The word pension is derived from the Latin word ‘pendre’ which means ‘to pay’. In simple terms, pension is a periodical payment made by a government, company or an employer of labor in consideration of past services or the relinquishment of rights, claims or emoluments; rather, it is a regular payment to persons in order that they maintain themselves. India follows a very fragmented and complex pension system with multiple Schemes, Rules and Regulations. This submission gives an outline of the pension related laws in India and further discusses about what can be done when a person is not given his pension.
Pension Laws In India:
To safeguard the interests and rights of senior citizens, the Government has framed various acts and rules. A thorough knowledge of these acts and rules help to keep a track on pension matters and the process of getting hassle free payments. Another benefit of knowing about these acts is to guard against being cheated of your pension grants.
Laws regulating Pension to Civil Servants
The following Rules and Acts are administered by the Department of Pension and Pensioners’ Welfare[i] –
- The Pensions Act, 1871
- Pensioners Procedure
- Central Civil Services (Pension) Rules, 1972
- Central Civil Services (Commutation of Pension) Rules, 1981
- Central Civil Services (Medical Examination) Rules, 1957
- Central Civil Services (Extraordinary Pensions) Rules
- General Provident Fund (Civil Services) Rules, 1960
- Contributory Provident Fund (India) Rules, 1962
- Payment of Arrears of Pension (Nomination) Rules, 1983
- All India Services (Death cum Retirement Benefits) Rules, 1958
Laws regulating Pension to Organized Sector:
Further, the organized sector is governed by the Employee’s Pension Scheme, 1995 which is a part of the Employees Provident Fund and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952.[ii] The purpose of the scheme is to provide pension and life assurance benefits to employees of any establishment or class of establishments to which the Act applies. The Scheme has contributions by the employer, employee and the Central Government. A Fund known as the Pension Fund is established and it is administered by the Central Board. It provides benefit to the members who have adopted the scheme as well as to the family members of the members who have adopted their scheme upon their death.
National Pension System and PFRDA:
National Pension System is a voluntary mode of subscribing for pension and is open to all citizens of India, whether resident or not, who are between the age group of 18 – 65 years and who have completed the KYC norms. NPS is an easily accessible, low cost, tax-efficient, flexible and portable retirement savings account. Under NPS, the individual contributes to his retirement account and his employer can also co-contribute for the social security/welfare of the individual. NPS is designed on Defined Contribution basis wherein the subscriber contributes to his / her pension account, there is no defined benefit that would be available at the time of exit from the system and the accumulated wealth depends on the contributions made and the income generated from investment of such wealth. The Pension Fund Regulatory & Development Authority Act was passed on 19th September, 2013 and the same was notified on 1st February, 2014. PFRDA is regulating NPS, subscribed by employees of Govt. of India, State Governments and by employees of private institutions/organizations & unorganized sectors.[iii]
Right to receive Pension:
Right to receive pension was recognized as right to property by the Constitution Bench Judgment of the Supreme Court in Deokinandan Prasad v. State of Bihar.[iv] Pension is a right and the payment of it does not depend upon the discretion of the Government but is governed by the rules and a Government servant coming within those rules is entitled to claim pension. It was further held that the grant of pension does not depend upon any one’s discretion. It is only for the purpose of quantifying the amount having regard to service and other allied maters that it may be necessary for the authority to pass an order to that effect but the right to receive pension flows to the officer not because of any such order but by virtue of the rules.[v]
The right of the pensioner to receive pension is property under Article 31(1) and by a mere executive order the State had no power to withhold the same. Similarly, the said claim is also property under Article 19(1)(f) and it is not saved by Sub-article (5) of Article 19.[vi] It can neither be adjusted against any loan amount advanced to the employee. Gratuity and pension are not bounties. An employee earns these benefits by dint of his long, continuous and faithful service. It is hard earned benefit which accrues to an employee and is in the nature of ‘property’. Such right to property cannot be taken away without due process of law as per the provisions of Article 300A of the Constitution of India. It was held that the attempt of the appellant State Government to take away a part of pension or gratuity or even leave encashment without any statutory provision could not be countenanced.[vii]
What can be done when a person is not paid his pension in India?
