The payment of a retired employee’s pension is not dependent on the employer’s whims and fancies, held the Kerala High Court saying that it is the employee’s constitutional right, if not a fundamental right.
Justice VG Arun called pension ‘deferred salary’ saying that this right should be treated just like property under Article 300A of the Constitution of India. He stated that pension should not be treated as a ‘bounty’ that employers can keep from the employees or pay it when, how and if they feel like.
The petitions were from existing and retired employees of the Kerala Books and Publications Society (KBPS), which is a State government-owned registered society, and whose staff were eligible for the Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF), Miscellaneous Provisions Act and Employees’ Pension Scheme.
Attention was drawn by the labour unions to the major difference between the salaries and pensions of KBPS staff and that of government employees, even though KBPS happened to be fully-owned by the Kerala government.
A special committee of experts was formed to look into the formation of an exclusive fund for KBPS staff, as directed by the Labour Court.
The committee had advised that pension be paid as per Part III of the Kerala Service Rules, along with financial support in terms of budget allowance from the government.
Later, following sanction from the State, the KBPS Employees Contributory Pension and General Provident Fund Regulations, 2014 was published.
The retired employees argued that they should be given full pension, starting from their date of retirement as per the Pension Regulations.