J. Venkatesan

"Grant of pension is a constitutional obligation of the State"

New Delhi: Aged parents are entitled to a portion of the family pension and the retiral benefits of the deceased government employee, the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) has said.

Citing Supreme Court judgments, the Guwahati Bench of the Tribunal said pension was not a bounty but a reward for services by the employee to the institution.

Vice-Chairman K.V. Sachidanandan said the pension rules should give a wider definition of family so as to include parents as beneficiaries. He said: "Old parents who take care of the children and bring them up by great sacrifice should not be left in the lurch in their heyday."

The tribunal said grant of pension was a constitutional obligation of the State conferred under Articles 309 and 148 (5) coupled with the touchstone of the Directive Principles of State Policy and the Preamble of the Constitution.

In the present case, a 34-year-old railway engineer Kanon Borgohain died in harness and was survived by his wife and aged parents. The parents moved the CAT for grant of a portion of his pension. The Railways submitted that as per the Family Pension Scheme for Railway Servants, they were not entitled to it.

Disposing of the application, the tribunal cited the amended Section 125 of the Criminal Procedure Code making provision for the maintenance of dependent parents and held that the same logic should be applied in this case by redefining `family.'

In the absence of any provision in the present rules, the Tribunal without giving any relief asked the Railway administration to refer the case to the Sixth Pay Commission or the competent authority to frame a rule ensuring social security and pensionary benefit to the parents.

It asked the Centre to consider appropriate social security to the aged, including modified health care in the proposed comprehensive pension reforms.