The Madras High Court has ordered notice of motion on a writ petition by an Assistant Manager of the Small Industries Development Bank of India (SIDBI), who was a former Lieutenant in the Navy, challenging a bank order of August this year rejecting his application seeking voluntary retirement.

He also sought a consequent direction to the bank to allow him to retire with terminal and other consequential benefits, including pension, by taking into account his military service in terms of SIDBI Staff Regulations 2001 and SIDBI Pension Regulations 2002.

Justice N. Paul Vasanthakumar before whom the petition came up, ordered that the notice would be returnable in four weeks.

In his petition, filed through counsels C.S. Monica and S. Vaidyanathan, S. Srinivasan submitted he was an engineering graduate and completed Short Service Commission of seven years in the Navy in August 1993 and was paid terminal gratuity. He was discharged on completion of service in the rank of Lieutenant. He subsequently joined the SIDBI in 1995 in Puducherry branch. At the time of joining the bank, he had exercised the option of pension. He surrendered his navy gratuity on the bank's advice.

As per a bank circular of 2002, service rendered by an employee with Central/State Governments, autonomous body of Central Government prior to joining the bank would be counted as qualifying service for pension subject to certain terms and conditions.

In July this year, he sought voluntary retirement after the mandatory notice period. His request was rejected on the ground that his total service in the bank was less than 20 years and his past service in the Navy be counted only for computation of pension and that it had no effect on the qualifying service for seeking voluntary retirement. He wrote a detailed letter clarifying the queries made.

Earlier, to a clarification sought by him, the bank had acceded to his request for taking into account his past service of seven years for pension in the bank.

Petitioner said the bank's action in rejecting his application was illegal. He had rendered 15 years in the bank apart from seven years in the military.

The bank having considered his past service of seven years for pension purpose, it was improper for it to contend that he had not completed 20 years of qualifying service in the bank.