ISLAMABAD: The Supreme Court has directed three key private banks to immediately raise the minimum pension to Rs8,000 per month.
The payments will be prospective, that is, from the date of the judgment.
“With immediate effect the minimum pension paid to any pensioner (including their widows, where applicable) of UBL, HBL and ABL will be Rs8,000 (rupees eight thousand) per month,” said the three-judge bench of the top court, headed by Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar, in its 31-page judgment.
Ayesha Hamid, Tariq Mahmood Khokhar and Hashmat Habib appeared on behalf of pensioners, who had moved applications in the SC Human Rights cell for the enhancement of their pension.
Barrister Ali Zafar, Salman Aslam Butt and Sikandar Bashir Mohmand represented the different private banks. Makhdoom Ali Khan was appointed as amicus curiae.
The SC in its judgment especially appreciated Makhdoom Ali Khan’s legal assistance. The legal experts are also appreciating the court’s efforts to enhance the minimum pension of poor retired employees.
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During the hearing, some of the pensioners belonging to the UBL had revealed that their pension was Rs1,321 per month. Now after the court order, the same retired employees will get a minimum of Rs8,000 per month.
The court in its judgment also directed that there will be an increase of 5% in the aforesaid pension every year, effective from January 1 every year.
“The pension will be paid to all three categories of pensioners… [including] the ‘original retirees’, those whose pensions were linked to basic pay ‘frozen’ in past years, and in the case of UBL to retrenched employees including those who had served the bank for more than ten years on date of retrenchment,” said the court order.
The verdict clarified that the pension of employees who are receiving sums in excess of Rs8,000 shall continue to receive that amount and those whose pension would fall below the minimum pension (after 5% annual increase, effective on the 1st of January) they shall be paid the minimum pension with 5% annual increase.
“However, those who have availed the benefit of VSS (Voluntary Separation Scheme) or Golden Handshake Scheme will not be benefitted by this judgment,” said the order, authored by the CJP.
“Under statutory provision, common law or contract, can pension be an amount so modest that it denies pensioner a decent living, thereby denying him/her the right to life?” it asked, saying that Article 14 of the Constitution provides protection to the citizens of the country.
“To subject a pensioner to a life of penury and impoverishment is a clear violation of his fundamental rights to life and dignity as enshrined in Articles 9 and 14 respectively,” said the judgment.
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The court said even though the entitlement to pension is not a fundamental right, it must be duly earned. “Once that right has been perfected and earned, as has been by the petitioners, it is no longer a question whether they are entitled to the pension or not.
“The fundamental right that is to be enforced is that the pension given to such pensioners must be of a level which allows them to keep body and soul together,” the order said.
The bench also appreciated boards of the banks, which showed generosity, magnanimity, great sense of corporate social responsibility to come up with a scheme whereby there will be an immediate and substantial increase in the minimum pension paid to the pensioners.
“However, using our discretion in the matter, we enhance the aforesaid amount voluntarily offered by the banks and we direct that with immediate effect the minimum pension paid to any pensioner (including their widows, where applicable) of UBL, HBL and ABL will be Rs8,000 per month,” it said.