State of Maharashtra vs Bhagwan

State of Maharashtra vs Bhagwan Supreme Court Case 2022

 REPORTABLE

IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

CIVIL APPEAL NOS. 7682-7684 OF 2021

The State of Maharashtra & Anr. …Appellant(s)

Versus

Bhagwan & Ors. …Respondent(s)

WITH

CIVIL APPEAL NOS. 7685-7687 OF 2021

The State of Maharashtra & Ors. …Appellant(s)

Versus

Sudhakar Namdeo Gaikwad & Ors. Etc. Etc. …Respondent(s)

AND

CIVIL APPEAL NOS. 7688-7690 OF 2021

The State of Maharashtra & Anr. …Appellant(s)

Versus

Uttam & Ors. Etc. Etc. …Respondent(s)

J U D G M E N T

M.R. SHAH, J.

1. Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied with the impugned common

judgment and order passed by the High Court of Judicature at Bombay

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dated 20.07.2018 passed in Writ Petition No.748 of 2014 and other

connected writ petitions by which the High Court has allowed the said

writ petitions and has directed the State Government to extend the

pensionary benefits to the employees of Water and Land Management

Institute, the State of Maharashtra and another have preferred the

present appeals. The State preferred review applications which came to

be dismissed.


2. That Water and Land Management Institute (hereinafter referred to

as “WALMI”) is a society registered under the Societies Registration Act,

1860, which has its own Memorandum of Association. WALMI is being

administered by its Governing Council. WALMI is an autonomous

institution governed by its own Rules and Regulations. WALMI came

into existence in the year 1980 under the World Bank Project of the

Irrigation Department. The funds and properties of the Society and their

entire management vests in the Governing Council. The main objects

for which the Society has been formed are as under:-

“(a) With a view to promoting advancement of science

and acquisition of scientific knowledge to provide

instructions and training in all branches of science

both theoretical and applied and in particular in

Water Management and Land Development for

Irrigation and agriculture.

(b) To establish an institution for imparting instructions

and training and conducting research in Water

Management and Land Development for irrigation

and agriculture.

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(c) To prescribe courses for instruction and training in

Water Management and Land Development for

irrigation and agriculture and hold examinations and

grant certificates, diplomas etc.

(d) To seek affiliation of the said institute with Universities

and other appropriate academic bodies both in India

and abroad and to obtain recognition of the said

courses conducted at the said institute and for the

said examinations conducted by the Institute and

diplomas, certificates, etc., granted by the Institute.

(e) To provide consultancy service to the Government

Local Bodies and other organisations in water

management and land development for irrigation

and agriculture.

(f) To undertake research and conduct experiments in

various aspects of water management and land

development arid to collaborate with other similar

organisations for research and development.

(g) To send within the country and abroad for

specialised training in Water Management and Land

Development for irrigation and agriculture person

including members of staff of the said Institute and

bear and pay the costs of such training.

(h) To start, conduct, print, publish and exhibit any

magazines, periodicals, newspapers, books,

pamphlets or posters that may be considered

desirable for the promotion of the objects of the

Society.

(i) To invest and deal with the funds of the Society.

(j) To make rules and bye-laws for the conduct of the

affairs of the society and Institute and from time to

time add, to amend, vary or rescind them.

(k) Make donations to such persons or institutions

whether of cash or any other assets, as may be, that

are directly or indirectly conducive to any of the

Society's objects, or otherwise expedient and in

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particular, to remunerate any person or corporations

introducing, or assisting the Society.

(l) establish and support or aid the establishment of,

and support associations, institutions, societies,

funds, trusts and conveniences for the benefit of the

employees of ex-employees or persons having

connections of such person and in particular friendly

or other benefit of societies and to grant pension,

allowances, gratuities, either by way of annual

payments, or by way of lump sum and to make

payments towards insurance to form and contribute

to provident and benefit funds to or for such

persons.

