Pension can be withheld if govt employee involved in criminal case, rules HC

Pension can be withheld if govt employee involved in criminal case, rules HC

Srinagar: The J&K High Court has ruled that the government is within its powers to withhold pension and other retirement benefits from an employee who is involved in a criminal case.
Dismissing the plea of an employee, Ghulam Mohammad Lone, who had sought release of post-retirement benefits, the court said that the authorities were well within their rights in withholding pension and benefits including gratuity, leave salary, and differential salary for suspension period in view of a pending criminal case against a government employee.
However, the court noted that if the criminal case was pending for more than 20 years, as in the case of Ghulam Mohammad Lone against whom the FIR was lodged in 1997, the government authorities were duty bound to make every endeavour to ensure that the proceedings pending before the court be taken to their logical conclusion.
“The petitioner cannot be kept in the lurch for his entire lifetime on the ground of a case being registered against him, and deprived of his rights as may have accrued to him during the course of his service career and subsequent retirement,” Justice Magrey recorded.
The court also noted that it was not apparent why the case had remained pending before the trial court, despite the fact that the challan in the case had been filed before the trial court in November 2007, more than 10 years ago.
Lone, in his petition, stated that he was appointed in a government department in the year 1984 and accordingly retired from service after attaining the age of superannuation on 31st of August, 2016.
He claimed that he filed multiple representations before the government for seeking release of his post-retirement benefits, but all his requests and representations fell on deaf ears, compelling him to file the petition.
In its objections, the government stated that the post-retirement benefits of Lone had been withheld because he was involved in FIR No.25/2014 registered by Police Station, Vigilance Organisation, Kashmir for the commission of offences punishable under J&K Prevention of Corruption Act and Section 120-B RPC for abuse of official position and illegally/ fraudulently misappropriating an amount of Rs 2 lakh, forty-seven thousand during the period 2009-12.
The court while dismissing the petitioner’s plea said that the FIR had been registered before his retirement. “Therefore, unless the trial is concluded, petitioner is entitled only to provisional pension, which the department has already sanctioned,” the court said.