Pension of a government employee cannot be withheld unless he was found guilty of "grave misconduct", the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) has held while giving relief to a retired Income Tax officer.
The tribunal further ordered release of gratuity to the officer, holding that the benefit cannot be withheld in any case.
"The appointing authority has been given the power to withhold or withdraw pension or a part thereof, if the pensioner is convicted of a serious crime or is found guilty of grave misconduct," the tribunal bench, comprising Chairman Justice V K Bali and Vice Chairman L K Joshi, said.
The CAT passed the order on a plea of former Income Tax officer Prabhu Lal challenging the government's decision to withhold retirement benefits on the ground of an FIR registered in a criminal case in which he was named.
The tribunal said that no case of misconduct has been proved against the petitioner as the criminal case has not been filed in the discharge of his duty in the office.
"The government is directed to release the regular pension, commuted amount of pension and gratuity to Lal," the CAT ordered.
However, the tribunal made it clear that if Mr Lal would get convicted in the case, then the authority concerned is free to take appropriate action against the former officer.
Mr Lal retired from the post of income tax officer in 2007 but his retirement benefits were withheld for his alleged involvement in a dispute regarding which an FIR was registered.