(m) Generally to do and execute all such other acts,

matters and things as are incidental or conductive to

or necessary for attainment of the above objects or

any of them.”

2.1 The Governing Council in its meeting held on 11.08.1980 framed

the WALMI Establishment Rules, 1980, which provided the service

conditions including certain allowances to be paid to its employees. It

was provided in the said Rules that the Service Rules made by the

Government of Maharashtra for its employees (as may be

amended/modified from time to time) shall apply to the employees of the

Institute unless they are repugnant to the Rules made or may be made

by the Institute. It is specifically provided that Government Rules for

Pension, Provident Fund and Gratuity shall not, however, apply. The

Governing Council in its 41st meeting held on 31.01.1995 reiterated that

the Governing Council has made the Establishment / Service Rules of

the Government of Maharashtra applicable to WALMI except the Rules

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for Pension, Provident Fund and Gratuity. It was also mentioned that the

Contributory Provident Fund Rules framed by WALMI have been made

applicable. Grant of pensionary benefits to the employees of the Grantin-aid Institutes/Corporation etc. came to be discussed in the meeting of

the Cabinet Ministers held on 30.01.1997. After due deliberation, the

Cabinet approved the proposal to the effect that no pensionary benefits

should be granted to the employees working in the Institute receiving

Grant-in-aid, Corporations etc.

2.2 But thereafter, the Governing Council of WALMI in its 44th meeting

held on 13.08.1997 resolved to send proposal to the Government to

grant pensionary benefits to the employees of WALMI. The then

Director General of WALMI issued a communication dated 12.10.2000 to

the Secretary, Irrigation Department and gave his opinion in affirmative

for grant of pensionary benefits to the employees of WALMI. But the

Government of Maharashtra through its Finance Department issued a

resolution dated 31.10.2005 and introduced a new Contributory Pension

Scheme for the Government servants who are recruited on or after

01.11.2005 in the State Government service. On 08.11.2005, the State

Government through its Finance Department issued another resolution

and resolved that the employees serving in Grant-in-aid Institutes,

Mandals, Corporations etc. are not entitled for grant of pensionary

benefits and the Pension Rules shall not be made applicable to them.

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2.3 Again, the Director General of WALMI issued a communication

dated 06.02.2008 to the Secretary, Irrigation Department and prayed for

grant of pensionary benefits to the employees of WALMI. By

communication dated 12.07.2012, the Finance Department of the State

Government again reiterated that the employees of WALMI are not

entitled for pensionary benefits and the Contributory Provident Fund

shall not be applicable to them.

2.4 Hence some of the employees of WALMI filed a Writ Petition

No.1507 of 2012 before the High Court of Judicature at Bombay,

Aurangabad Bench. The High Court directed the State to take a

decision on the proposal dated 06.02.2008 within a period of six months.

Vide communication dated 05.03.2013, the State Government informed

that the request for grant of pensionary benefits to the employees of

WALMI has been rejected.

2.5 Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied with the communication dated

05.03.2013, rejecting the proposal/request for grant of pensionary

benefits to the employees of WALMI, the employees/ex-employees of

WALMI preferred the present writ petitions before the High Court and

prayed to direct the State Government to grant pensionary benefits,

which are available to the State Government employees, also to the

employees of WALMI.

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2.6 That by the impugned common judgment and order, the High

