Union of India & Ors Vs.
Braj Nandan Singh  Insc 572 (19 October 2005)
Arijit Pasayat & Dr. Ar.
Lakshmanan Arijit Pasasyat, J.
Challenge in this appeal is to the judgment rendered by a Division Bench of
the Patna High Court holding that respondent is entitled to pension under the
Central Civil Services Pension Rules (in short the 'Rules'). The view expressed
by the Central Administrative Tribunal about the respondent's entitlement to
suspension was upheld.
The undisputed factual background is as follows:- The respondent was serving
as a temporary Sorter on being appointed by the Superintendent, Railway Mail
Service, 'U' Division, Muzaffarpur w.e.f. 14.10.1959. He was posted in the
office of SRO Sonepur. He tendered his resignation on 16.5.1977 to contest
election to Bihar Legislative Assembly.
The resignation was accepted by letter dated 17.5.1977. Long after the
resignation was accepted i.e. nearly after about two decades, the respondent
filed a representation before the Chief Post Master General, Bihar Circle,
Patna for grant of pension. The same was rejected on the ground that since the
respondent had resigned, by operation of Rule 26(1) of the Rules his past
service stood forfeited and, therefore, he was not entitled to any pension. The
decision was communicated by the Assistant Director, Bihar Circle, Patna.
An application under Section 19 of the Administrative Tribunal Act, 1985 was
filed before the Patna Bench of the Central Administrative Tribunal (in short
The Tribunal by its order dated 14.3.2001 held that the forfeiture of past
service was not sustainable in law. It was held that by operation of Rule 26
the benefit available to a retired government servant cannot be denied on the
purported ground of forfeiture of past service. It was noticed that though the
original application was filed after about 21 years from the date of acceptance
of resignation same cannot be a ground to deny the benefits. The appellants
filed a writ petition before the Patna High Court questioning correctness of
Tribunal's decision. The High Court by its order dated 17.4.2003 held that to
receive retirement benefits is a right of service which is inherent, and Rules
should not be torn out of context to deny post retirement benefits.
In support of the appeal learned counsel for the appellants submitted that
Rule 26(1) in clear terms postulates about forfeiture of past service in case
of resignation. Once the past service is forfeited the qualifying period for
receiving pension does not exist.
Therefore, the Tribunal and the High Court were not justified in their
In response, learned counsel for the respondent submitted that the
entitlement of pension flows from the Rules. There are specific provisions
under which pensionary benefits can be denied. Rule 26 cannot be pressed into
service to deny the benefits. He submitted that Rule 26(2) provides an escape
route to the forfeiture of past service.
Merely because after acceptance of resignation the employee did not take up
another appointment under Government that would not take away the right to
receive pension flowing from the Rules.
In order to appreciate rival submissions Rule 26 which is the pivotal
provision needs to be quoted. The same reads as under:
"26. Forfeiture of service on resignation (1) Resignation from a
service or post, unless it is allowed to be withdrawn in the public interest by
the Appointing Authority, entails forfeiture of past service.
(2) A resignation shall not entail forfeiture of past service if it has been
submitted to take up, with proper permission, another appointment, whether
temporary or permanent, under the Government where service qualifies."
Rule 26 as the heading itself shows relates to forfeiture of service on
resignation. In clear terms it provides that resignation from a service or a
post, unless it is allowed to be withdrawn in the public interest by the
Appointing Authority, entails forfeiture of past service.
