Excess salary/pension could be recovered, says HC

Hearing a large number of petitions challenging the recovery of excess salary/pension paid, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court on Thursday observed that wherever it was legally permissible, the recovery of excessive payment could be made.

However, in the case of last grade and retired employees, the excess payment should be recovered from officials responsible for it.

Justice S.M. Subramaniam observed that the competent authorities of the State government are the custodians of tax payers’ money and they are trustees. Thus, in the event of any lapse, negligence or dereliction of duty in the matter of payment of excess salary/pension to employees, the officials concerned must be responsible and liable for the financial loss.

The court was hearing a petition filed by Subburaj of Madurai, a retired headmaster. The petitioner challenged the recovery of excess pension amount paid to him after audit objections were raised over fixation of pay. It was said that no show cause notice or reasonable opportunity was provided to the petitioner.

Retired employees were not entitled to receive excess pension or pension benefits, which were all paid from tax collected from the public. The principle of law, as already settled, enumerates that excess payment, if any, made from the taxpayers’ money should be recovered and deposited in the State Treasury.

The court said that the Supreme Court in State of Punjab and Others vs Rafiq Masih (White Washer) case had held that the last grade and retired employees were to be exempted from the recovery, considering the hardship that could be caused to them. In subsequent Supreme Court direction, it was held that only in the event of an administrative error, the exemption could be granted.

However, the court said that excess monetary benefits paid must be recovered from the officials who committed the negligence. The court directed the Chief Secretary to issue a consolidated circular stating that officials accountable for excess payment would have to compensate the financial loss occurred to the State exchequer.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2021 5:31:33 AM |

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