Court has allowed the writ petitions and has quashed and set aside the

communication dated 05.03.2013 of the State Government refusing to

extend the pensionary benefits to the employees of WALMI and

consequently has directed to extend pensionary benefits to the

employees of WALMI, with arrears w.e.f. 06.05.2013. While allowing the

writ petitions, the High Court has observed that the amount available

with WALMI and deposited with E.P.F. towards the employee's

contribution itself is sufficient to meet the financial liability of the

pensionary benefits to employees and that there does not appear to be

any reasonable basis for the State Government to refuse to extend the

benefit of pension to the retired employees of WALMI. The High Court

has also further observed that as the WALMI institute essentially

performs educational and research activities and receives 100% grant

from the State Government, that the service conditions of employees are

regulated by Maharashtra Civil Services Rules and that the employees

have been from time to time extended the benefits of wage, pay scale

revision on par with the Government employees. That the employees

are being paid out of the Consolidated Fund of the State Government

and hence there is no justification to treat the employees of the WALMI

differently than that of the State Government employees. Observing so,

the High Court has observed and held that the denial of pensionary

7

benefits to the employees of WALMI would be discriminatory and

violative of the principle of equality guaranteed under Article 14 of the

Constitution of India.

2.7 Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied with the impugned common

judgment and order passed by the High Court directing the State to

extend the pensionary benefits to the employees of the WALMI, the

State of Maharashtra through the Secretary, Irrigation Department and

Finance Department have preferred the present appeals.

3. Shri Tushar Mehta, learned Solicitor General assisted by Shri

Sachin Patil has appeared on behalf of the appellants and Shri J.N.

Singh, learned counsel has appeared on behalf of the respondents -

original writ petitioners.

4. Shri Tushar Mehta, learned Solicitor General appearing on behalf

of the State of Maharashtra has vehemently submitted that in the facts

and circumstances of the case, the High Court has committed a grave

error in quashing and setting aside the conscious decision taken by the

State Government not to extend the pensionary benefits to the

employees of WALMI. It is submitted that the High Court has failed to

appreciate that the WALMI is an autonomous body and a Society

registered under the provisions of the Societies Registration Act, 1860

8

and is an independent entity governed by its own Rules and

Regulations. It was therefore submitted that the employees of WALMI

cannot be put to par with the State Government employees.

4.1 It was further submitted that under the Service Rules applicable to

the employees of WALMI, as such, there is no provision for

pension/pensionary benefits. It was submitted that under the Rules and

as per the decision taken by the Governing Council, only Gratuity Rules

applicable to the State Government employees are made applicable.

4.2 It was further submitted by Shri Mehta, learned Solicitor General

appearing on behalf of the State that as such when a conscious decision

had been taken by the State Government after due deliberations, it can

be said to be a policy decision and it was decided that the Pension

Rules applicable to the State Government employees shall not be made

applicable to the employees of WALMI and therefore they are not

entitled to the pensionary benefits, the High Court ought not to have

interfered with such a policy decision in exercise of powers under Article

226 of the Constitution of India.

4.3 It is further submitted by Shri Mehta, learned Solicitor General that

WALMI is an independent autonomous body, a Society registered under

the Societies Registration Act and the administration and management

9

vest with its Governing Council. It was submitted that the employees of

WALMI are governed by its own Service Rules, which specifically

prohibits the pensionary benefits to its employees and only Gratuity

Rules are made applicable and, therefore, the employees of the WALMI

cannot be put at par with the Government employees.

4.4 It is submitted that even otherwise, whether to grant and/or extend

the pensionary benefits to the employees of the WALMI, which is an

autonomous body, is a policy decision, which was not required to be

interfered with by the High Court in exercise of powers under Article 226

of the Constitution of India. It is submitted that to interfere with such a

policy decision would not be permissible while exercising powers under

Article 226 of the Constitution of India. Heavy reliance was placed upon

a decision of this Court in the case of T.M. Sampath and Ors. Vs.

Secretary, Ministry of Water Resources and Ors., (2015) 5 SCC 333.

It was submitted that the above was a case with respect to the

employees of National Water Development Agency (NWDA), which was

also established as a Society and which was an autonomous body. The

employees of the NWDA claimed pensionary benefits on par with the

Central Government employees claiming parity between them. This

Court observed and held that the principle of parity shall be inapplicable

to employees of NWDA since NWDA cannot be treated as an

instrumentality of the State under Article 12 of the Constitution of India

10

merely on the basis that its funds are granted by the Central

Government. It was submitted that a claim for equality can be made

when there is discrimination by the State between two similarly situated

persons. It was further observed that discrimination cannot be invoked

in cases where discrimination sought to be shown is between acts of two

different authorities functioning as State under Article 12 of the

Constitution.

