Madras High Court directs Centre to consider SBI's proposal

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Chennai, Oct 19 (UNI) The Madras High Court has directed the Centre to consider the State Bank of India's proposal, which was made in April 2006, to approve the draft amendment for refixing pension of its employees, who retired (award staff) between November one, 1997 and April one, 1998 (officers), and November one, 2002 within three months.

Disposing of writ petitions, here yesterday, Justice R Banumathi directed the government to consider the bank's proposal in respect of the merger of 1684 points index and pass appropriate orders.

The petitioners were not entitled to any relief or directions in respect of other aspects.

The petitions, filed by counsel N Seshadri, prayed for a writ to call for the records on the file of the SBI relating to the impugned amendments to the SBI Employees Pension Fund Rules vide two letters dated May 1997 and October 2000, and quash the same.

The petitioners prayed for a direction to the respondents SBI, trustees of SBI Pension and Provident Fund and Secretaries to the Government of India, Ministry of Finance, Department of Banking and the Department of Pension and Pensioners Welfare to pay pension and commutation in accordance with the lawful definition of pension by following the formulae and commutation method, which was being followed by other public sector banks, as laid down by the Centre.

The challenge in the writ petitions was three-fold. As regards revision, the petitioners grievance were that though there was a revision in pay scales by the VII Bipartite Settlement of 1997-1998, pension for those who had retired between the specified period was calculated on the basis of pre-revised scales of 1992-1993, which was discriminatory and violative of Article 14 and the table of commutation adopted by the SBI was arbitrary.

Opposing the petitions, the respondents said the SBI-EPF rules were statutory and in force for nearly 50 years. Comparison of SBI-EPF rules with other public sector institutions was flawed.

The bank had addressed the RBI and the Central government to grant necessary approval to incorporate the revised scale of pay brought in 1997-1998. It was already pending with the Centre.

Justice Banumathi said since SBI had proposed to refix the pension and was awaiting the approval of the government, the petitioners' grievance with regard to non-inclusion of D A did not merit acceptance.

UNI XR DS AE BST1127

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