Monday, February 20, 2012

Indian Pensioners - Persecuted

Indian Pensioners - Persecuted



The Pensioners' Portal of the Government of India reads as follows:


"Senior Citizens are a treasure to our Society. They have worked hard all these years for the development of the Nation as well as the community. They possess a vast experience in different walks of life. At this stage, they need to be taken care of and made to feel special".


The truth on the ground, unfortunately strikes a contrast with the proclaimed ideals. Instead of the pensioners taken care of in their twilight years of life, they are subjected to merciless attack.


There are 11 million pensioners out of 480 million working people covered under Pension Schemes. The Government is attacking these pensioners in a consistent manner. They are forced to approach various High Courts, Administrative Tribunals and Supreme Court for justice and even if the honorable Courts give judgments in favor of the Pensioners, appeals and Special Leave Petitions are made by the Government and its agencies, so that justice do not come to the Pensioners while they are living.


Let us examine a few cases starting with Banking and Insurance Pensioners. The Pensions of Central Government and various State Government Pensioners get updated along with every pay revision of respective employees. Updation means upward revision of pension commensurate with revision of pay scales of employees (which takes care of inflation and progress of Sector). The provision of updation will remove the disparities between the Pensioners based on the date of their retirements and treats all pensioners equitably. But it does not take place due to wrong implementation.


This Pension updation was there in the Reserve Bank Pension Scheme also. To quote the RBI Circular dated March 13, 1992 - The general consensus is that globally pension is considered to be one of the best social security measure as compared to others, because of its certain unique features such as updation of basic pension .


Subsequent to the introduction of the Pension Scheme the pay of the RBI employees have been revised on three occasions, viz, with effect from November l 1992, November 1 1997 and November 1 2002. Accordingly, Pension updation was carried out by the RBI to its Pensioners. But all of a sudden, the pension updation given to the RBI employees by the Bank was withdrawn from October,, 2008 on the direction of the Central Government, it is to be noted here that the Pension Scheme of the RBI is entirely funded by the RBI and its employees, unlike that of the Government Pensioners and hence it cannot be argued that it is a burden on the exchequer.(Pay scales of pensionable govt. employees are designed to be on lower side to cater for Pension. Thus their pension is a daffered wage & cannot be said to be burden)


Thus the RBI Pensioners are not only deprived of future updation, but also lost the updation already given, thus losing their present pensions substantially. Now the RBI Pensioners are waging a prolonged legal battle.


The plight of the Insurance Pensioners, both Life and Genera! is another story. The LIC employees and G1C Employee:; Pension rules were made in 1995 with effect from l November I393 and l August 1993 respectively, though there is no mention of updation of Pension in both the Schemes, the Residuary Provisions Clause in both she Schemes speaks as follows:


"Matters relating to Pension and other benefits in respect of which no express provision has been made in these rules, shall be governed by the corresponding provisions contained in the Central Civil Services (Pension) Rule:;, 1972 or the Central Civil Services (Commutation of Pension} Rules, 1981 applicable for Central Government Employees".


Thus, even though it is very clear that in case of updation, the LIC arid General Insurance Pensioners are to be treated as per Centra! Government Employees Pension Rules, the managements and Government are denying the same to them. Thus the Pensioners are deprived of the Wage Revision benefits accorded to the employees in 1997, 2002 and 2007, after the Pension Scheme came into being effective from 1993. The result is that "more senior the Pensioner, less the Pension" has become the order of the day and the lives of the Senior most Pensioners becoming miserable.


On realizing the mistake, the LIC decided to sort out the issue by proper remedy by passing a resolution in its Board Meeting held on 24ih November, 2001. The Board opined that there were three different groups of Pensioners at present depending on their dates of retirement, which is not correct and decided to end the discrimination. The resolution was sent to Government for its approval (though formal approval is not required from the Government).


Though ten long years have elapsed, the Government did not give its approval and the LIC management did not implement its own Board Resolution aimed at ending its discrimination and injustice. The LIC Pensioners at Jaipur approached the Rajasthan High Court and the Court gave a Judgment first by a single Judge on 12:h January, 2010 and then by a Division Bench on 24n January 2011 (on appeal by LIC) categorically directing the LIC to pay all the retired employees the same benefits and end the discrimination.


Even then the LIC Management did not pay the arrears to the LIC pensioners and they continue to suffer even after 10 years of long wait.


