Retd Principal got Pension after a long fight, now struggling for interest

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Retd Principal got Pension after a long fight, now struggling for interest

Udupi: In a Press Conference on February 13, Dr Ravindranath Shanbhog president of the Human Rights Protection Foundation, Udupi said that an 80-year-old senior citizen who has been struggling with the education department for the full payment of his rightful pension even after 21 years of retirement, has now approached the Human Rights Protection Foundation of Udupi to seek justice. Ignoring the verdict given by the Supreme Court in this case, the officials of the education department are trying to mislead the court by providing false affidavits.

The Background

Principal Raghupathi Bhat retired in 2002 after serving nearly 33 years at the government-aided Venkataramana PU College, Karkala. He had requested the college management three months before his retirement to send all the documents required for the sanction of his pension to the concerned department.

However, due to the negligence of the management board as well as the education department, the pension was never sanctioned for 15 years. Professor Bhat had to fight a long legal battle from the District Court to the Supreme Court of India.

Finally, based on the Supreme Court order, 177 months of pension arrears were paid to him on 17 October 2017 in one lump sum. But the department did not include the interest arrears of 15 years for the late payment. In a communication given by officials of the pension department, they added a note “We have given the pension arrears. However, for the payment of interest, you may please approach the government”.

Now the fight for interest

For almost two years, he wrote dozens of letters right from the director of the PUEBoard to the Secretary of the education department, but there was no response from anyone. Undeterred, Professor Bhat approached the High Court again in 2019. After 18 months of hearing, the Court ruled that 8 percent interest for the pension arrears has to be paid. It also imposed a deadline of four weeks for payment of interest. The government was also directed by the court to recover this amount from those responsible for the delay.

Contempt suit again

The High Court’s order to pay interest on the pension delay was not obeyed for the next 9 months. The officials did not reply to Bhat’s letter in this regard, so a contempt of court suit was filed. Now the government prosecutor who appeared in the court has asked for 3 weeks to get approval from the Ministry of Finance as the officials of various departments are working on this. The High Court permitted the same.

Since the three-week deadline given by the High Court has not been obeyed even after ten months, a “Memo” was submitted to the Court on 04 October 2022.

Now that the officials of the education department were convinced that the arrest order would come, the department calculated in its“own way” and deposited less than half of the amount due to Professor Bhat in his account. They also filed a false affidavit that the court order was obeyed.

Is it necessary to fight to the death?

When the government has announced a policy that the pension should be paid to the elderly following the month of retirement, shouldn’t the officials adhere to it? Firstly, Bhat delayed the payment of his pension by 177 months. Even though the court ordered to pay 8% interest on the delayed payment of the pension, the interest due on the arrears was paid only after 63 months. Even though that was only half of the total amount, surprisingly an affidavit was filed in the court that the court order was obeyed. This injustice also has been brought to the notice of the Court.

Should 80-year-old Raghupathi Bhat continue to fight this case until his last breath?

Full cooperation from the foundation

Udupi Human Rights Protection Foundation has supported and guided senior citizens to get their pensions and delayed interest. Now according to another government order issued, based on the 2003 court judgment, interest at the rate of 12 per cent has to be paid in case of delay in disbursement of pension and other benefits. The Foundation will fully cooperate to ensure victims get their full due to the last penny.

The never-ending struggle

There is an important point in the third paragraph of the order passed by the High Court in ProfessorRaghupathi Bhat’s case. It says interest should be paid to Bhat along with the accumulated pension as per the rules. The interest and expenses incurred to fight this case should be recovered from those responsible for this injustice. The foundation is already investigating whether the department officials or the governing body of the college is responsible. Applications have already been filed under the Right to Information Act to reach the truth. Why should people’s tax money be wasted on injustice done by government officials or the college administration? Offenders must pay the price, he said.

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