Case BriefsHigh Courts

Armed Forces Tribunal (AFT): Justice S.V.S. Rathore (Member) and Air Marshal BBP Sinha (Member) dismissed an application by the applicant under Section 14 of the Armed Forces Tribunal Act, 2007.

The applicant was enrolled in the Army in 1984 in a medically fit condition and was invalidated out from service in 1985 in low medical category EEE by the Medical Board for “Tuberculosis Lymphadenitis” which considered the disability at 100% for a period of 2 years. The applicant was brought before Review Medical Boards in the subsequent years in which his disability was assessed at 80%, 60% and 20% and thus disability pension continued till 1993. In the year 1993, the applicant was brought before Review Medical Board and the medical board assessed the disability to be between 6 to 10% (less than 20%) for a period of 10 years and on the recommendation of the medical board, pension sanctioning authority stopped disability pension from 1993 to 2003. The next RSMB could not be carried out as the applicant did not report to the medical authority till 2008 despite repeated reminder by Records. His disability was assessed at 20% for life and accordingly, he was in receipt of the disability pension from 2008.

The applicant argues that based on the facts mentioned above, he is entitled to disability pension for the period from 1993 to 2008 also and thus, the action of the respondents stopping the disability pension of the applicant from the said dates is against the principles of natural justice.

The respondents argued that since the disability of the applicant from 1993 was re-assessed as less than 20% for 10 years by pension sanctioning and adjudicating authority (PCDA), it was stopped. The next RSMB in 2003 of the applicant was not be carried out as he did not report to the medical authority despite repeated reminders. Eventually, when the applicant reported, his disability was assessed at 20% for life and accordingly his pension was rounded off to 50% for life. Hence, the applicant is not entitled to arrears of disability pension for the period from 1993 to 2008 because his disability was less than 20% as per Regulation 173 of Pension Regulations for the Army 1961 (Part-I) and secondly for not taking any initiative to appeal, represent or appear for 2003 RSMB.

The applicant approached the Tribunal in 2017 by filing an application for grant of disability pension from 1993 to 2008. The Tribunal relied on Shiv Dass v. Union of India, (2007) 9 SCC 274 where the Supreme Court held that arrears of disability pension are restricted to three years prior to the filing of the application if the same has been filed belatedly and delay is condoned. Since the applicant approached the Tribunal after elapse of more than 11 years, he is not entitled to any arrears due to the law of limitations.[M Radha Raman Shukla v. Union of India, 2019 SCC OnLine AFT 3893, decided on 15-07-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: Devan Ramachandran, J. contemplated a writ petition under the laws and statutory prescriptions related to supply of electricity, where there was this rule that no fresh supply was to be granted to premises if its earlier owner/occupier had left unpaid arrears of charges for electric consumption. However, the Kerala Electricity Supply Code, 2014, contained a limited exception to this rule, through Regulation 40(3) thereof and it was this provision which was relied upon by the petitioner in this Writ Petition, while seeking a new electric connection from the Board.

In the instant petition, the petitioner was a Managing Partner of an industrial unit, contended that the particular area was allotted to them by District Industries Centre and before them, another unit worked their. It was further contended that a fresh KSEB was to be issued electric connection under Regulation 40(3) of the Kerala Electricity Supply Code 2014,  because under its mandate, they were obligated to give connection to the purchaser or to the new occupier of the premises, even if the previous occupier had left arrears of charges relating to electric consumption. The counsel for the petitioner, Ziyad Rahman, submitted that it was manifested that the petitioner was the new occupier, who had been allotted the premises by the KSIDC and was entitled to the benefit of Regulation 40(3) of the Supply Code.

On the other hand, Sudheer Ganesh Kumar, counsel for the KSEB, submitted that petitioner cannot claim the benefit of Regulation 40(3) of the Code because the allotment of the premises in question was made in his favour by the Industries Department under an express condition that he will pay off the entire arrears of electricity charges left unpaid by the previous occupier. Hence the petitioner was not entitled to any benefits.