4.5 Relying upon the decision of this Court in the case of State of

Kerala and Anr. Vs. Naveena Prabhu and Ors., (2009) 3 SCC 649, it

was submitted by Shri Mehta, learned Solicitor General that in financial

matters Court would abstain from issuing directions having financial

implications. It was submitted that the Court would not generally interfere

with a Government’s policy decision.

4.6 It was further urged that in the present case, the High Court has

not at all considered the financial implications on extending the

pensionary benefits to the employees of WALMI. It is submitted that the

High Court has not at all considered and appreciated the additional

financial burden, which will be recurring, if the pensionary benefits are

extended to the employees of the WALMI.

11

4.7 It was submitted by Shri Tushar Mehta, learned Solicitor General

of India that as held by this Court in a catena of decisions, whether to

grant a particular service benefit like pension etc. should be left to the

employer as it will have a financial implication. Reliance was placed on

the decisions of this Court in the cases of Secretary, Finance

Department and others Vs. West Bengal Registration Service

Association and others, 1993 Supp (1) SCC 153; State of Bihar and

others Vs. Bihar Secondary Teachers Struggle Committee, Munger

and others, (2019) 18 SCC 301; and Punjab State Cooperative Milk

Producers Federation Limited and another Vs. Balbir Kumar Walia

and others, (2021) 8 SCC 784.

4.8 Thus, making the above submissions and relying upon the above

decisions, it was prayed to allow the present appeal.

5. Learned counsel appearing on behalf of the respondents – original

writ petitioners while opposing the present appeals vehemently

submitted that in the facts and circumstances of the case, the High

Courts, after having been satisfied that there was no valid justification

not to extend the pensionary benefits to the employees of WALMI has

rightly directed the State to extend the pensionary benefits to the

employees of WALMI.

12

5.1 It was submitted that WALMI, right from its inception is being paid

funds from the Irrigation Department and WALMI receives Grant-in-aid

from the Government. It was submitted that the object and purpose of

WALMI is to impart training/education. Further that even the staff was

allocated by the Irrigation Department of the State. It was further

submitted that even the posts, which are allotted to WALMI are included

in the 45,297 posts available and sanctioned for the Irrigation

Department. That the posts meant for WALMI are posts on

establishment of Water Resources Department of Government of

Maharashtra and, thus, WALMI can be said to be a part of establishment

of Water Resources Department for all purposes and, therefore, the

employees of the WALMI cannot be treated differently and cannot be

extended a differential treatment in the matter of payment of pensionary

benefits. It was urged that the High Court has rightly observed that

denial of pensionary benefits to the employees of WALMI is clearly

discriminatory and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution of India.

5.2 It was further submitted that the High Court has rightly observed

that as the WALMI has sufficient funds to meet the financial burden of

pensionary benefits, therefore, there is no justification to deny the

pensionary benefits to the employees of WALMI, more particularly, when

WALMI is a Grant-in-aid Institute and is fully funded by the State

Government. It was contended that apart from the fact that WALMI

13

receives 100% grant from the State Government, the Service Conditions

of its employees are regulated by the Maharashtra Civil Services Rules

and even the employees of WALMI have been from time to time

extended the benefits of wage, pay-scale revision, on par with the State

Government employees including the fixation of time bound pay scale

and even the employees are being paid out of the Consolidated Fund of

the State Government and, therefore, there is no justification at all to

extend the differential treatment by the State Government to the

employees of WALMI by denying pensionary benefits to the employees

of WALMI.