The language is couched in mandatory terms. However, sub- rule (2) is in the
nature of an exception. It provides that resignation shall not entail
forfeiture of past service if it has been submitted to take up, with proper
permission, another appointment, whether temporary or permanent, under the
Government where service qualifies. Admittedly this is not the case in the
present appeal. Rule 5 on which great emphasis was laid down by the learned
counsel for the respondent deals with regulation of claims to pension or family
pension. Qualifying service is dealt with in Chapter III. The conditions subject
to which service qualifies are provided in Rule 14. Chapter V deals with
classes of pensions and conditions governing their grant. The effect of Rule 26
sub-rules (1) and (2) cannot be lost sight of while deciding the question of
entitlement of pension. The High Court was not justified in its conclusion that
the rule was being torn out of context. After the past service is forfeited the
same has to be excluded from the period of qualifying service. The language of
Rule 26 sub-rules (1) and (2) is very clear and unambiguous. It is trite law
that all the provisions of a statute have to be read together and no particular
provision should be treated as superfluous.
That being the position after the acceptance of resignation, in terms of
Rule 26 sub-rule (1) the past service stands forfeited. That being so, it has
to be held that for the purpose of deciding question of entitlement to pension
the respondent did not have the qualifying period of service.
There is no substance in the plea of the leaned counsel for the respondent
that Rule 26 sub-rules (1) and (2) has limited operation and does not wipe out
entitlement to pension as quantified in Rule 49. Said Rule deals with amount of
pension and not with entitlement.
It is well settled principle in law that the Court cannot read anything into
a statutory provision which is plain and unambiguous. A statute is an edict of
the Legislature. The language employed in a statute is the determinative factor
of legislative intent.
Words and phrases are symbols that stimulate mental references to referents.
The object of interpreting a statute is to ascertain the intention of the
Legislature enacting it. (See Institute of Chartered Accountants of India v.
M/s Price Waterhouse and Anr. (AIR 1998 SC 74)) The intention of the
Legislature is primarily to be gathered from the language used, which means
that attention should be paid to what has been said as also to what has not
been said. As a consequence, a construction which requires for its support,
addition or substitution of words or which results in rejection of words as
meaningless has to be avoided. As observed in Crawford v. Spooner (1846 (6)
Moore PC 1), Courts, cannot aid the Legislatures' defective phrasing of an Act,
we cannot add or mend, and by construction make up deficiencies which are left
there. (See The State of Gujarat and Ors. v. Dilipbhai Nathjibhai Patel and
Anr. (JT 1998 (2) SC 253)). It is contrary to all rules of construction to read
words into an Act unless it is absolutely necessary to do so. (See Stock v.
Frank Jones (Tiptan) Ltd. (1978 1 All ER 948 (HL). Rules of interpretation do
not permit Courts to do so, unless the provision as it stands is meaningless or
of doubtful meaning. Courts are not entitled to read words into an Act of
Parliament unless clear reason for it is to be found within the four corners of
the Act itself. (Per Lord Loreburn L.C. in Vickers Sons and Maxim Ltd. v. Evans
(1910) AC 445 (HL), quoted in Jamma Masjid, Mercara v.
Kodimaniandra Deviah and Ors.(AIR 1962 SC 847).
The question is not what may be supposed and has been intended but what has
been said. "Statutes should be construed not as theorems of Euclid".
Judge Learned Hand said, "but words must be construed with some
imagination of the purposes which lie behind them". (See Lenigh Valley
Coal Co. v. Yensavage 218 FR 547). The view was re-iterated in Union of India
and Ors. v. Filip Tiago De Gama of Vedem Vasco De Gama (AIR 1990 SC 981).
In Dr. R. Venkatchalam and Ors. etc. v. Dy. Transport Commissioner and Ors.
etc. (AIR 1977 SC 842), it was observed that Courts must avoid the danger of a
priori determination of the meaning of a provision based on their own
pre-conceived notions of ideological structure or scheme into which the
provision to be interpreted is somewhat fitted. They are not entitled to usurp
legislative function under the disguise of interpretation.
The above position was highlighted by this Court in Maulavi Hussein Haji
Abraham Umarji v. State of Gujarat and Another (AIR 2004 SC 3946).
The High Court's judgment affirming the order of the Tribunal cannot be
sustained and deserves to be set aside which we direct. The appeal is allowed
but without any order as to costs.