Ranchi, Oct. 18: Supreme Court today declined to stay the Centre’s order asking the state to pay Bihar Rs 2,584.09 crore in lieu of pension dues, but kept alive Jharkhand’s hopes of challenging the very law under which the order was passed by agreeing to hear the case.
A special bench headed by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir said Jharkhand’s plea, challenging a contentious provision of Bihar Reorganisation Act, 2000, was maintainable and set November 7 as the next date of hearing.
Senior counsel Ajit Sinha, appearing for the Jharkhand government, said that even though the apex court denied the state interim relief by not staying the Centre’s order, its fate (the order) would ultimately depend on the final ruling.
“So, we are very much hopeful to get justice when the case is heard on merit,” he said.
As of now, the state government did not have reasons to be worried. For one, said a government official, there was no deadline to pay Bihar.
“The state has three options — either to pay the amount in instalments or pay around Rs 550 crore which, in any case, we have to pay to Bihar if we work out the pension dues on the basis of population and not number of employees,” the official said requesting anonymity.
“Or else, we could simply wait for the court’s final order as there is no deadline to comply with the Centre’s directive,” he added.
The Centre, however, has warned Jharkhand that it would deduct the amount from central grants if it refused to pay up.
Jharkhand has dubbed the provision of sharing the pension and other retirement benefits as arbitrary, saying the act violated Article 14 of the Constitution as it called for liabilities concerning pension and other retirement benefits to be divided between the two states on the basis of number of employees and not population.