Mumbai: Retired officer finally gets Rs 20 lakh dues from SCI

Updated: Oct 18, 2018, 08:38 IST | Vinod Kumar Menon | Mumbai

As per records, Raja Basu, retired from his job on May 11, 2017, so therefore until now, he is entitled to receive interest of 17 months, to be calculated at the very least 12 per cent per annum

Bombay High Court
Bombay High Court

Moving forward in his fight to win back his hard-earned money, former Shipping Corporation of India (SCI) assistant general manager Raja Basu will be filing a fresh petition in the Bombay High Court over non-payment of interest on his gratuity amount of Rs 20 lakh. While Basu received the basic amount in his account on October 11, the interest has still not been paid.

On September 17, mid-day reported about the rigmarole Basu was being put through in 'Retired officer turns to HC for his dues, again'. The report mentioned how the assistant labour commissioner (central) had not released Basu's gratuity payment. Four days after mid-day's report, even before the matter could come on board, a hearing was conducted and the assistant labour commissioner (central) heard both SCI and Basu, before finally clearing the payment order, in a two-page handwritten order (mid-day has a copy).

No interest
But there's a catch. Basu's lawyer, Rajeshwar Panchal said, "We did not pursue the matter in High Court, as the labour officer concerned heard both parties and passed an order on September 21, and almost three weeks later, Basu received the payment, which was only the principal amount. No interest was paid on the said amount, as per the norms.”

According to Panchal, "As per section 7(3)(A) of the Payment of Gratuity Act, Basu is entitled for a interest payable over and above the principal sum as per the interest rates fixed by the government from time to time. As per records, Basu, retired from his job on May 11, 2017, so therefore until now, he is entitled to receive interest of 17 months, to be calculated at the very least 12 per cent per annum, for which we will be filing a petition in the high court soon."

Basu said, "I will continue to fight my legal battle until the accused employers are punished and I'm compensated with my rightful money, with interest. I'll do this so that no other government employee suffers the way I did for being a whistleblower who raised concerns about misuse of public money by those in powerful positions."

Entitled to sum
Meanwhile, Panchal also chanced upon some shortcomings within the Act while arguing Basu's matter. Upon being asked to elaborate, he said, "As per section 9 of the said Act, any employer avoiding to make payment of gratuity can be punished for up to two years and fined up to Rs 20,000. However section 11 of the same Act also states that no court can take cognizance of such an offence [Section 9] under the act, unless the complaint is made by the government."

Panchal added, "This means that under the above norms, the actual victim has no right to seek justice and their fundamental rights under Articles 14 and 21 of Constitution, which gives then access to justice, are itself in danger due to provision of Article 11. Hence, another petition will be moved to challenge the validity of Article 11."

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