3-Month Deadline to Pay Retirement Dues: Bombay HC to SNDT University

The Bombay High Court orders SNDT University to pay retirement benefits as per the 7th Pay Commission, rejecting the university's delay.

3-Month Deadline to Pay Retirement Dues: Bombay HC to SNDT University

In a recent ruling, the Bombay High Court (HC) ordered the Shreemati Nathibai Damodar Thackersey (SNDT) women's university to pay retirement benefits to its employees in accordance with the 7th Pay Commission. The court has given the university three 3-month deadlines to make these payments. The payments will be made in three installments.

The university had argued that it would start paying these benefits to non-teaching staff members once it had generated a corpus by June 2025. But the court rejected this argument while hearing a series of petitions. They were all filed between 2022 and 2024 and sought orders for the university to release pension payments.

Some of the elderly petitioners have even passed away, and their legal successors are now pursuing their cases.

The bench comprised Justices Nitin Jamdar and Milind Sathaye. They stated that the university should have started the process of obtaining funding and building a corpus as soon as the Seventh Pay Commission became effective.

Earlier, the university was asked to submit a timeline for payment. In response, the university did not specify what efforts it had made to obtain the funds. The bench also highlighted that this was not the first time that university staff members had to face challenges in getting their pension benefits. The university has a history of not paying staff members on time.

The university had argued that it does not have sufficient corpus to pay the pensions. However, the court ordered the university to start paying the petitioners' pension benefits, including dearness allowance, in accordance with the 7th pay commission from July 1, 2024.

The court has also laid out a payment schedule. 33% of the current arrears are to be paid to the petitioners within three months. The rest, 33%, should be paid within three months after the first installment is due. The rest, 34%, will be paid three months after the due date for the second installment.

In the event that the university does not pay the initial installment within three months, the facility for the next two installments would be withdrawn. Then, the entire pending arrears will have to be paid within six months.

SNDT University is a statutory organisation governed by the Maharashtra Public Universities Act of 2016. The Act aims to improve and regulate public universities in terms of academic excellence and standards of instruction. The bench said that this cannot be achieved without the involvement of the university's teaching and non-teaching staff.

The court stressed that the operation of the university cannot come at the expense of the welfare of its staff.

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