Supreme Court’s order on the validity of a community certificate and denial of post-retirement benefits.

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While hearing the R Sundaram vs. The Tamil Nadu state-level Scrutiny Committee & Ors. case, the bench overruled the Madra High Court’s order related to the validity of a communal certificate. Also, the appeal highlighted the Appellant’s challenge to the denial of his post-retirement benefits which was dismissed by the Madras HC. The Supreme Court bench stated that “In such a scenario where the validity of a community certificate is put to question, keeping in mind the importance of the document and the effect it has on people’s rights, the proceedings questioning the document cannot, except in the most exceptional circumstances, be done ex-parte.” The case was presented before the Supreme Court bench comprising Justice Aniruddha Bose and Justice Krishna Murari.

 In this case, the appellant was appointed as a clerk-cum-shroff in the Respondent bank on the basis of a community certificate, certifying that he was from the Konda Reddy Community. After a tenure of 38 years, the Appellant retired as a Scale 3 officer, however, two days before his superannuation, he received a cessation order on grounds of his caste certificate being false. Moreover, all his retirement benefits except PF were withheld from him. During the Appellant’s tenure in the respondent bank, the District collector, without conducting any inquiry, canceled the community certificate granted to the appellant. The Appellant, aggrieved by this decision, filed Writ Petition. The High Court further ordered to remand of the matter back to the Tamil Nadu State Level Scrutiny Committee to conduct a fresh inquiry. This further did not provide the verification with regard to the communal status of the appellant and this led to the Appellant’s retirement without realization of his retirement benefits. The Appellant then preferred an SLP in the Supreme Court against the above-mentioned High Court order.

The Supreme Court while hearing the matter claimed that “Here employment is based on a fake community certificate the law is settled that post-retirement benefits cannot be granted.” The bench observed that in the present case, however, there exists a very clear difference. The top Court bench further added that “While the Respondents have claimed the Appellant’s community certificate to be fake, such a claim has not been proven. Even though two reports declaring the community certificate of the Appellant as fake were submitted after inordinate and unexplained delay, however, both the reports have not allowed the participation of the Appellant.” In this case, such a right was denied to the appellant, and hence the burden of proof on the respondents to disprove the nature of the certificate, was discharged. The bench then ordered the Respondent bank to grant all post-retirement benefits to the appellant which were denied to him along with 6% Simple Interest on account of unnecessary withholding of payment, from the date the payment was due to the date of actual payment.

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