Reached Daily Limit?

Explore a new way of legal research!

Click Here
Indian Case Summary

Krishena Kumar And Anr. Etc. Etc vs Union Of India And Ors on 13 July, 1990 – Case Summary

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

In the case of Krishena Kumar And Anr. Etc. Etc vs Union Of India And Ors on 13 July, 1990, the Supreme Court of India was presented with a dispute involving retired railway employees who had opted for the Railway Contributory Provident Fund Scheme. This case was presided over by a bench consisting of Justices Mukharji, Sabyasachi (CJ), Ray, B.C. (J), Kania, M.H., Saikia, K.N. (J), and Agrawal, S.C. (J).

Facts of the Case

The petitioners were retired railway employees who had chosen the Railway Contributory Provident Fund Scheme over the Pension Scheme introduced in 1957. The Pension Scheme replaced the Provident Fund Scheme, automatically covering employees who entered Railway service on or after April 1, 1957. However, employees already in service at that time were given the option to either retain the Provident Fund benefits or switch to the pensionary benefits. The petitioners had opted for the Contributory Provident Fund Scheme.

The petitioners argued that at the time of their choice, both the pensionary benefits and the alternative Contributory Provident Fund benefits were considered more or less equally beneficial. However, they contended that subsequent liberalizations of pensions significantly increased the benefits for pension retirees, while the benefits for Provident Fund retirees (like the petitioners) remained stagnant.

Issues Raised

The petitioners contended that the Railways had issued twelve notifications giving certain Provident Fund retirees the option to switch to the Pension Scheme even after their retirement. However, the same options were not given to other similarly situated Provident Fund retirees beyond the respective cut-off dates. The petitioners argued that this was discriminatory and violated Article 14 of the Constitution of India.

The petitioners further contended that the notifications specifying cut-off dates were arbitrary and unrelated to the objectives sought to be achieved by giving the option. They argued that this was also violative of Article 14 and the principle laid down in Nakara’s case.

Court’s Observations

The court observed that the doctrine of precedent, that is, being bound by a previous decision, is limited to the decision itself and what is necessarily involved in it. The court noted that the policy of courts is to stand by precedent and not to disturb a settled point.

The court further observed that the rules governing the Provident Fund and its contribution are entirely different from the rules governing the pension. Therefore, it would not be reasonable to argue that what is applicable to the pension retirees must also equally be applicable to Provident Fund retirees.

The court also noted that the Railway Contributory Provident Fund is by definition a fund. The Government’s obligation towards an employee under the Contributory Provident Fund Scheme to give the matching contribution begins as soon as his account is opened and ends with his retirement. On the other hand, under the Pension Scheme, the Government’s obligation does not begin until the employee retires and it continues till the death of the employee.

Decision of the Court

The court dismissed the writ petitions and the Special Leave Petition, holding that the Provident Fund retirees could not be treated at par with the living pensioners. There was, therefore, no discrimination, and the question of striking down or reading down clause 3.1 of the 12th option did not arise. The court also found that the cut-off dates were not arbitrarily chosen but had a nexus with the purpose for which the option was given.