A few words about Pension

S. Mohinder Singh 'Diwana' | Chief Advisor

There was a time when the employee, who remained in Government Service till superannuation, on superannuation was literally thrown out of service and was left to fend for himself and that too without any financial help. The “Word’ Pension was perhaps hardly talked of. With the passage of time, the so called Welfare British Government of India started thinking about hardship of the retirees and felt its social liability towards them. This was the inception of Pension. But this was insufficient for the retiree to keep his hearth burning. Also there was no provision for family pension. After the death of Pensioner, his wife was forced to lead a life of sufferings.

After independence, no doubt pension was in vogue but family pension was still a mirage and far from reality. After a long time, relief in the form of family pension was introduced in 1964. Still the pension and family pension was nominal and the retiree was hardly able to make both ends meet. Gradually, the pensioners, realizing their difficulties and lethargic attitude of the Government towards them started striving though in mild form for their better standard of living.

With the pressure built up by united efforts of employees as well as pensioners, Governments started thinking of some measures to compensate the retirees in a better way. The concept of pay commission was mooted and at last it became a reality. Pay Commissions were constituted by Government of India and that of different States upwardly though for the betterment of Employees/ Pensioners but inwardly it was a step to enable the employee/retiree merely to sustain his life. British Government legacy was still carried on by the Indian Rulers.

The hallmark change in Pension came with the landmark 5 judge Constitutional Bench of Hon’ble Supreme Court judgment on 17-12-1982 in the case D.S. Nakra vs Union of India (UOI). This date, 17th December has become a sacred day in the life of pensioners and is celebrated every year as ‘Pensioner’s Day’ throughout India with great zeal and fervour. On that day the problems are discussed, resolved to resolve them with renewed spirit.

Pension is not a bounty the payment of which depends on sweet will of the Government. Pension is not a compensation for the loyal service rendered in past, but it has a broader significance in that it is a measure of social and economic justice which inherits economic security in the fall of life when physical and mental process is ebbing. Corresponding in the ageing process and one is required to fall upon savings. One such saving in kind is, when you gave your best days, in the days of life to your employer, in the days of invalidity, economic security by way of periodical payment is assured.

Pension, now, is a right and its payment does not depend on the discretion of Government but is governed by rules. In other words, Pension is a social security, payment for the aged, disabled, diseased citizens made in accordance with the rules governing the social service programme of the country. Pension scheme assured that the pensioner is able to live in decency. Independence and self-respect and a standard that he/she had at the pre-retirement stage.

Before concluding, I repeat the soul of judgment in D.S. Nakra Case:

“A Pensioner scheme consistent with available sources must provide that the Pensioner would be able to live

  1. (i) Free from want, with decency, independence and self-respect and
  2. (ii) At a standard equivalent at pre-retirement level."

Now the ball is in Government court. Let the Government ponder over it and decide as how to make the lives of pensioners worth living as visualized by Hon’ble Supreme Court.

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