New Delhi, Oct 23 (UNI) Virtually giving liberty to the state to challenge according to its own free will any decision which has already attained finality, the Supreme Court has ruled that the state is not prevented or barred from challenging the subsequent decisions or resisting subsequent writ petitions even though judgment in a case involving similar issue was allowed to reach finality in case of others.
A Bench comprising Justices G P Mathur and R V Raveendran dismissed the petitions of retired army doctors who had retired prior to Jan. 1, 1996 seeking fixation of their pensions by including revised rates of Non- Practicing Allowances (NPA) as were applicable in case of those who retired on or after Jan. 1,1996.
Retired medical, Dental and Veterinary officers in the Army Medical Corps (AMC) who had retired before Jan. 1,1996 had challenged the government circular dated Oct. 29,1999 on the grounds that the same was withdrawn by the government after it lost in Delhi high court and the high court order was not challenged in this court and has attained finality and the government is therefore stopped from challenging the present appeals as the present appeals involve the same issue.
The apex court while dismissing the appeals filed by Col.
(Retd.) B.J. Akkara and others observed," A particular judgment of the high court may not be challenged by the state where the financial repercussions are negligible or where the appeal is barred by limitation. It may also not be challenged due to negligence or oversight of the dealing officers or on account of wrong legal advice, or on account of the non-comprehension of seriousness or magnitude of the issue involved. However when similar matters subsequently crop up and the magnitude of the financial implications is realized, the state is not prevented or barred from challenging the subsequent decisions or resisting subsequent writ petitions even though judgment in case involving similar issue was allowed to reach finality in case of others. Of course, the position would be viewed differently if petitioners plead and prove that the state had adopted 'pick and choose' method only to exclude petitioners on account of malafides or ulterior motives." The court also permitted the Centre to recover the excess pension received by the petitioner w.e.f. circular dated Sept.
11,2001 till date in reasonable installments but the court refused to award interest to the government on the excess amount of pension.
The court also ruled that NPA had already been included inthe pay of pre-1996 while post 1996 retirees did not need the benefit as their pension is already above the minimum as per circular dated June 7,1999. The court, however directed that no recoveries would be made for the period between June 7,1999 and Sept. 11,2001.
UNI AKS/SC RP BS1724