section 10(15)/income-tax act

[2004] 141 taxman 84 (delhi)

HIGH COURT OF DELHI

R.K. Srivastava

v.

Union of India

B.C. Patel, CJ.

AND BADAR DURREZ AHMED, J.

WP (C) NOS. 1115, 2593 AND 3360 OF 1997

JULY 9, 2004

Under the Income-tax Act, if any income is liable to be taxed,
it is not open for High Court to issue a direction to employer
(Government of India)/income-tax department not to levy
income-tax on interest earned by assessees (employees) on
their retirement/terminal benefits

Section 10(15) of the Income-tax Act, 1961 - Exemption - Interest - Whether under Income-tax Act, if any income is liable to be taxed, it is not open for High Court to issue a direction to employer (Government of India)/income-tax department not to levy income-tax on interest earned by assessees (employees) on their retirement/terminal benefits - Held, yes - Assessees filed writ petitions praying, inter alia, that imposition of income-tax on interest earned by each of assessees on their retirement/terminal benefits from 2-1-1990 to 2-1-1997 retained by respondent No. 1 at the time of permanent absorption of assessees by respondent No. 2, be declared as arbitrary, discriminatory, illegal, unconscionable and fraudulent - Whether since no document placed on record suggesting that promise was given that interest which would be received would be free from income-tax, there was no question of exercising power under section 10(15) by appropriate authority - Held, yes

Facts

The petitioners/assessees were earlier employed by the Overseas Communication Services, a department of the Ministry of Communication, Government of India. In or about 1989, a decision was taken by the Government of India to create a central public sector undertaking known as ‘Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd.’ (VSNL). There was a settlement/memorandum on 5-7-1989, whereby options were given to the assessees. If the person was not willing to opt in favour of absorption, then he was to be transferred to the surplus staff cell for deployment against possible vacancies in the Government offices. If one would accept the option of becoming a regular employee of ‘VSNL’, he was deemed to have been absorbed with effect from 1-1-1990. Further, vide memorandum dated 11-12-1989, for pensionary benefits, options were given. According to that memorandum, the employee had an option either to draw pro rata pension monthly or to draw a lump sum amount in lieu of 100 per cent pro rata pension. In case it was decided to be taken in lump sum, the amount was to be paid on the expiry of 7 years from the date of permanent absorption. There was a provision for early payment, in the event of certain eventualities, before the period of 7 years. The amount which earned interest at the rate prescribed was to be paid as per agreement dated 5-7-1989 as also memorandum dated 11-12-1989.

The petitioners filed writ petitions praying, inter alia, that the imposition of income-tax on the interest earned by each of the assessees on their retirement/terminal benefits from 2-1-1990 to 2-1-1997 retained by respondent No. 1 at the time of permanent absorption of the assessees by respondent No. 2, be declared as arbitrary, discriminatory, illegal, unconscionable and fraudulent; that a writ might be issued directing the respondents to refund the TDS at the rate of 10 per cent on the interest earned on the retirement benefits deducted by them while releasing the remaining amount along with interest at the rate of 18 per cent per annum till payment; and that the respondents be restrained from taking coercive action against the petitioners for compelling them to pay income-tax on the said amount of interest.

Held

It was alleged by the petitioners, inter alia, that they were given assurances that the Government would take adequate measures to ensure that no tax liability was fastened on the interest accrued by issuing necessary orders/notification under the Income-tax Act. [Para 8]

Vide memorandum dated 11-12-1989, option was given to the Government servants. It was open to opt in favour of absorption. It was not compulsory. If one did not so opt, then in that case, he was required to be transferred to surplus staff cell and would be adjusted in the vacancies of other Government offices and the option once exercised was made final. Before accepting this option, the office memorandum dated 5-7-1989 was made known to them. [Para 12]

Thus, after having full knowledge about the option to remain with the Government or to remain with public sector undertaking, a decision was taken by the concerned employees in the year 1989. Not only that, what benefits would be made available to the persons concerned while exercising option were also made known to them. It was also indicated as to what would be the amount available per month as also what would be the amount available in case if it was opted to receive the amount in lump sum after a period of 7 years in cash. [Para 13]

The contention that the Government cheated the assessees or backed out from assurances that the amount of interest would be tax-free was not borne out by any record. Not only that but the contention raised in that behalf was contrary to the provisions contained in the Income-tax Act. [Para 15]

