Delhi High Court slaps Rs 1 lakh fine on Rajya Sabha secretariat for wasting 10 years to recover Rs 39,000
The HC imposed an exemplary cost of Rs 1 lakh for not only wastage of court time but also the harassment faced by the ex-worker.
Justice Valmiki Mehta observed, "I must express my anguish with the appellant, the Rajya Sabha secretariat and an arm of the legislative body of this country, that it is not only harassing the respondent/defendant for a minor amount of Rs 39,010 but also that by its actions valuable judicial time of three courts, being the trial court, the first appellate court as also this court, has been completely wasted."
Of the Rs 1 lakh imposed as cost, the court asked that a sum of Rs 50,000 be paid to the former employee, PS Verma. It then directed that the person who had advised the secretariat to pursue and persist with the legal action must donate Rs 50,000 to Bharat Ke Veer, an initiative to help the kin of central armed polices forces personnel who die in the line of duty.
The court sought an affidavit in this regard from the secretariat. The HC was hearing the matter against Verma, who retired as a senior private secretary.
The counsel for the secretariat claimed that while settling Verma's dues, it came to light that he was overpaid Rs 39,010 on account of pension that was supposed to be deducted as per the circular from his monetary package. It told the court that when Verma was asked to deposit the over-paid amount through regular reminders, instead of giving back the money he claimed to have paid income tax on the amount received.
He sought a certificate so that he could recover the excess amount of tax paid from the I-T department. Verma through advocate KS Pathania told the court that during his course of service with the Rajya Sabha secretariat, he regularly sought deduction of his pension from his monthly package, which was never considered by his employer.
Looking at his documentary proof, the court observed, "The written statement filed by the respondent shows that he has always been very fair and asked his former employer to deduct the amount of pension from monthly package being received by him and he only prayed that he would quietly refund the balance and the appellant must issue the necessary certificate so that he could take back the excess tax paid to the income tax department."
Observing the litigation to be totally frivolous the court also noted that there is no fraud which was alleged against the respondent and, in fact, Verma himself had been asking the secretariat to take necessary corrective action, but the appellant did so only partially.
"The respondent (Verma) has now been harassed by this litigation from May 9, 2005, i.e, over 10 years and neither the trial court nor the first appellate court has awarded any costs to the respondent," said the HC.
"Therefore, though the amount claimed by the appellant is not a large amount and is only an amount of Rs 39,010, however considering the harassment to the respondent by as many as three tiers of this litigation, this appeal is dismissed with exemplary costs of rupees 1 lakh. Out of the amount of rupees 1 lakh, a sum of Rs 50,000 will be paid to the respondent and a sum of Rs 50,000 will be deposited by that person who has directed or opined filing of the present appeal. The costs of Rs 50,000 will be deposited by such person(s) with the website www.bharatkeveer. gov.in."