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3500/- PLB AND ANY RECOVERY MADE FROM GDS SHALL BE REFUNDED WITHIN ONE MONTH The judgment:-
CENTRAL ADMINISTRATIVE TRIBUNAL CHANDIGARH BENCH.
O.A NO.256/PB/2009 Date of order: 8.5.2009 CORAM: HON'BLE MRs. SHYAMA DOGRA, MEMBER (J) HON'BLE MR. KHUSHIRAM, MEMBER (A) 1. All India Postal E.D. Employees Union, (Pb. Circle Amritsar through Sh. Lakhwinderpal Singh, Circle Secretary. 2. Lakhwinderpal Singh Circle Secretary, All India Postal E.D. Employees Union (Pb. Circle) Northern Railway Workshop Post Office, Amritsar. 3. Joginder Singh Rayat, Branch Postmaster, V&PO Kitna, Via Moranwali, Distt. Hoshiarpur, Divisional Secretary, Hoshiarpur Division, All India Postal E.D. Employees (Pb. Circle). 4. Jarnail Singh, EDDR, Branch Office, Kotla Nihang, Head Office, Ropar, Divisional Secretary (Chandigarh Division) All India Postal E.D. Employees Union (Pb. Circle) Amritsar. ……………Applicants Versus 1. Union of India through the Secretary, Govt. of India, Ministry of Communications & IT., Deptt. of Posts, Dak Bhawan, Sansad Marg. New Delhi. 2. Director General, Govt. of India, Ministry of Communications, Deptt. of Posts, Dak Bhawan, Sansad Marg, New Delhi. 3. Chief Postmaster General, Pb. Circle, Chandigarh. 4. Sr. Supdt. Post Office, Amritsar. 5. Sr. Supdt. Post Offices, Hoshiarpur. 6. Sr. Supdt Post Offices, Ropar.
Respondents. For the applicant- Mr. Madan Mohan, Advocate For the respondents- Mr. Rohit Sharma vice Mr. Deepak Adhihotri, Advocate
ORDER Hon'ble Mrs Shyama Dogra, Member (J): This Application has been filed by the All India Postal E.D. Employees Union through its Circle Secretary Sh. Lakhwinder Singh, and two other bearers of the Union. Their grouse is that the respondents are making recovery of the Productivity Linked Bonus ('PLB' for short) paid to EDDAs for the years 2006-07 and 2007-08 in view of the order at Annexure A-1 dated 9.2.2009. They have, therefore, prayed for quashing of Annexure A-1 and for a declaration that the applicants are entitled to grant of PLB as before without any discrimination. Applications have pleaded that Gramin Dak Sevaks throughout India are being paid adhoc Productivity linked bonus year after year like other regular employees and accordingly they were paid bonus for the years 2006-07 and 2007-08. But respondent No.1 has issued letter dated 9.2.2009 as at Annexure A-1, whereby, it has been clarified that the orders of Ministry of Finance dated 10.10.08 regarding payment of bonus are applicable to eligible central Government departmental employees only. The case of the applicants is that the respondents are not considering GDS employees as Central Govt. employees and on this basis; they are going to recover the payment of bonus made to them. Placing reliance on a judgment of the Hon'ble Apex court in the case of Union of India and others vs. Kameshwar Prasad- 1998 SCC (L&S) 447, the applicants claim that they are government employees holding civil posts under the Union and are entitled to protection of Article 311(2) like other Govt. employees. They are, therefore, entitled to payment of bonus like other Central Govt. employees, and the recovery being made from them is illegal, arbitrary and violative of Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution. The respondents have a reply, stating that the GDS employees are not entitled to Productivity Linked Bonus. However, they were being paid bonus in the shape of Ex-gratia. Consequent upon amendment to payment of Bonus Act 1965, the ceiling of amount was earlier revised from 1600-2500 and in October,2008 is was revised from 2500-3500 only for Central Govt. employees and not for Gramin Dak Sevaks, who cannot claim themselves at par with Central Govt.
employees. However, payment of Ex-gratia at revised rates for the years 2006-07 and 2007-08 was inadvertently made to GDS working in Chandigarh and Honshiarpur Postal Divisions in the month of November/December, 2008. On receipt of various references, the Postal Directorate New Delhi clarified vide Annexure A-1 that the orders of Ministry of Finance dated 10.10.08 are applicable to eligible Central Government departmental employees only. On receipt of this clarification, recovery of overpaid ex-gratia was ordered to be recovered in Chandigarh and Hohsiarpur Divisions. In Amritsar Postal Division, Ex-gratia was not paid on the revised rates; hence no orders have been issued for any recovery. The respondents have justified the recovery of overpaid amount of exgratia. We have heard the learned counsel for the parties and given our thoughtful consideration to the matter. It is admitted case of the parties that GDS employees have all along been paid ad hoc bonus at the same rates, PLB is paid to the Central Govt. employees. Through letter dated 10.10.2008 (A-5), Ministry of Finance, Deptt. of Expenditure, New Delhi revised the calculation ceiling for various employees w.e.f. 1.4.2006 i.e. from the year 2006-07 as under: Calculation ceiling Existing Revised ¼emoluments) PLB in Railways Rs.2500 Rs.3500 PLB in other Deptts/Organizations Rs.2500 Rs.3500 Ad hoc bonus for Employees not Rs.2500 Rs.3500 covered by PLB Admittedly, the applicants were paid adhoc bonus/ex gratia at the revised rate of Rs. 3500/- for they years 2006-07 and 2007-08, which is being sought to be recovered from them on the basis of the impugned order at Annexure A-1. A perusal of the order dated 9.2.2009 indicates that it Contains no reasons for stoppage of Ad hoc bonus to GDS employees or for that matter recovery such amount paid to them for the year 2006-07 and 2007-08. All that the impugned order says is that orders of Ministry of Finance dated 10.10.2008 relating to revised calculation ceiling are applicable to eligible Central government departmental employees only. It no where says that GDES employees are not entitled to receive ad hoc bonus and that the payment already made to them is to be recovered. Rather, they are covered under the Ministry of Finance order dated 10.10.2008 where by calculation ceiling in respect of employees and covered under the PLB, has also
been revised from Rs.2500 to 3500. We, therefore, see no justification for making recovery of ad hoc bonus paid to the applicants or not paying them ad hoc bonus as usual. In view of judgment of the Apex court in Kameshwar Prasad's case (supra), it needs no mention that the EDDAs or GDS employees are government servants holding civil post under Union of India and they are entitled to protection of Article 311(2) of the Constitution. In view of above discussion, the OA is allowed and the applicants are held entitled to grant of ad hoc bonus for the years 2006-07 and 2007-08 at the revised calculation ceiling mentioned in the order dated 10.10.08 (A-5). Recovery, if any, of the said amount made from the applicants should be refunded to them immediately and in any case not later than within on month form the date of receipt of a copy of this order. No costs. (KHUSHIRAM) (SHYAMA DOGRA) MEMBER (A) MEMBER (J)