The assessees had come out with a version that the coffers of the Government of India were totally empty and with a view to avoid the payment, a scheme was devised. It was further averred by the petitioners that they responded in good faith and on the assurance that they would get their benefits with interest after 7 years without any liability of income-tax, had accepted the offer but, said fact was not borne out from any material placed on record. In the absence of any supporting document, such arguments could not be entertained in a writ petition. [Para 17]

It was contended by the petitioners that unilateral and rather compulsory retention of the commuted pension and when it was received with interest, the interest thereon would not amount to an income which could be said to be taxable. Since no assurance was given by the Government, in any of the documents produced before the court, it was nothing but a repeated futile attempt on the part of the assessees and while arguing the matter that on account of the assurance the assessees responded the scheme. As a matter of fact, it appeared that if the assessees would not have opted for the pension, they would not have been permitted to join VSNL and would have remained with the Government. For securing more benefits, they opted for VSNL and now they could not make any grievance. About the fraudulent act on the part of the Government on the assessees had been cheated, there was no material on the record to indicate the same. [Para 18]

The assessees had contended that the respondents had taken away from the assessees, substantial portion of interest accrued thereby reducing the effective rate of interest to a ridiculously and unrealistically low rate. Under the statute, namely, the Income-tax Act, if any income is liable to be taxed, it is not open for the High Court to issue a direction to the employer/income-tax department not to levy the income-tax on the interest earned by the assessees. In the instant petition, the assessees had averred that respondent No. 1 was bound by the principles of promissory estoppel. It was the duty of respondent No. 1, according to the assessee, to take appropriate steps to see that the amount of interest received by the assessees was completely exempted from payment of income-tax. Before calling upon the assessees to exercise the option, no promise whatsoever was given by the Government. No document placed on record suggesting that the promise was given that the interest which would be received would be free from income-tax. [Para 19]

The assessees had contended that the respondents had failed to exercise the power under section 10(15) even though such representation/promises were held out to the assessees and other similarly situated employees prior to their absorption in VSNL. There was no promise/representation held out to the assessees by the Government. The document did not refer to the same. Therefore, there was no question of exercising power under section 10(15) by the appropriate authority. [Para 22]

The writ petitions were, therefore, dismissed.

Vipin Sanghi for the Appellant. Navin Chawla, Y.R. Sharma, Ms. Premlata Bansal and Ajay Jha for the Respondent.

Order

B.C. Patel, CJ. - These petitions are raising common question and are arising out of similar facts and, therefore, are disposed of by this common judgment.

2. In Writ Petition No. 1115/97, 15 petitioners in all have prayed for writ of mandamus, inter alia, declaring that the imposition of income-tax on the interest earned by each of the petitioner on their retirement/terminal benefits from 2-1-1990 to 2-1-1997 retained by respondent No. 1 at the time of permanent absorption of the petitioners by respondent No. 2, as arbitrary, discriminatory, illegal, unconscionable and fraud on power and upon the petitioners. It is further prayed that a writ may be issued directing the respondents to refund the TDS @ 10% of the interest earned on the retirement benefits) deducted by them while releasing the remaining amount along with interest @ 18% p.a. till payment and have further prayed to restrain the respondents from taking coercive action against the petitioners for compelling them to pay Income-tax on the said amount of interest. Thus the allegations are made against: (1) respondent No. 1, Union of India through the Secretary, Ministry of Communications; (2) the Secretary, Ministry of Finance and (3) the Secretary, Ministry of Personnel, Pension and P.G. The allegations made against respondent No. 1 are that the conduct of respondent No. 1 is thoroughly unfair and rather fraudulent in as much it has gone back on the representations held out to the petitioners on which each of them acted in seeking to take undue advantage of their own actions and omission to deprive the petitioners of their legitimate dues.

