Today, while hearing the case related to the disbursal of pension arrears under the OROP (One Rank One Pension) scheme, the Supreme Court of India refused to accept the sealed cover note. The note was submitted by the Central Government. During the hearing of the case, the Attorney general for India R Venkatramani submitted a sealed cover note before the CJI. The bench refused to accept it whereas CJI asked the Attorney General for India to share the note with the Senior Advocate representing the ex-servicemen (Huzefa Ahmadi). The AG refused to share, “It is confidential”.
On a contrary, CJI DY Chandrachud said, “I am personally averse to sealed covers. What happens is, we see something, he does not see. And we decide the case without showing it to him. This is fundamentally contrary to the judicial process. There cannot be secrecy in the Court. The Court has to be transparent. Secrecy, it is understandable in a case diary…the accused is not entitled to it, or something which affects the source of information or affects somebody’s life. But this is a payment of pension in pursuance of directions in our judgment. What can be great secrecy in this?” AG then argued that there are some issues of sensitivity. In this context, CJI DY Chandrachud said, “We need to put an end to this sealed cover procedure which is being followed in the Supreme Court because then the High Courts will also be following it and this is fundamentally contrary to the basic process of fair justice.”
In addition, the Supreme Court stated that the Union Government has proposed that 4 lakhs do not qualify for the OROP scheme out of 25 lakhs. The total number of pensioners who are to be paid under the OROP scheme comes in the range of 21 lakhs, out of which 6 lakhs were taken by the Union to pay their dues entirely. The selection of 6 lakhs will be made on the basis of families who lost the breadwinners and the gallantry award winners. They will be paid in one instalment on or before 30th April. Moreover, the Court highlighted that the Union proposed to pay the dues of pensioners above 70 years within a limit of 4-5 months. The rest of the arrears will be paid by March 2024 in three instalments.
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