Substitute employee can’t claim family pension against norms: High Court
Allowing Central Railway’s plea, the Nagpur bench of Bombay high court has ruled that temporary employee is not eligible for family pension without following procedure. “Though service of more than six months as a ‘substitute’ employee was rendered, that would not be sufficient to hold the respondent entitled for the family pension. The procedure prescribed has not been shown to be followed and, hence, mere acquisition of the status of a temporary employee would not make his family eligible for the pension,” a division bench comprising justices Vasanti Naik and Atul Chandurkar held.
Hari Borkar was employed as a ‘substitute’ ladderman with the Indian Railways on January 16, 1967, and after working for about three-and-a-half years, he expired on August 12, 1970. His wife Kamlabai sought settlement of dues, including family pension. However, the railways informed her in 1996 that there was no provision for it since her husband worked as ‘substitute’. She then knocked Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) door which granted her pension from November 12, 1994.
The railway challenged this order contending that there was no automatic absorption/appointment to its service of a ‘substitute’ employee unless the prescribed procedure was followed and therefore, Kamlabai was not entitled for the pension.
Kamlabai, in reply, argued that if a ‘substitute’ completed six months continuous service, the status of a temporary employee was attained, and on that basis, their family members were entitled for the pension.
The petitioners, however, pointed out that the Indian Railway Establishment Manual defines ‘substitute’ as persons engaged in the railway establishments on a regular scale of pay and allowances applicable to posts against which they are employed. It also clarifies that the conferment of temporary status on a ‘substitute’ on completion of six months continuous service would not entitle him to automatic absorption/appointment to the service unless the person is selected in the approved manner for appointment to the regular post.
“It is clear that mere completion of six months continuous service by a ‘substitute’ would not automatically have the effect of absorption/appointment to railway service unless the procedure prescribed for absorption/appointment has been followed,” the court held.