3. It is the case of the petitioners that they were earlier employed by the Overseas Communication Services, a department of the Ministry of Communication, Government of India. In or about 1989, a decision was taken by the Government of India to create a Central Public Sector Undertaking known as “Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (for short “VSNL”). There was a settlement, the copy of which is at Annexure-A, page 29, dated 5-7-1989 whereby options were given to the petitioners, vide memorandum dated 11-12-1989, the copy of which is produced on record at Annexure-B. If the person was not willing to opt in favour of absorption, then he was to be transferred to the Surplus Staff Cell for deployment against possible vacancies in the Government offices. If one would have accepted the option of becoming a regular employee of “VSNL”, he was deemed to have been absorbed with effect from 1-1-1990. Vide Annexure-I to Memorandum dated 11-12-1989 for pensionary benefits, options were given. According to clause (d) of paragraph 2, the employee had an option either to draw pro rata pension monthly or to draw a lump sum amount in lieu of 100% pro rata pension. In case it was decided to take in lump sum, the amount was to be paid on the expiry of 7 years from the date of permanent absorption. There was a provision for payment earlier in the event of certain eventualities before the period of 7 years. The amount which earned interest at the rate prescribed was to be paid as per memorandum dated 5-7-1989 as also annexure-A of Memorandum dated 11-12-1989.

4. When the amount, as indicated hereinabove, was to be paid, the question arose about the Tax Deducted at Source (for short “TDS”). Section 10(10A)(i) of the Income-tax Act, 1961, as applicable at the relevant time reads as under:—

“any payment in commutation of pension received under the Civil Pensions (Commutation) Rules of the Central Government or under any similar scheme applicable to the members of the civil services of the Union or holders of posts connected with defence or of civil posts under the Union (such members or holders being persons not governed by the said Rules) or to the members of the all-India services or to the members of defence services or to the members of the civil services of a State or holders of civil posts under a State or to the employees of a local authority or a corporation established by a Central, State or Provincial Act;”

5. The short question before the Court is, as per agreed terms, the amount having been disbursed and invested and paid with interest whether the amount of interest is liable to be taxed or not? If the TDS is deducted, an assessee has a right of preferring an appeal against the order made by the Assessing Officer. After the Appellate Forum decides one way or the other, an aggrieved party has a right to prefer appeal before the Income-tax Appellate Tribunal as well. However, in the instant case, the petitioners approached the Court by filing the writ petition and the learned Single Judge hearing the matter at the initial stage on 18-3-1997 recorded the statement of the counsel for the respondent, which reads as under:—

“Learned counsel for the respondents further submits that the petitioners shall not be charged any penalty for non-payment of the advance tax on the retiral benefit.”

6. It is required to be noted that there were two respondents, namely, Union of India and “VSNL”. So far as Union of India is concerned, it was prayed that the notice may be served through the Secretary, Ministry of Communications and also through the Secretary, Ministry of Finance and also through the Secretary, Ministry of Personnel, Pension and P.G. Department. However, the date on which the orders was made by the Court, there is nothing to show that counsel for the Income-tax Department appeared and made a statement. It transpires that on 23-10-2003, for the first time, counsel appeared for the Income-tax Department and on the same date the Division Bench also pointed out that the counsel for the Income Tax Department shall have instructions in the matter.

7. According to the petitioners, they were all Central Government employees and were working as officers in the Overseas Communication Service (for short “OCS”), a department under the Ministry of Communication, Government of India. It is further averred in the petition that a decision was taken by a Union Cabinet, which is fully arbitrary, unfair and discriminatory whereby a decision was taken to convert OCS into an independent autonomous entity, namely, Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd. (for short “VSNL”), a wholly Government of India owned company. It is further averred that the staff of OCS was deputed to VSNL with effect from 1-4-1986. It is further averred by the petitioners that on 5-7-1989, Office Memorandum was issued by the Government of India through its Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievance and Pension Department wherein terms and conditions were laid down. It is further averred that in view of this en masse transfer of employees put all employees in financial loss.

8. It is required to be noted that the petitioners have alleged that the Permanent Government Servants were given the option to retain the pensionary benefits available to them under the Government Rules. It is further alleged that the employees were given option to either draw pro rata pension monthly or to draw a lump sum amount/commuted value in lieu of 100% pro rata pension. The allegations are made against the respondents that these options were disadvantageous to the petitioners and were made in a calculated way. It is further alleged in the petition that in fact no option was given to the petitioners but were required to choose the lesser evil. According to the petitioners that was a raw deal. The conditions imposed with regard to payment of the retirement benefits upon absorption were arbitrary and opposed to public policy. It is alleged that the action of placing unfair and unequitable options were violative of sections 23 and 24 of the Contract Act apart from being arbitrary, discriminatory and violative of Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution of India. It is further alleged that the tailor made conditions are in contravention of Central Civil Service Pension Rules (for short “CCS Pension Rules”) and particularly Rule 37 of the CCS Pension Rules. The petitioners have gone to the extent of saying that the petitioners were given assurances that the Government would take adequate measures to ensure that no tax liability is fastened on the interest accrued by issuing necessary orders/notification under the Income-tax Act.