5.3 Making the above submissions and relying upon the decisions of

this Court in the cases of Purshottam Lal and Ors. Vs. Union of India

and Anr., (1973) 1 SCC 651 and Haryana State Minor Irrigation

Tubewells Corporation and Ors. Vs. G.S. Uppal and Ors., (2008) 7

SCC 375, it was prayed to dismiss the present appeals.

6. We have thus heard the learned counsel for the respective parties

at length.

7. The short question, which is posed for consideration of this Court

is “whether the employees of the WALMI are entitled to the pensionary

benefits on par with the State Government employees?”

14

8. By the impugned common judgment and order, the High Court has

directed the State to extend the retirement benefits to the employees of

WALMI mainly on the following grounds:-

(i) that the primary functions of WALMI are educational, the

purpose of establishing the Institute is to impart training to

engineers and farmers of Maharashtra State and to provide

expert advice to the Water Resources Department,

Government of Maharashtra relating irrigation management;

(ii) that the Institute receives 100% grant from the Government

since 1993;

(iii) that the posts created on the establishment are computed

amongst the sanctioned posts of the Water Resources

Department; the control in respect of the management and

the governance rest with high-ranking officers, i.e.,

Secretaries of the Government Department;

(iv) the Regulations applicable to the Government employees

relating to disciplinary matters as well as withdrawal of

allowances like medical allowance, leave travel allowance,

regulations relating to grant of leave so also regulations

relating to disciplinary matters are uniform as in case of

Government employees;

(v) the Maharashtra Civil Services Rules are applicable to the

Government employees;

15

(vi) that the employees of WALMI have been extended the

benefit of time bound promotional scale as in case of

Government employees;

(vii) that the employees of WALMI have also received the benefit

of wage, pay scale revision made applicable to the

Government employees;

(viii) that for all practicable purposes, the employees of WALMI

are treated on par with the Government employees; the

salary and allowances payable to the employees of WALMI

are being paid out of the Consolidated Fund of the State; and

(ix) the amount available with WALMI and deposited with E.P.F.

towards the employee's contribution itself is sufficient to meet

the financial liability of the pensionary benefits to employees.

8.1 On the aforesaid grounds, the High Court has ultimately observed

and held that there does not appear to be any reasonable basis for the

State to refuse to extend the benefit of pension to the retired employees

of WALMI.

9. Having heard the learned counsel appearing for the respective

parties, we are of the opinion that none of the aforesaid grounds justify

extension of the pensionary benefits to the employees of WALMI.

16

9.1 WALMI is an independent autonomous body and a Society

registered under the Societies Registration Act, 1860. The

administration and management of the WALMI is through its Governing

Council. That WALMI has its own Rules, namely, WALMI Establishment

Rules, 1980, governing the service conditions and the benefits available

to the employees of WALMI. The WALMI Establishment Rules, 1980

provide for the benefits of travelling allowance, daily allowance, medical

reimbursement, house rent allowance etc. but however, do not provide

for pension, provident fund. Thereafter the Governing Council of WALMI

has adopted the Maharashtra Civil Services Rules except Pension

Rules. Thus, from the above, it can be seen that WALMI is an

independent autonomous entity governed by their own Rules and

Regulations and the administration and management of WALMI is being

run through/by its Governing Council. Even the State is not the

Disciplinary Authority of the employees of WALMI. That in the G.R.

dated 17.03.2006, it is stated that in WALMI 170 posts are created on

temporary establishment. However, it may be true that posts created in

the WALMI are included in the total sanctioned number of posts in the

Water Resources Department. However, in the said G.R. it is specifically

observed that WALMI is an autonomous institution of the Government

and 214 posts are sanctioned on fixed temporary establishment and 168

posts on converted temporary establishment. It further provides that as

the posts are person-wise on the converted temporary establishment,

17

the posts shall be abolished automatically, if the person retires or resigns

or becomes vacant in any other way. It further provides that WALMI is an

autonomous institution, the staff of it cannot be transferred anywhere.

