In a rare case, the secretariat of Rajya Sabha faced the wrath of the High Court of Delhi for consuming up its precious time in its attempts to recover a paltry sum from a former employee for over a decade. An exemplary cost of Rs 1 lakh was imposed by the Delhi HC for not only the loss of court’s time but also the harassment faced by the ex-worker.
Justice Valmiki Mehta observed, “I must express my agony with the appellant, the Rajya Sabha secretariat and an arm of the legislative body of India, that it is not only the harassment of the respondent/defendant for a minor amount of Rs 39,010 but also that by through its actions the valuable judicial time of three courts, being the trail court, the first appellate court as also this court, has been completely wasted.
Penalties imposed by the Delhi High Court:
” Out of the Rs1 lakh imposed as cost, the court directed that a sum of Rs 50,000 be paid to the former employee, PS Verma.
The Delhi HC then directed that the person from who the secretariat had seeked advice to pursue and persist with the legal action on his ex- employee must donate `50,000 to Bharat Ke Veer, an initiative to help the family of central armed polices forces personnel who die serving the nation.
An affidavit was sought by the HC in this regard from the secretariat.
The Delhi High Court was hearing the matter against Verma, who retired as a senior private secretary. It was claimed by the counsel of the secretariat that during the settlement of Verma’s dues, it came to light that he was overpaid Rs 39,010 on account of pension that was supposed to be deducted according to the circular from his monetary package. It told the court that when Verma was regularly reminded to deposit the over-paid amount , instead of returning back the money he claimed to have paid income tax on the amount received. A certificate was sought by him so that he could recover the excess amount of tax paid from the I-T department.
Verma through advocate KS Pathania brought before the HC that during his term of service with the Rajya Sabha secretariat, he constantly sought deduction of his pension from his monthly package, which the employer never considered.
Considering the documentary proof given by him, the court observed, “The written statement filed by the respondent displays that he has was always quite fair in the matter and asked his former employer to deduct the amount of pension from monthly package being received by him and it was only prayed by him that he would quietly refund the balance and the appellant must issue the necessary certificate so that he could be able back the excess tax paid to the income tax department.” It was also noted by the HC 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.