As pension is a continuous cause of action, the Supreme Court ruled recently that pension arrears cannot be dismissed on the basis of delay in approaching the court.
The appellant and other petitioners had filed a writ suit with the Bombay High Court in Goa, challenging their employer's (the Goa Government) decision to retire them at the age of 58 instead of 60. As stipulated by the Goa, Daman, and Diu Reorganisation Act, which established the State of Goa and the Union Territories of Daman and Diu, they were entered into service prior to the appointment date. The appellant and the other petitioners argued that the Act of the Government was in violation of Section 60(6) of the Reorganisation Act, which stipulates that the conditions of service applicable immediately before the appointed day shall not be altered to the detriment of employees appointed prior to it, unless the Central Government gives its approval. Despite the fact that the Bombay High Court determined the retirement age to be 60, it ruled that they were not entitled to any compensation or back wages for the two extra years they would have been in service. It was estimated that the pension would be based on their ongoing service until they reached the age of 60, but no pension arrears would be paid. Even at the revised rates, the pension would not be payable until January 1, 2020.
A panel composed of Justices M.R. Shah and B.V. Nagarathna vacated the judgement of the High Court inasmuch as it rejected pension arrears. The court ruled that the appellants are entitled to pension at the amended rates as of their 60th birthday. Additionally, pension arrears were ordered to be paid to the appellant within four weeks.
The Supreme Court, after hearing the arguments of Mr. Rahul Gupta, representing the appellant, and Mr. Ravindra Lokhande, representing the State of Goa, was of the opinion that the High Court may have been right and/or justified in denying any salary for the period of two extra years to the writ petitioners had they remained in service.
However, there was no grounds for refusing the pension arrears relief.
"...as far as the pension is concerned, it is a continuous cause of action. There is no justification at all for denying the arrears of pension as if they would have been retired/superannuated at the age of 60 years. There is no justification at all by the High Court to deny the pension at the revised rates and payable only from 1st January, 2020. Under the circumstances, the impugned judgment and order passed by the High Court is required to be modified to the aforesaid extent".
Partly allowing the appeal, the Court said:
"The impugned judgment and order passed by the High Court to the extent of denying any arrears of pension and holding that the appellant shall be entitled to the pension at the revised rates only from 1st January, 2020 is hereby quashed and set aside. It is held and ordered that the appellant –original writ petitioner shall be entitled to pension at the revised rates from the date he attains the age of 60 years. Now the arrears accordingly shall be paid to the appellant within a period of four weeks from today"