9.2 It is required to be noted that as such the Government vide G.R.

dated 08.11.2005 specifically took a policy decision that the employees

of aided institutes, boards, corporations, who are not governed by

Maharashtra Civil Services (Pension) Rules, 1982, shall not be made

applicable to such institutions. Even the proposal made by the then

Director of WALMI to extend the pensionary benefits to the employees of

WALMI came to be rejected by the State Government. Neither the G.R.

dated 08.11.2005 nor the decision of the State Government refusing to

extend the pensionary benefits to the employees of WALMI are

challenged.

10. In view of the above factual scenario, the question posed is:

“whether the employees of WALMI, which is an

independent autonomous entity registered under the

Societies Registration Act, are entitled to the pensionary

benefits on par with the State Government employees?”

10.1 While answering the aforesaid question, few decisions of this

Court on the inference of the Courts in the policy decision having

18

financial implications and whether the employees of the board/societies,

who are autonomous bodies can claim parity in the pay-scale and/or

other benefits which may be available to the Government employees,

are required to be considered.

10.2 In the case of T.M. Sampath and Ors. Vs. Secretary, Ministry of

Water Resources and Ors. (supra), the employees of National Water

Development Agency (NWDA), an autonomous body under the aegis

and control of Ministry of Water Resources claimed the pensionary

benefits on par with the Central Government employees. Refusing to

allow such pensionary benefits to the employees of NWDA on par with

the Central Government employees, in paragraphs 16 and 17, it was

observed and held as under:-

“16. On the issue of parity between the employees of

NWDA and Central Government employees, even if it is

assumed that the 1982 Rules did not exist or were not

applicable on the date of the OM i.e. 1-5-1987, the

relevant date of parity, the principle of parity cannot be

applicable to the employees of NWDA. NWDA cannot be

treated as an instrumentality of the State under Article 12

of the Constitution merely on the basis that its funds are

granted by the Central Government. In Zee Telefilms

Ltd. v. Union of India [(2005) 4 SCC 649], it was held by

this Court that the autonomous bodies having some

nexus with the Government by itself would not bring them

within the sweep of the expression “State” and each case

must be determined on its own merits. Thus, the plea of

the employees of NWDA to be treated on a par with their

counterparts in the Central Government under sub-rule

(6)(iv) of Rule 209 of the General Financial Rules, merely

on the basis of funding is not applicable.

19

17. Even if it is presumed that NWDA is “State” under

Article 12 of the Constitution, the appellants have failed to

prove that they are on a par with their counterparts, with

whom they claim parity. As held by this Court in UT,

Chandigarh v. Krishan Bhandari [(1996) 11 SCC 348], the

claim to equality can be claimed when there is

discrimination by the State between two persons who are

similarly situated. The said discrimination cannot be

invoked in cases where discrimination sought to be

shown is between acts of two different authorities

functioning as State under Article 12. Thus, the

employees of NWDA cannot be said to be “Central

Government employees” as stated in the OM for its

applicability.”

As per the law laid down by this Court in a catena of decisions, the

employees of the autonomous bodies cannot claim, as a matter of right,

the same service benefits on par with the Government employees.

Merely because such autonomous bodies might have adopted the

Government Service Rules and/or in the Governing Council there may

be a representative of the Government and/or merely because such

institution is funded by the State/Central Government, employees of

such autonomous bodies cannot, as a matter of right, claim parity with

the State/Central Government employees. This is more particularly,

when the employees of such autonomous bodies are governed by their

own Service Rules and service conditions. The State Government and

the Autonomous Board/Body cannot be put on par.

