Srinagar, Nov 17: The High Court of J&K and Ladakh has set aside its single bench’s verdict in which employees of erstwhile State Road Transport Corporation were held entitled to all retiral benefits.
On 27 January last year, the single bench of the court had allowed a petition by Association of Road Transport employees and ordered that the employee be provided all retiral benefits as available to the Government employees of J&K and those extended benefit to the similarly situated employees of erstwhile Government Transport Undertaking (GTU).
The public transport in the erstwhile State of J&K, a division bench of Justice Sanjeev Kumar and Justice Wasim Sadiq Nargal observed, was earlier managed and run by the GTU which was a limb of the J&K Government. The employees serving in the GTU on substantive basis were treated as Government employees for all purposes including post retiral benefits, the division bench observed.
In the year 1950, the DB said, the Parliament enacted Central Road Transport Corporation Act 1950 (Act of 1950) which was extended to the State of Jammu and Kashmir w.e.f 01.09.1976.
“The extension of the Act of 1950 paved way for establishment of a Road Transport Corporation in the State of Jammu and Kashmir,” the DB said, adding, “Accordingly, the J&K State Road Transport Corporation came to be incorporated vide Notification No. SO 263 (E) dated 01.04.1976.”
This was followed by the issuance of Government Order (No. 25-TR of 1979 dated 27.03.1979) which among others provided that the employees of erstwhile GTU, which had been converted into a Corporation, would be treated as on deputation to the Corporation.
The Government servants earlier serving in the GTU and whose services were placed at the disposal of the Corporation, the DB observed, were called upon to exercise their option, whether to continue in the services of the Corporation or not. The Government also provided the consequences that would ensue to a government servant exercising option not to continue in the services of the Corporation, the DB noted. “Even the Government servants exercising option for rendering services in the Corporation were given further option to either retain their pensionary benefits available under the Government Rules or be governed by the Rules of the Corporation.”
The division bench underlined that the choice of making option, either to retain their status as Government employees or to become the employees of the Corporation, was given only to those employees who had been employed by the erstwhile GTU.
“We have carefully analyzed the impugned judgment rendered by the Writ Court (single bench) and given our anxious consideration to the rival contentions. We, however, regret our inability to approve the view of the Writ Court,” the division bench said, adding, “The direction issued by the Writ Court to the appellants (authorities) to grant pensionary benefits to the writ petitioners on the analogy of the employees of erstwhile GTU who, later on opted to serve the Corporation as also on the analogy of the employees of other Corporations is not supported by any reasons or any material on record.”
The division bench said the single bench’s verdict holding such employees entitled to pensionary benefits, “more particularly when the Rules and Regulations of 1979 applicable to the writ petitioners declare their service ‘non-pensionable’ is totally erroneous and unsustainable.”