If anybody thinks that it is only the Bank and Insurance Pensioners that are under attack, they are thoroughly mistaken. The Government is giving the same treatment to its own pensioners. The 6th Pay Commission directed that the Pensions of Central Government employees retired prior to 1st January, 2006 to be revised at par with those retired after that date, But the Central Govt. decided to nullify these directions and accordingly directed on 29lh August 2008 to stop paying the revised pension. Thus the pensioners retired prior to January, 2006 were deprived of updation of pension and their jives became miserable.


The hapless pensioners and their Central Govt. Pensioners Association had to approach the Central Administrative Tribunal (CAT) and the three Judges bench of the CAT chaired by Hon'ble Justice V.K. Bali struck down the Central Govt. directive of 29/08/2008 and directed the Government to pay the arrears to the Pensioners within 3 months of receiving the orders.


We are yet to see whether the Central Government will honor the judgment! How many times the Pensioners approach the High Courts, the CAT and the Supreme Court? Is it possible for a retired employee with a meager pension as his earnings, move in search of justice the various Courts in the Country* Is it possible for a person of above 60 years climbing the steps of the Courts for ten/fifteen years? Unfortunately the Government is subjecting these senior citizens to inhuman attacks in their twilight years of their life, who served the institution and the country for more than 3 to 4 decades. And hundreds of them are dying before receiving their rightful dues after years of torturous legal battles.


The vicious nature of the attack can be seen when the Government devised the New Pension Scheme. This New Pension Scheme brought by the Government is universally applicable to all the employees of Central Government, copied by all the State Government for their employees except the three States of Kerala, West Bengal and Tripura and thrust in all the enterprises of Insurance, Banks, Public Sector and Private Sector. This Scheme is applicable to all the employees joining the establishment in or after 2004.


The New Pension Scheme in is based on "Defined" and "Assured" contribution. That is the employee/worker's contribution to the Pension Fund is defined. Say 10% of Pay from the employee with a contribution from the employer. This amount is kept in the individual accounts of the employee in Pension Fund to be operated by Fund Operators put in Investments and Stock Markets. Depending upon the returns, the Individual Pensioner will receive a monthly Pension. If his Pension Fund secures profit, he will receive Pension, if it loses, he may lose a part or whole pension. This in short is the philosophy of the New Pension Scheme.


The present (old) Pension Scheme, whatever its short comings, assures a "Defined Pension". Every employee knows that he will receive a Pension of 50 percent of last drawn pay plus the dearness allowance revised once in every six months after retirement, every month. He knows his last drawn salary and the Pension he will receive at the time of retirement. His pension is "defined" and he is "assured" of it.


And this New Pension Scheme simply takes away this "assurance" and the Pensioner at the fag end of his life is at the mercy of Stock Markets and Fund Investors. He had to undergo from High Blood Pressure to Heart Attacks whenever the Stock Market crashes, instead of peacefully waiting for an assured pension, however meager it may be, on the first day of every month. This is the cruel attack on the Pensioners by the so called Socialist Democratic Government of India.


The clever ploy of the Government is visible in the way it is dividing the Pensioners into two categories. Those recruited in and after 2004 are automatically thrown into the New Scheme; where as the existing Pensioners are governed by the old Scheme. The existing Pensioners least tasted the "assured pensions'"'. The newly recruited employees are not aware of the Pension Scheme and they are much less interested to know about the Pension Scheme which comes into operation after 30 to 40 years. And even if they come to know the cruel nature of the Scheme, they cannot come out of it as it is one of the service conditions of their employment.


All most all the Pensioners' Associations of Central, State Govt. employees, Insurance, Banks and all most all Central Trade Unions have opposed the New Pension Scheme, 2004. They are showing the examples of European Countries, where the Pensioners lost their hard earned Pensions because of such Pension Schemes, where Pension Funds are thrown open to Stock Market sharks. But this Government is bent upon implementing the New Pension Scheme. It is not astonishing that the Government which liberally allowed lakhs of crores or rupees to be looted by big wigs resulting in one scam after another to put the thousands of crores of Rupees of hard earned Pension Funds into the hands of such sharks.


But it is for us the poor pensioners to protect our pensions and improve them, so that we can lead a peaceful and decent life after retirement. That is why there is no other way than to oppose the New Pension Policy and Jemand rcr updation-of Pension and a comprehensive medical scheme.


pvsubbarao49@gmail.com P.V. Subba Rao


Mobile No.09440301980 Central Committee Member,


Visakhapatnam All India Insurance Pensioners' Association










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