20

10.3 In the case of Punjab State Cooperative Milk Producers

Federation Limited and Anr. Vs. Balbir Kumar Walia and Ors., (2021)

8 SCC 784, in paragraph 32, it is observed as under:-

“32. The Central or State Government is empowered to

levy taxes to meet out the expenses of the State. It is

always a conscious decision of the Government as to how

much taxes have to be levied so as to not cause

excessive burden on the citizens. But the Boards and

Corporations have to depend on either their own

resources or seek grant from the Central/ State

Government, as the case may be, for their expenditures.

Therefore, the grant of benefits of higher pay scale to the

Central/State Government employees stand on different

footing than grant of pay scale by an instrumentality of

the State.”

10.4 As per the settled proposition of law, the Court should refrain from

interfering with the policy decision, which might have a cascading effect

and having financial implications. Whether to grant certain benefits to

the employees or not should be left to the expert body and undertakings

and the Court cannot interfere lightly. Granting of certain benefits may

result in a cascading effect having adverse financial consequences.

10.5 In the present case, WALMI being an autonomous body, registered

under the Societies Registration Act, the employees of WALMI are

governed by their own Service Rules and conditions, which specifically

do not provide for any pensionary benefits; the Governing Council of

WALMI has adopted the Maharashtra Civil Services Rules except the

Pension Rules. Therefore, as such a conscious policy decision has

21

been taken not to adopt the Pension Rules applicable to the State

Government employees; that the State Government has taken such a

policy decision in the year 2005 not to extend the pensionary benefits to

the employees of the aided institutes, boards, corporations etc.; and the

proposal of the then Director of WALMI to extend the pensionary

benefits to the employees of WALMI has been specifically turned down

by the State Government. Considering the aforesaid facts and

circumstances, the High Court is not justified in directing the State to

extend the pensionary benefits to the employees of WALMI, which is an

independent autonomous entity.

10.6 The observations made by the High court that as the salary and

allowances payable to the employees of WALMI are being paid out of

the Consolidated Fund of the State and/or that the WALMI is getting

grant from the Government are all irrelevant considerations, so far as

extending the pensionary benefits to its employees is concerned.

WALMI has to run its administration from its own financial resources.

WALMI has no financial powers of imposing any tax like a State and/or

the Central Government and WALMI has to depend upon the grants to

be made by the State Government.

10.7 Now, so far as the observations made by the High Court that the

amount available with WALMI and deposited with E.P.F. towards the

22

employee's contribution itself is sufficient to meet the financial liability of

the pensionary benefits to the employees and, therefore, there is no

justification and/or reasonable basis for the State Government to refuse

to extend the benefit of pension to the retired employees of WALMI is

concerned, it is to be noted that merely because WALMI has a fund with

itself, it cannot be a ground to extend the pensionary benefits. Grant of

pensionary benefits is not a one-time payment. Grant of pensionary

benefits is a recurring monthly expenditure and there is a continuous

liability in future towards the pensionary benefits. Therefore, merely

because at one point of time, WALMI might have certain funds does not

mean that for all times to come, it can bear such burden of paying

pension to all its employees. In any case, it is ultimately for the State

Government and the Society (WALMI) to take their own policy decision

whether to extend the pensionary benefits to its employees or not. The

interference by the Judiciary in such a policy decision having financial

implications and/or having a cascading effect is not at all warranted and

justified.

11. In view of the above discussion and for the reasons stated, the

impugned common judgment and order passed by the High Court

directing the State to extend the pensionary benefits to the employees of

WALMI is unsustainable, both in law and on facts. Accordingly, the

impugned common judgment and order passed by the High Court

23

deserves to be quashed and set aside and is accordingly quashed and

set aside. It is held that the employees of WALMI, which is an

independent autonomous body registered under the Societies Act are

not entitled to the pensionary benefits.

All these appeals are accordingly allowed. However, in the facts

and circumstances of the case, there shall be no order as to costs.

Pending application(s), if any, also stands disposed of.

………………………………….J.

 [M.R. SHAH]

NEW DELHI; ………………………………….J.

JANUARY 10, 2022. [B.V. NAGARATHNA]

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