9. The petitioners have gone to the extent of saying that the respondents have in fact cheated the petitioners and others similarly situated, who were taken in by the assurances and representations held out by them that their retirement benefits would be given with interest after seven years without any burden of taxation. It is required to be noted that these wild allegations, which are made in the petition, are not supported by any material whatsoever. It is alleged that the petitioners through their union called upon the respondents to take effective steps so that the benefits are not subjected to Income-tax but respondents did nothing in this behalf. It is alleged that in view of the representation dated 5-2-1993 which was addressed by respondent No. 2 to respondent No. 1 making it clear that some in justice is done to the petitioners. In the petition, it is alleged that in reply dated 19-1-1995, respondent No. 1 illegally sought once against to deny the due relief to the petitioners and respondent No. 2 was requested to examine and suggest as to how employees of erstwhile OCS can be compensated in some other way. Letter dated 19-1-1995 (Annexure-E) makes it clear that the request has not been accepted on the grounds that nature of terminal benefits deposits and GPF deposit is different. It was pointed that in the case of GPF deposits the money is locked with the Government for the entire period of service of an employee whereas in the case of terminal benefits, the lock in period for deposit is only 7 years. It was also pointed out that this deposit cannot be equated with other tax free government securities because in this case, the interest is payable at the rates applicable to GPF (which at the relevant time was 12% p.a.) while the case of other tax free securities, the interest rate is lower than 12%. Thus the stand of the Government was clear that the amount was deposited for a period of 7 years on which interest was to be paid. However, with regard to income-tax not to be levied on that interest, Government did not accept the request.

10. We were taken through the Office Memorandum dated 5-7-1989. Memorandum dated 11-12-1989 along with terms and conditions of permanent absorption of the OCS Staff. The options were also indicated in different model, the copies of which are placed as Annexure-“C”. Annexure-“A”. dated 5-7-1990 is the Settlement of Pensionary terms and conditions in respect of Government employees transferred en masse to Central Public Sector Undertakings/Central Autonomous Bodies. Reading, the office memorandum, it is very clear that the question of settlement for pensionary terms on conversion of a Government Department or a segment thereof or a Government office into a Central Public Undertaking/Autonomous Body was reviewed in the light of the recommendations of the Committee of National Council. It is in view of this, the Office memorandum was issued. Reading the memorandum it is clear that the permanent Government Servant was given the option to retain pensionary benefits available under the Government rules or be governed by the rules of the Public Sector Undertaking/Autonomous Body. This option was also made available to quasi permanent and temporary employees after they have been confirmed in the Public Sector Undertaking/Autonomous Body. Even the Government servants with less than 10 years service were also held entitled to an amount equal to Provident Fund Contribution for a period of their service under the Government up to the date of permanent absorption in the Public Sector Undertaking/Autonomous Body with simple interest @ 6% p.a. as opening balance in their CPF account. Even the persons who completed 10 years or more and opted for the benefit of a PSU/Autonomous Body were also held entitled to get the benefits as indicated in clause (d).

11. Option was given to the employees to draw pro rata pension monthly or to draw lump sum amount in lien of 100% pro rata pension. It was also made clear that if employees opted in favour of monthly payment of pro rata pension, the same shall be allowed to be drawn with effect from the date of permanent absorption in a Public Sector Undertaking or Autonomous Body and were not allowed to commute either at the time of permanent absorption or any time thereafter. Thus who opted for lump sum, were to be paid commuted value on the expiry of period of 7 years from the date of permanent absorption. However, this was allowed to be withdrawn or paid earlier in the event of death/retirement/resignation/discharge from service. Reading this clause, it is very clear that the amount was to be kept for a period of 7 years or till the eventuality which occurs, as indicated hereinabove. It was also made clear that a Public Sector Undertaking or Autonomous Body will formulate the terms and conditions of service in the new Body. The employee will, however, have an option to retain Government pay scales till their promotion or retirement whichever may be earlier or to come over to the service conditions of Public Sector Undertaking/Autonomous Body. It was made clear that until the option is exercised, the employee will continue to be governed by the pay scales, leave entitlements and terminal benefits under the Government.