For Central Government Pensioners:
The first step is to make a representation before the concerned authority in the particular department. If there is no response even after representations, the pensioner can lodge a complaint at https://pensionersportal.gov.in/douknow.asp by following the below mentioned steps:
Step 1 – Keep your Pension Payment Order (PPO) number handy to ensure that your complaint is quickly answered by the government.
Step 2 – Open the website and click on CPENGRAMS tab.
Step 3 – Choose the option ‘individual pensioners’ and click on it to lodge a complaint.
Step 4 – A new tab will open wherein there will be three options viz., Lodge your grievance, Send reminder/clarification and View Your Grievance Status.
Step 5 – Once you click on the Lodge Your Grievance option a Grievance Registration Form appears. Fill it with the appropriate details.
Once you have successfully registered your complaint, then your complaint number will be displayed on computer screen. Keep this number handy for future reference.
If you have mentioned your mobile number and email ID while filling the form, then your complaint registration number will be intimated to you via SMS and email as well. It is advisable to mention your contact details apart from address in case the concerned department wants to contact you for further clarification on the information required by you before sending the official response. You will get intimation via SMS once your complaint is resolved by the department.
It is pertinent to note that there is a no mention on the portal about the maximum time period by which your complaint will be resolved. However, if your complaint is unresolved for more than 60 days, then you have the option to send a reminder to the concerned ministry/department.
For Organized Sector Pensioners
The Employee’s Provident Fund and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952 under Ss.8B to 8G empowers the recovering officer under the Act to take appropriate measures and recover the pension contribution payable by the employer, provided he has received orders from the authorized officer.
For those forming a part of the NPS
The NPS offers a multi-layered Grievance Redressal System which is easily accessible, simple, cost effective, responsive, quick and fair. The details of registering a grievance is primarily available at https://www.pfrda.org.in/index1.cshtml?lsid=177. There are five main methods available. They are –
a. Website based – https://cra-nsdl.com/CRA/cgmsMenuOnloadForSub.do
b. Call Centre or Interactive response based – The toll free number as mentioned may be dialed (1-800-222080).
c. Physical form based – Subscriber to the NPS can submit the grievance in a prescribed format to the Point of Presence – Service Personnel who would forward it to CRA Central Grievance Management System (CGMS).
d. NPS Trust – If unsatisfied with the other means, the subscriber may escalate the complaint to the NPS Trust through website or letter.
Website : www.npstrust.org.in
Letter: Subscriber may also raise the grievance by writing to NPS Trust at the following address –
Grievance Redressal Officer (GRO)
NPS Trust, 3rd Floor, B-14/A, Chatrapati Shivaji Bhawan, Qutub Institutional Area, Katwaria Sarai, New Delhi – 110016.
Ombudsman Based – The ombudsman may be contacted by letter or email. Ombudsman C/o Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority Plot No – B – 14/A, Chhatrapati Shivaji Bhawan, Qutub Institutional Area,
Katwaria Sarai, New Delhi – 110016.
Email id: firstname.lastname@example.org
From the above submissions it is very clear that the Right to receive pension is a constitutional right and cannot be curtailed by any manner. As much as the above first hand remedies are available, the pensioner may also approach the Court of Law under the Writ Jurisdiction pursuant to Art.226 of the Constitution of India. Writ Courts exercise their jurisdiction provided the alternative remedies have been exhausted and satisfactory measures are not taken by the administrative authorities.
Edited by Pragash Boopal
Approved & Published – Sakshi Raje
[ii] S.6A, Employee’s Provident Fund and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952.
[iv] (1971) 2 SCC 330.
[v] State of Punjab v. Iqbal Singh, AIR 1976 SC 667.
[vi] State of Jharkhand and others v. Jitendra Kumar Srivastava, (2013) 12 SCC 210.