LAHORE  -  Retired judges of the Lahore High Court from now onward will get proportionate pension at the rate of 17.5 per cent per annum for each year of service with the high court.

An LHC full bench headed by Justice Shams Mahmood Mirza and comprising Justice Shahid Karim and Justice Jawad Hassan recently gave the judgment on a petition moved by ex-judge Rauf Ahmad Sheikh and others against Accountant General of Punjab.

Advocate Mahmood A Sheikh was the lead counsel in petitions seeking directions from the Lahore High Court for the respondents to fix the pension of the petitioners.

A deputy attorney general, representing secretary of law and justice, submitted a written statement, giving details of the pension package to the retired judges of the high court.

The report submitted by the law officer said “The permanent judges under Section 474 (b) of CSR are entitled to receive proportionate pension at the rate of 17.5 per cent per annum for each year of service and the period of service above 6 months is to be reckoned as one year of service of pension.  The retired judges from the district judiciary, in addition to their pension as a judge of high court shall also receive 2 per cent extra pension for each completed year of service of Pakistan. The maximum pension not exceeding 70 per cent of salary payable to a judge,”.

After the written assurance by the Secretary law and justice, the counsel for the petitioners is satisfied  with the pension package mentioned in the written statement and has no objection if the petitions are disposed of in view thereof.

The judgment held that the above mentioned pension package shall also ensure to the benefit of all those retired judges of this court who are not parties before the full bench and to whom this package is applicable.

Justice (retd)  Mian Saeed ur Rehman Farrukh, one of the petitioners, was appointed on August 28, 1992 for a period of two years. He was then appointed again on Oct 10, 1996 to July 31, 1998 with the total length of period of service coming to three years, nine months and twenty, one days, which period shall be reckoned for the purpose of pension.

It may be recalled that in the past, the judges have been expressing worry about the raise in their pension, without naming any specific judge, there are reports that they have been crying for rationalization of their pension as in some cases they were quite at a loss due to termination of services or when they were retired even before their confirmation.

Moreover, their pension also regulates their entitlement to under the salaries and allowances Act.  This judgment has not only streamlined the pension system of the high court judges but also has got them rid of long outstanding worry.

It may also be mentioned here that pension of the judges is not governed by the Civil Services Act or any change in their pension amount comes about through the annual increase announced in the budget at the end of every fiscal year. They have their independent system which regulates the salaries, perks and privileges and pension affairs. In this context, the decision has also ironed out lacuna which earlier existed about the pensions and other benefits to the judges.

The bitter reality is that pension is not paid timely to the retired officers of the civil services who served this country and they ran from pillar to post to get justice regarding payments of their pension. The retired aged-officers face huge troubles as they are asked to go to different places to get their pension amounts every month and many of them even can’t walk.

On July 28, 2018, an aged pensioner appeared before Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar and pleaded  that the banks were creating troubles for him and other pensioners in the name of verification. Those who struggled got their pensions but the banks now were forcing them for verification. “I’m here and I’m alive, so what is verification for,” the pensioner told the court.

At this, the CJP remarked: “I know people are asked to go to the Supreme Court to get pension,”. A lawyer representing the bank assured the top court that the matter of pension would be resolved very soon.

According to a report submitted before the Supreme Court last month, Rs 30.2 billion is being paid to the railways’ retired employees as a pension annually. 

 In April, 2016, the Lahore High Court ordered the Punjab government to ensure payment of double pension arrears to the petitioners got retired 15 years ago, and gave one year period to the government authorities for payment.

Advocate Safdar Pirzada told the court that 27 pensioners had already died during the pendency of the case and more may lose their lives while waiting arrears for a year. The counsel, in his arguments, requested the bench not to give one-year time to the government for payment of arrears.

Later, the Punjab finance department submitted pension payment plan to the court.

 

FIDA HUSSNAIN