12. Vide memorandum dated 11-12-1989 option was given to the Government servants. It was open to opt in favour of absorption. It was not compulsory. If one would not have opted, then in that case he was required to be transferred to Surplus Staff Cell and would have been adjusted in the vacancies of other Government offices and the option once exercised was made final. Before accepting this option, the office memorandum dated 5-7-1989 was made known to them.

13. Thus after having full knowledge about the option to remain with the Government or to remain with Public Sector Undertaking, a decision was taken by the concerned employees in the year 1989. Not only that, but, vide Annexure-3 what benefits will be made available to the persons concerned while exercising option were made known to them. It was also indicated as to what would be the amount available per month as also what will be the amount available in case if it is opted to receive the amount in lump sum after a period of 7 years in cash.

14. It is required to be noted that in view of the clarification made by the Government and the circular, it is clear that neither the petitioners opted for remaining with the Government or opted for monthly pension as per the scheme but opted for lump sum commuted amount on the expiry of 7 years. In clause (3) of Memorandum dated 11-12-1989, once having accepted the option the grievance cannot be made in the year 1997. If at all, according to the petitioners, it was not acceptable to them at the relevant time, they ought not to have opted for alternative benefits and ought to have continued with the Government. Now it is not open for them to say that the offer was violative of sections 23 and 24 of the Contract Act or violative of Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution of India.

15. In this connection, it is also required to be noted that the contention that the Government cheated the petitioners, as alleged in para 16 of the petition or backed out from assurances that the amount of interest will be tax free is not borne out by any record. Not only that but, the contention raised in this behalf is contrary to the provisions contained in the Income-tax Act.

16. If the amount would have been deposited in the Provident Fund Account, the mater would have been different. It was for the petitioners at the relevant time to consider all these aspects before accepting option for joining VSNL. But with open eyes when the petitioners accepted, now it is not open for them to make any grievance.

17. In para 10 of the petition, the petitioners have come out with a version that the coffers of the Government of India were totally empty and with a view to avoid the payment a scheme was devised. It is further averred that the petitioners responded in good faith and on the assurance that they would get their benefits with interest after 7 years without any liability of Income-tax have accepted the offer, is not borne out from any material placed on record. In the absence of any supporting document, such arguments cannot be entertained in a writ petition.

18. It was contended by the petitioners that unilateral and rather compulsory retention of the commuted pension and when it is received with interest, the interest thereon would not amount to an income which can be said to be taxable. When no assurance was given by the Government, in any of the document produced before us, it is nothing but a repeated futile attempt on the part of the petitioners in the petition and while arguing the matter that on account of the assurance the petitioners responded the scheme. As a matter of fact, it appears that if the petitioners would not have opted for the pension, they would not have been permitted to join VSNL and would have remained with the Government. For securing more benefits, they opted for VSNL and now they cannot make any grievance. About the fraudulent act on the part of the Government on the petitioners have been cheated, there is no material on the record to indicate the same.

19. In para 16 of the petition, without giving any figure or example, the petitioners have contended that the respondents have taken away from the petitioners substantial portion of interest accrued thereby reducing the effective rate of interest to a ridiculously and un-realistically low rate. Under the Statute, namely, Income-tax Act, if any income is liable to be taxed, it is not open for this Court to issue a direction to the respondents/Income-tax department not to levy the income-tax on the interest earned by the petitioners. In the petition, the petitioners have averred that the respondent No. 1 is bound by the principles of promissory estoppel. It is the duty of the respondent No. 1, according to the petitioners, to take appropriate steps to see that the amount of interest received by the petitioners is completely exempted from payment of income-tax. Before calling upon the petitioners to exercise the option, no promise whatsoever was given by the Government. No document placed on record, namely, the Office Memorandum dated 5-7-1989 nor the Memorandum dated 11-12-1989 along with terms and conditions for permanent absorption nor with the model Annexure-C, suggest that the promise is given that the interest which will be received will be income-tax free. At the cost of repetition, it is required to be stated that the terms and conditions which are mentioned in the memorandum dated 11-12-1989 (as also annexures), it was open for the petitioners either to opt for or not to opt for. It was also open for the petitioners either to opt for to draw pro rata pension monthly or to draw lump sum amount in lieu of 100% pro rata pension. Knowing fully well, having accepted the conditions, now it is not open for the petitioners to challenge the same.

