The Kerala Lok Ayukta has held that the mere registration of a criminal case against a government employe cannot result in denial of full pension benefits to the person concerned.

In its verdict on a petition filed by A. Solomon, retired senior superintendent with the Department of Industrial Training, a Division Bench of the Lok Ayukta ordered the government to immediately release the withheld portion of the petitioner’s gratuity with 8 per cent interest November 1, 2007, till the date of payment.

The Division Bench, comprising Lok Ayukta M. M. Pareed Pillay and Upa Lok Ayukta G. Sasidharan noted that though the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau had registered a case against 23 persons including Mr. Solomon in connection with alleged irregularities in the tabulation of mark sheets of the 1994 ITI examination and filed an FIR before the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Thiruvananthapuram, that the investigating agency had not filed the final report and the court had not taken cognisance of the case.

Although the government side contended that pension benefits of employees against whom cases are pending before judiciary can be finally settled only after the disposal of the cases, the Lok Ayukta pointed out that under Rule 3A of Kerala Service Rules read with Rule 3, a judicial proceeding shall be deemed to have been instituted in the case of a criminal case if the magistrate has taken cognisance of it.

In Mr. Solomon’s case, though the crime was registered in 2000, the magistrate had not taken cognisance of it as the investigating agency had not filed the final report even as late as 2009. “As there is no material to hold that a criminal case is pending against the petitioner before the court, withholding of a portion of the D.C.R.G. (gratuity) as effected by the respondents cannot be sustained,” the Lok Ayukta held.