Our Legal Correspondent

Chennai, July 5

The Madras High Court has rejected the plea of the employees of State Bank of India for issue of a direction to the Government of India to accept the case of the employees for revision of family pension benefit as per the 7th Bipartite Wage Settlement.

The bank informed the employees on March 18, 2008 that it was taking up their ‘legitimate' aspirations as per the 7th Bipartite Wage Settlement with the Government. Until such time as it heard from the Government, the employees would be paid pension as per existing rules.

According to a group of petitioners, by a circular dated January 11, 2001 , they were eligible for revision of salary for payment of pension with effect from November 1, 1997 for award staff and from April 1, 1998 for supervising staff, subject to the approval of the Government and the Reserve Bank of India.

The petitioners contended that while the bank chose to revise family pension as per the wage settlement, they did not revise the pension to retirees and persons similarly situated could not be discriminated. Being retirees, all of them should get the same rate of pension.

The said batch of writ petitions came to be disposed of by the order dated October 16, 2008, directing the Union of India to consider the proposals made by SBI seeking for approval of draft amendment.

In the counter affidavit filed by SBI, it was stated that the petitioners were not entitled for pension benefits as per the bipartite settlement. Subsequently, the bipartite settlement relating to wage and the issue was taken up by the bank with the Government and the RBI for the purpose of revising the payment of pension, and the approval of Government was awaited.

It was also stated that persons who had retired under VRS scheme were bound by the terms of the scheme, and they could not compare themselves with persons who retired in normal course as per pension rules.

Mr Justice K. Chandru, who heard the batch of writ petitions, said that the SBI Employees Pension Fund rules were framed under Section 50 of SBI Act by the Central Board of SBI after consultation with the RBI and with the previous sanction of the Central Govt. Therefore, any amendment also required appropriate approval by the Centre.

(This article was published in the Business Line print edition dated July 6, 2010)
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