The landmark judgment delivered by the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court on 17th December 1982 in D.S.Nakara and others Vs. Union of India is hailed as the Magna Carta of the Pensioners. The Bench consisted of Chief Justice Y.V.Chandrachud, Justice V.D.Tulzapurkar, Justice D.A.Desai, Justice D.Chinnappa Reddy and Justice Baharul Islam. The judgment of 64 paragraphs, not only accepted the pleas raised by the petitioners, but also made important comments on the rights of the pensioners on the issue involved.

The judgment clearly stated that ” the pensioners for receiving Pension form a class and there is no criterion on which classification of pensioners retiring prior to specified date and retiring subsequent to that date can provide a rational principle co-related to the object viz. object underlying payment of pensions..”

It was also pointed out “..(i) That pension is neither a bounty nor a matter of grace depending upon the sweet will of the employer and that it creates a vested right subject to 1972 Rules which are statutory in character, because they are enacted in exercise of powers conferred by the Proviso to Art. 309 and Clause (5) of Art. 148 of the Constitution; (ii) that pension is not an ex-gratia payment, but is a payment for the past service rendered; and (iii) that it is a social welfare measure rendering socio-economic justice to those, who in the heyday of their life ceaselessly toiled for the employer on an assurance that in their old age, they would not be left in lurch..”.

It also mentioned that ” ..A Pension Scheme consistent with available resources must provide that the pensioner would be able to live (i) free from want and with decency, independence and self respect (ii) at a standard equivalent at the post-retirement level…”.

A good number of such significant comments are part of the Supreme Court judgment, giving a slap on the face of the government. The historic judgment restored the self-respect and honour of pensioners. That is why pensioners all over the country celebrate the day of the judgment, 17th December, as Pensioners’ Day.

The judgment, including the comments, compelled the Central Government to issue orders for pension revision as also include the matter in the terms of reference to subsequent Central Pay Commissions ie. IV, V, VI and VII. Naturally, Pension Revision became a part of Recommendations of the CPCs. The SC judgment also compelled the government to introduce many reforms like Pension Adalat, SCOVA etc. (To be continued)