20. In the petition, various allegations are made without any supporting document, such as, Government having no funds at the relevant time or facing financial crises or that foreign exchange reserves having been seriously eroded etc. If the Government would not have paid the amount after period of 7 years with interest, certainly it could be said that such act is illegal or contrary to the promise held out. But that is not the case of the petitioners.

21. It is also required to be noted that Government may float different types of schemes but it is for the person concerned to accept the same or not to accept. It is the case where the petitioners were in Government service and continued to discharge the same duties in another Corporation of the Government itself. The petitioners opted for additional benefit, namely, lump sum pension instead of remaining with the Government, therefore, it cannot be said that the Government has acted contrary to law.

22. The petitioners have contended that the respondents have failed to exercise the power under sections 10(15) of the Income-tax Act even though such representations/promises were held out to the petitioners and other similarly situated employees prior to their absorption in VSNL. As indicated earlier, there was no promise/representation held out to the petitioners by the Government. The document does not refer the same. Therefore, there is no question of exercising power under section 10(15) of the Income-tax Act by the appropriate authority. On the contrary, the Government vide letter dated 19-1-1995 pointed out that the request has not been agreed to grant benefits of interest accrued on deposits of terminal benefits by pointing out that the nature of terminal benefits deposits and GPF deposit is different. In tax free securities interest rate is lower than 12%. Therefore, in view of this, the demand made by the petitioners is wholly unjustified.

23. It was also contended on behalf of the petitioners in other petitions that in view of Rule 37 of the Central Civil Services (Pension) Rules, 1972 that as the petitioners were absorbed in a public sector undertaking/autonomous body, they are entitled to get the benefits. Rule 37 of the said Rules reads as under:—

“37. Pension on absorption in or under a corporation, company or body - (1) A Government servant who has been permitted to be absorbed in a service or post in or under a Corporation or Company wholly or substantially owned or controlled by the Central Government or a State Government or in our under a Body controlled or financed by the Central Government or a State Government shall be deemed to have retired from service from the date of such absorption and subject to sub-rule (3) he shall be eligible to receive retirement benefits if any, from such date as may be determined, in accordance with the orders of the Central Government applicable to him.

Explanation - Date of absorption shall be -

   (i)   in case a Government employee joins a corporation or company or body on immediate absorption basis, the date on which he actually joins that corporation or company or body;

  (ii)   in case a Government employee initially joins a corporation or company or body on foreign service terms by retaining a lien under the Government, the date from which his unqualified resignation is accepted by the Government.

(2) The provisions of sub-rule (1) shall also apply to Central Government servants who are permitted to be absorbed in joint sector undertakings, wholly under the joint control of Central Government and State Government/Union Territory Administrations or under the joint control of two or more State Governments/Union Territory Administrations.

(3) Where there is a pension scheme in a body controlled or financed by the Central Government in which a Government servant is absorbed, he shall be entitled to exercise option either to count the service rendered under the Central Government in that body for pension or to receive pro rata retirement benefits for the service rendered under the Central Government in accordance with the orders issued by the Central Government.

Explanation - Body means Autonomous Body or Statutory Body.”

24. Reading the aforesaid rule, it is very clear that a Government servant who has been permitted to be absorbed in a service in or under a Corporation, shall be eligible to receive retirement benefits, if any, from such date as may be determined in accordance with the orders of the Central Government applicable to him. Reading this rule on which reliance is placed by the petitioners, it is very clear that on absorption in a service in or under a Corporation, a person is entitled to get retirement benefits. However, such benefits are to be given in accordance with the orders of the Central Government and from the date as may be determined.

25. In view of the documents placed on record, it is very clear that the petitioners accepted the terms and conditions of permanent absorption and in view of this they are to be governed by these terms and conditions so far as pensionary benefits are concerned. As indicated earlier, it was open for the Government servant to continue with the Government services or to opt for absorption in the public sector undertaking and, at the relevant time the offer was made to each Government servant either to get monthly pension benefits or after a particular period. Having once accepted these conditions, we find no reasons to say that there is any breach of Rule 37.

26. As a result of what we have stated hereinabove, we are of the opinion that there is no merit in these petitions and the same are required to be dismissed. Ordered accordingly. However, considering the facts and circumstances of the case, we are not passing any order of costs.

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