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Pay pension or no pay
- Judge asks state to withhold official salary for delay

Calcutta, Aug. 31: A Calcutta High Court judge has used the threat of withholding salaries as a tool to ensure the payment of pension to a retired headmaster — and it appears to be working.

Swapan Kumar Sarkar, who was the headmaster of Diara Chainpur Primary School at Kharba in Malda, retired on January 31, 2011. Since then, he has been running from pillar to post for his pension. But his efforts yielded no result.

In early August, a frustrated Sarkar moved Calcutta High Court and narrated his plight to the judge, Justice Debashis Kargupta.

Sarkar said he had met the district’s inspector of schools and the chairman of the Malda primary school council but they proved to be of no help and merely told him that his papers had been forwarded to the education department.

Justice Kargupta asked the director of school education and the director of pension and provident fund to appear before him on August 23 and explain why they had so far failed to disburse Sarkar’s pension.

On August 23, both directors appeared before Justice Kargupta and said they had been unable to clear Sarkar’s papers because of pending work.

Sarkar’s lawyer Zaminul Alam told The Telegraph: “The two directors told the court that there was a lot of work pressure, which was leading to the delay in processing my client’s papers.”

The judge, however, was in no mood to accept the argument and passed an order directing the state government to withhold the salaries of the two directors till the disbursal of Sarkar’s pension.

Today, the two directors came to court and informed Justice Kargupta that they had processed Sarkar’s papers the day after being directed to do so and sent them to the Malda district treasury officer.

Justice Kargupta asked Alam if Sarkar had received his pension. Alam replied in the negative. The judge instructed the government to withhold the salary of the Malda district treasury officer till Sarkar got his pension.

While passing the order, Justice Kargupta said: “The state should be more sympathetic towards teachers who retire after serving for long. Often the courts find that the pension and other statutory dues are not paid on time. This is not desirable. The court should take stern steps in these cases.”

The court on several occasions gives orders in similar cases that the pensions of teachers be paid on time but they are ignored by the government, the judge said.

“The state is not paying enough attention,” Justice Kargupta said. “So the court will now have to find other ways of making sure its instructions are followed. If the salaries of departmental heads are stopped, then the matter will come under control.”

The judge said he was keenly following the progress of Sarkar’s case and that he would hear the case again on September 4 to see whether the retired headmaster had started receiving his pension.

“I am not disposing of the matter,” Justice Kargupta said. “I will hear the case again on September 4.”