State of Uttar Pradesh vs Smt. Priyanka
Case Number: Civil Appeal No. 3639 OF 2022
Judges Name: Hon’ble Judges Mr. Justice M.R. Shah J, Mr. Justice B.V. Nagarathna J
Order dated: : 09/02/2023
Facts of the case:
- The original writ petitioner -wife of the deceased employee (lecturer)applied for payment of gratuity on behalf of her deceased husband, but the same was rejected on the ground that the husband of the petitioner, while in service, had not opted for retirement at the age of 60 years. The original writ petitioner therefore filed the writ appeal before the High Court being Writ Appeal No. 2211 of 2021.
- Then relying upon the earlier decision of the high court, the learned Single Judge allowed the writ petition and directed the appellants to compute the amount payable to her husband towards gratuity quantified in accordance with the relevant Government orders with the interest @ 8% p.a. from the date of filing of the application for gratuity till the amount is actually disbursed, ignoring the fact that the husband of the original writ petitioner had not opted for retirement at the age of 60 years.
- Feeling aggrieved with the judgment of the single learned judge, the Appellants filed a writ appeal to the Division Bench of the High court and it was also dismissed. Therefore, the present appeal is filed before the Supreme Court.
- The Appellant submitted that the High Court has not properly appreciated the fact that the deceased employee failed to exercise the option and therefore the benefit of death-cum-retirement gratuity cannot be sanctioned to the Respondent being heirs of the deceased employee.
- They also submitted that as per the prevailing government orders, the exercise of the option to retire at the age of 58 years (now 60 years) for availing the benefit of death-cum-retirement gratuity was a mandatory exercise. It is submitted that therefore in the absence of any option exercised by the deceased employee, the High Court has materially erred in directing the appellants to grant the benefit of death-cum- retirement gratuity to the respondent on the death of the deceased employee.
- While opposing the present appeal, learned counsel appearing on behalf of the respondent – heirs of the deceased employee has vehemently submitted that in the facts and circumstances of the case, no error has been committed by the High Court in granting the benefit of death-cum-retirement gratuity to the respondent on the death of the deceased employee.
- They also submitted that the deceased was appointed as a Lecturer on 2.7.2001 and died while in service on 11.8.2009. It is submitted that as per the Government Order dated 16.09.2009, the deceased was entitled to exercise the option to retire at the age of 60 years which was available up to 01.07.2010, however, before he could exercise the option, unfortunately, he died.
Supreme Court observed/held as follows:
- The Supreme Court held that it is required to be noted that the date of birth of the deceased was 1.7.1951. He was appointed as a Lecturer on 2.7.2001. He would have completed 60 years of his age on 30.06.2011. As per Government Order dated 16.09.2009, he would have exercised his option to retire at the age of 60 years on or before 1.7.2010, However, before he could exercise the option, unfortunately, he died. In fact, he had died even prior to the Government order. He died on 11.08.2009 whereas the Government order is dated 16.9.2009. Therefore, there was no chance for him to exercise any option at all. There is hence no merit in this appeal.
- They also stated that the High Court has rightly observed that the Respondent would be entitled to the benefit of the Government Order dated 16.9.2009 and would be entitled to the benefit of death-cum-retirement gratuity being the heirs of the deceased employee.
- The Supreme Court finally held that in view of the above and for the reasons stated above, the present appeal fails and deserves to be dismissed and is accordingly dismissed and the appeal is dismissed with a cost of Rs. 50,000/- payable by the Appellant to the Respondent within a period of four weeks from today.