New Delhi: Odisha government officers, right from Dealing Assistant up to the Principal Secretary, can finally heave a sigh of relief. For, they don't have to worry anymore about losing pension and gratuity if cases are filed late in the Supreme Court and in the High Court.
The top court has modified its July 2017 order whereby all the officials were made to lose pension and gratuity benefits for the period of delay in filing cases on behalf of the state government.
Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Odisha government, convinced the Court that the officials had pulled up their socks and various steps had been taken administratively to make sure cases are filed in time.
Mehta told a bench led by Justice Kurian Joseph that in view of the serious steps taken by the state government, the court order dated July 21, 2017 could be withdrawn.
The 2017 order by the apex court had held that "the officials in the departments concerned, starting with the rank of dealing hand to the highest official in the rank of Principal Secretary, shall not be entitled to any pensionary benefits including gratuity for the said period of delay”.
It had directed that the names of all these officers shall be disclosed before the High Court or the top court, which could then decide if officers' penalty could be waived.
On being requested vehemently by the ASG, the bench withdrew its order on pension and gratuity benefits but maintained that the state government shall recover from the official concerned any loss that accrued to the public exchequer due to the delay in filing cases.
“In case the State has suffered any loss on account of any delay, the State shall proceed against the official(s) concerned and recover the loss," said the court.
In July 2017, the bench had ordered for the exemplary punishment after it came across cases after cases where Odisha government had filed appeals after long delays. There were some cases which had been dismissed by the HC on the ground of delay, but even those cases were taken to the Supreme Court with delays in filing appeal.
"Despite our orders and despite the affidavit filed before this Court, we find that there is no improvement in the system of functioning. Therefore, in public interest, we are constrained to pass this order," the bench had said last year when issued the exceptional order that affected the entire rank of employees in every department.