judicial officers.
A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Mohammad Nawaz passed the order in its November 28 judgment on petitions filed by Vijaykumar Rai and several other judicial officers as well the Karnataka State Judicial Officers’ Association.
Meanwhile, the court said the judicial officers who had joined service on or after April 1, 2006, can opt, if they desire, for NDCPS by giving their consent in writing.
The court rejected the contentions of the state government that it had the right to make changes to the pension payable to the judicial officers as they are governed by rules framed under the Karnataka Civil Services Act, 1978.
The court said the salary and pension payable to judicial officers are governed by the recommendations of the Justice Jagannatha Shetty National Judicial Pay Commission and Justice Padmanabhan Pay Commission as these recommendations were accepted by the Supreme Court.
“Moreover, the pay/salary of the judicial officers has been determined by the apex court by accepting the recommendations made by two judicial pay commissions and by directing its implementation. The state government, without seeking permission of the apex court, has no power to tinker with the quantum of the salaries and pension payable to judicial officers,” the court observed.
“Looking from any angle, the act of the state government in applying the new pension scheme to judicial officers of the state appointed on or after April 1, 2006, and consequential act making 10% dedication from their salary, is not only completely against the recommendations of the two National Judicial Pay Commissions report but also is in breach and gross violation of the directions issued by the apex court, and hence the same is illegal,” the court said.
It pointed out that none of the state governments had opposed the recommendations of the Second National Judicial Pay Commission.
The NDCPS provided for employees’ contribution of 10% of the basic pay and dearness allowance (DA) with matching contribution from the state government.
The state government on March 29, 2010, issued notification extending NDCPS for the judicial officers who had joined service on or after April 1, 2006.
The judicial officers had filed petitions before the High Court in 2013 questioning applicability of NDCPS to them.
Refund The Amount
The bench directed the state government to call upon, within four weeks, the judicial officers appointed on or after April 1, 2006, to submit their option/consent for NDCPS on or before January 31, 2020. It also directed it to refund the amount already deducted from the salaries of judicial officers, on or before the end of February 2020.