ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court granted the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) leave to appeal against the Islamabad High Court’s (IHC’s) verdict for further payments to the Bank’s ex-employees in accordance with the SC’s judgment dated 29-04-2004.
A two-judge bench, headed by Chief Justice Gulzar Ahmed, granted leave.
According to the SBP’s appeal, submitted through senior advocate Habib Ahmed Bhatti, the SC’s judgment sought to be enforced is dated 29-04-2004 and admittedly all payments pursuant thereto was made to the respondents (SBP ex-employees who availed Voluntary Golden Hand Shake Scheme (VGHS) offered through Personnel Department Circular No 9 dated 23-10-1997) of bank) in June 2004.
The petition allowed by the impugned judgment was filed in 2017 after a lapse of 13 years.
The High Court completely ignored this vital legal issue and proceeded to pass the impugned judgment, which is liable to be set aside on this score alone.
The SBP appeal stated that the IHC has “incorrectly” concluded that 50 percent of the payment compensation and leave encashment was withheld by the State Bank.
The High Court completely “misread” the most pertinent facts in that the after change of salary structure from basic pay and allowance to monetized salary, the calculation of the aforesaid benefits was based on 50 percent of monetised salary, which was a far higher amount than basic salary.
The respondents accepted the VGHS voluntarily and under the scheme these benefits were to be calculated on the basis of basic salary.
It was as a result of the judgments of the Supreme Court that such benefits were allowed on the basis of 50 percent of the monetised salary and these benefits were admittedly higher than the benefits payable under the VGHS.
The impugned judgment is therefore based on obvious “misreading” of the documents on record and is therefore liable to set aside on this score alone.
The respondents had opted for Voluntary Golden Hand Shake Scheme (VGHS) offered through Personnel Department Circular No 9 dated 23-10-1997.
The last date of retirement under the VGHS was 22-11-1997.
The option was opted by 1,454 employees, who were relieved on 15-12-1997.
At the time, the VGHS was introduced; the pay structure of the State Bank was based on (i) basic pay and (ii) several allowances.
Accordingly, the benefits set out in VGHS were structured on the basis of the salary structure.
Salary structure was revised with effect from 01-12- 1997 by introducing a monetized salary, whereby, the concept of basic pay and allowances was abolished and monetised salaries were refixed after merging the basic pay and all allowances.
Under this new salary structure, (i) the basic pay and all allowances/perquisites were merged, and (ii) an overall increase up to 50 percent was allowed to determine the monetized salary of an employee.
The minimum-maximum range of the monetized salary structure was determined almost four times higher than the minimum and maximum range of the old basic pay structure.
The dues of all 1,454 retirees were paid in accordance with VGHS in 1997 and the respondents received accordingly without any reservation.
However, later on a number of such retirees/ex-employees including the respondent filed appeals before the Federal Service Tribunal, which were dismissed.
The respondents approached the apex court, which through a verdict dated 29-04-2004 stated; “pensionary benefits/retirement benefits” shall be paid to the petitioners by calculating all the retirement/financial benefits of on the basis of last pay drawn after treating the date of retirement as 15.12.1997.”
The appeal said that the SBP complying with the SC judgment paid additional amounts to the employees.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021