The Court observed that, ineluctable from the provision of the Code, it was only when a purchaser sought a new connection that the KSEB was obligated to grant the same, on condition that the said purchaser deposited the arrears without interest, so that KSEB can recover the same from the original allottee within a period of three years; and if such recovery becomes possible, then the deposit aforementioned was to be returned to the purchaser. Obviously, therefore, this provision postulates three actors, namely, the new purchaser, KSEB and the old consumer who had left electric charges and arrears unpaid. The Court further observed that the agreement between KSEB and the petitioner, imposed liability on the petitioner entirely. Hence the petitioner was not entitled to any benefits. The Court held that, “here is a case where the petitioner concedes to be expressly responsible for paying the entire arrears of electric charges left unpaid by the old occupier; thus clearly indicating that the original consumer has no such liability left; and consequently, Regulation 40(3) of the Supply Code cannot be of any avail to him.”[Rafeek C. A v. Kerala State Electricity Board Ltd., 2019 SCC OnLine Ker 2037, decided on 14-06-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Rajasthan High Court: The Bench of Dr Pushpendra Singh Bhati, J., dismissed the petition filed for mainly amendment of the issues framed in the pleadings at a later stage.

The facts of the case were that the respondent-landlord had filed an application under Section 18(2) of the Rajasthan Rent Control Act, 2001 before the Rent Tribunal, for recovery of arrears of rent. The petitioner filed a reply to the said application under Section 18(2) of the Rajasthan Rent Control Act, 2001 and denied the existence of the landlord-tenant relationship between him and the respondent. This started the series of litigation that followed thereafter between the parties. During this, the petitioner filed an application under Section 21 of the Rent Control Act, 2001 for amendment of the issues. The petitioner also made a request to delete issues framed earlier and prayed for framing of a new issue. Also, he filed an application under Section 21 read with Section 11 of the Court Fee Act and under Order 7 Rule 11 CPC with the averment that the respondent in the rent application had although prayed for arrears of rent along with 18% interest per annum, but did not pay the appropriate court fee. The argument advanced by the respondent was that the eviction suit was filed in the year 2010 and had been going on for almost nine years, and thus, at that stage when no material change in the original pleadings were made, then permitting the petitioner to file new applications just for the purpose of delaying the proceedings was inappropriate.

The Court held that the parties were satisfied with the issues so framed at that juncture, and therefore, since no material change was reflected in the pleadings, at a belated stage, the petitioner was barred to contend that the issues need to be re-framed. The petition was thus rejected. [Umesh Jhamb v. Parkash Rani, 2019 SCC OnLine Raj 326, Order dated 12-04-2019]

Case BriefsTribunals/Commissions/Regulatory Bodies

Armed Force Tribunal (AFT): The Bench of S.V.S. Rathore, Member (J) and Air Marshall BBP Sinha, Member (A) partially allowed a petition seeking rounding-off’ of the disability pension from 20% to 50% with effect from 01-06-2000 to 31-12-2015.

In the pertinent case, the applicant was commissioned in the Army Medical Corps (AMC) in medical category SHAPE-I on 06-06-1976 and promoted to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. The applicant was superannuated on 31-05-2000 in the low medical category. The applicant is entitled to disability element and is in receipt of the benefit of rounding off and related arrears of his disability pension at 50% w.e.f. 01-01-2016 till date. The primary claim of the applicant is that he should also be given the benefits of rounding off and the related arrears w.e.f. 01-06-2000, i.e. w.e.f. the date of his discharge till 31-12-2015. The respondents contended that for cases of superannuation or normal retirement, the applicant has been extended the same benefit w.e.f. 01-01-2016.

The Tribunal while placing reliance on Shiv Dass v. Union of India, (2007) 9 SCC 274 held that the benefit of rounding off of disability pension should be granted to the applicant three years prior to filing of the present O.A. The O.A. was filed on 25-04-2018. Since the applicant has already received the benefit of rounding off of disability element for the period 01-01-2016 till date, he is entitled to receive the arrears for rounding off of disability element for the period from 25-04-2015 to 31-12-2015. Thus, the Tribunal partially allowed the petition.[Rameshwar Dayal v. Union of India, 2019 SCC OnLine AFT 927, Order dated 28-02-2019]