The Supreme Court in the case of State of Maharashtra & Anr. v/s Bhagwan & Ors. ruled that the employees of Water and Land Management Institute (WALMI) cannot claim the same pensionary benefits as government employees.
The Governing Council of WALMI in its 44th meeting resolved to send a proposal to the Government to grant pensionary benefits to the employees of WALMI. The then Director General of WALMI issued a communication to the Secretary, Irrigation Department and gave his opinion in affirmative for grant of pensionary benefits to the employees of WALMI. But the Government of Maharashtra through its Finance Department issued a resolution and introduced a new Contributory Pension Scheme for the Government servants who are recruited on or after a specific date in the State Government service. The State Government through its Finance Department issued another resolution and resolved that the employees serving in Grant-in-aid Institutes, Mandals, Corporations etc. are not entitled for grant of pensionary benefits and the Pension Rules shall not be made applicable to them.
Solicitor General, Tushar Mehta appearing on behalf of the State of Maharashtra, vehemently contended that in the facts and circumstances of the case, the High Court has committed a grave error in quashing and setting aside the conscious decision taken by the State Government not to extend the pensionary benefits to the employees of WALMI.
Advocate J.N. Singh, appearing on behalf of the respondents, while opposing the present appeals vehemently contended that in the facts and circumstances of the case, the High Courts, after having been satisfied that there was no valid justification not to extend the pensionary benefits to the employees of WALMI has rightly directed the State to extend the pensionary benefits to the employees of WALMI.
The division bench of Justice M.R. Shah and Justice B.V. Nagarathna noted that merely because WALMI has a fund with itself, it cannot be a ground to extend the pensionary benefits. Grant of pensionary benefits is not a one-time payment. Grant of pensionary benefits is a recurring monthly expenditure and there is a continuous liability in future towards the pensionary benefits. “Merely because at one point of time, WALMI might have certain funds does not mean that for all times to come, it can bear such a burden of paying pension to all its employees,” the court added.
The court while setting aside and quashing the impugned common judgment and order passed by the High Court held that the employees of WALMI, which is an independent autonomous body registered under the Societies Act are not entitled to the pensionary benefits.