Saturday, April 29, 2017

Delhi HC imposes costs of Rs. 50,000 on AIIMS for “wasting public money and precious time of court”

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday imposed costs of Rs. 50,000 on All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) for filing a frivolous petition.

The costs were imposed in a petition filed by AIIMS against the order of Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT), which directed AIIMS to finalize the pension and other retirement dues payable to the respondent, Florence Sahotra, along with interest of 6%.

Imposing the cost, the bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Deepa Sharma observed,

“At the outset, we would like to record our anguish on account of this frivolous petition being filed by the petitioner/ AIIMS. As would appear from the following observations, this petition has been filed despite the fact that the legal position stands well-settled and there was absolutely no doubt about the merit of the respondent’s case.”

It was submitted by AIIMS through Advocate RK Gupta before the CAT as well as before the Delhi High Court, that since the respondent had tendered her resignation, she forfeited her past service and was not entitled to any pension and other retirement benefits.

It was also submitted that the respondent had not completed 20 years of qualifying service and therefore Rule 48A, which permits a Government servant who has 20 years of qualifying service to give notice of not less than three months in writing to retire from service, would not be applicable.

The respondent, however, claimed that she was forced to give her resignation after she came back from extended leave taken to visit her ailing aunt in the United Kingdom.

She stated that she had offered to take voluntary retirement if her application for extension of leave was not approved. However, she did not get any response from the petitioner regarding the same.

The respondent also claimed that she was relieved from service retrospectively w.e.f. 10.04.2002, even though she gave her letter of resignation only on 14.07.2004. The respondent then sought release of her pension, gratuity and other retirement benefits.

Both the Delhi High Court and the CAT rejected the submissions of AIIMS.

The High Court held that the respondent had more than 20 years of qualifying service as of the date on which she tendered her resignation. The Court said that according to well settled principles, it was clear that the qualifying service of the petitioner had to be counted from initial date of ad-hocappointment and not from any other date as contended by the petitioner.

“The respondent having completed 20 years of service, the resignation tendered by her is liable to be treated as an application for voluntary retirement.”

The Court further held,

“The respondent had sought voluntary retirement by giving three months notice, and there was no rejection of the said application by the petitioner. By force of proviso to Rule 48A(2), the retirement of the respondent became effective from the date of expiry of the said notice period.” 

The Court also made observations regarding wastage of public money and Court’s time:

“Despite the aforesaid position being the well-settled by a catena of decisions, the petitioner has dragged the respondent to this Court; wasted public money; and the precious time of this Court. We do not approve such a litigious attitude on the part of the petitioner.”

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