Sunday, 19 May 2019

Whether charges for unlawful retention of government quarter can be recovered after it is deposited in bank account of pensioner?

The question is whether the respondent No. 3 was competent to direct the respondent No. 1- Bank to deduct an amount of Rs. 96,475/- from the pension account of the petitioner with it and further to remit it by way of deduction for unlawful retention of the Government quarter for the period from 1-4-1991 to 26-2-1998.

4. We are not entering into the controversy as to whether there was in fact retention of the quarter or that it was an illegal retention for the period from 1-4-1991 to 26-2-1998 by the husband of the petitioner. The reliance is placed upon Rule 72(6)(ii)(b) of the Central Civil Services (Pension) Rules, 1972, which runs as under:

Rule 72(6)(ii)(b):

"(ii) ... (b) after the word "Estates", the following shall be added, namely:-

"Any amount becoming due on account of Licence fee for retention of Government accommodation beyond four months after retirement and remaining unpaid may be ordered to be recovered by the Directorate of Estates through the concerned Accounts Officer from the dearness relief without the consent of the pensioner. In such cases no dearness relief shall be disbursed until full recovery of such dues have been made."

In our view, in terms of the aforesaid Rule, the amount of clearness allowance could have been recovered before depositing the amount of pension in the Bank account of the petitioner. It is not in dispute that such amount was not deducted. Once the amount of pension is disbursed and deposited in the Bank account of the petitioner, we do not find that any power is conferred upon the respondent No. 3- the Assistant Estate Manager under the aforesaid provision to direct the Bank to deduct such amount from the pension account of the petitioner and to remit it back to him. The recovery of the amount from the pension account of the petitioner is, therefore, unlawful and without any authority. The same cannot, therefore, be sustained and will have to be quashed and set aside.

IN THE HIGH COURT OF BOMBAY (NAGPUR BENCH)

Writ Petition No. 685 of 2006

Decided On: 24.11.2018

 Mrinal  Vs.  State Bank of India and Ors.

Hon'ble Judges/Coram:
R.K. Deshpande and Vinay Joshi, JJ.

Citation: 2019(2) MHLJ 686


1. This petition challenges the communication dated 8-6-2005 written to the Assistant General Manager, State Bank of India, Zonal Office, Nagpur, making reference to the communication dated 17-3-2005 written by the Assistant Estate Manager, Ministry of Urban Development, Government of India, directing recovery of amount of unauthorized occupation of the quarter by the husband of the petitioner, from the dearness allowance payable to the petitioner and remitting the same to the Assistant Estate Manager.

2. The husband of the petitioner-Sudhakar Bhake was enrolled in the Indian Air Force on 24-12-1955 and at the time of his retirement he was holding capacity of Sargent. He was released on pension with effect from 23-12-1970 and thereafter he was appointed in Geological Survey of India, Central Region, Nagpur, in the capacity of Telephone Operator with effect from 22-7-1972. Thereafter he was promoted as Upper Division Clerk and retired from the said post with effect from 31-3-1994. On the date of superannuation, an amount of Rs. 96,475/-, said to be outstanding against the petitioner for unlawful retention of the Government quarter for the period from 1-4-1991 to 26-2-1998, was directed to be recovered. Accordingly, by the communication dated 17-3-2005, the instructions were issued to the Branch Manager, State Bank of India, Chhaoni Branch, Nagpur, to deduct the said amount from the dearness amount payable to the petitioner. Accordingly, it is reported that such amount is deducted and out of it, an amount of Rs. 2,730/- was remitted to the Assistant Estate Manager, the respondent No. 3 herein.

3. The question is whether the respondent No. 3 was competent to direct the respondent No. 1- Bank to deduct an amount of Rs. 96,475/- from the pension account of the petitioner with it and further to remit it by way of deduction for unlawful retention of the Government quarter for the period from 1-4-1991 to 26-2-1998.

4. We are not entering into the controversy as to whether there was in fact retention of the quarter or that it was an illegal retention for the period from 1-4-1991 to 26-2-1998 by the husband of the petitioner. The reliance is placed upon Rule 72(6)(ii)(b) of the Central Civil Services (Pension) Rules, 1972, which runs as under:

Rule 72(6)(ii)(b):

"(ii) ... (b) after the word "Estates", the following shall be added, namely:-

"Any amount becoming due on account of Licence fee for retention of Government accommodation beyond four months after retirement and remaining unpaid may be ordered to be recovered by the Directorate of Estates through the concerned Accounts Officer from the dearness relief without the consent of the pensioner. In such cases no dearness relief shall be disbursed until full recovery of such dues have been made."

In our view, in terms of the aforesaid Rule, the amount of clearness allowance could have been recovered before depositing the amount of pension in the Bank account of the petitioner. It is not in dispute that such amount was not deducted. Once the amount of pension is disbursed and deposited in the Bank account of the petitioner, we do not find that any power is conferred upon the respondent No. 3- the Assistant Estate Manager under the aforesaid provision to direct the Bank to deduct such amount from the pension account of the petitioner and to remit it back to him. The recovery of the amount from the pension account of the petitioner is, therefore, unlawful and without any authority. The same cannot, therefore, be sustained and will have to be quashed and set aside.

5. In the result, this petition is allowed. The communication dated 8-6-2005 along with the communication dated 17-3-2005 issued by the respondent No. 3, is hereby quashed and set aside. The respondent No. 1 is directed to re-deposit the entire amount of Rs. 96,475/- or any portion thereof, if it has not been remitted with the respondent No. 3, till this date, along with the interest at the rate of 12% per annum from the date of withholding of this amount till its realization, in the pension account of the petitioner. Obviously, the interest would be payable only on the amount retained by the respondent No. 1. If the said amount already been remitted to the respondent No. 3, then the respondent No. 3 is directed to pay it, with interest at the rate of 12% per annum from the date of recovery till its repayment.

6. Rule is made absolute in above terms. No order as to costs.


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