An Open Letter to PM Narendra Modi

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To the Hon'ble Prime Minister of India,
Government of India,
New Delhi.

Dear Prime Minister,

I write to you this open letter today as one of the retirees of RRBs, and most importantly, as a senior citizen of India just to express my feelings of dissatisfaction with the silent role of the Union Govt as to RRB Pension Issue and to draw your kind attention to the predicament of helpless RRB retirees - real victims of discrimination and injustice.

Sir, pension is not a bounty, payable at the sweet-will of the Govt' and to receive pension is a valuable right of a Govt servant or Public Sector Bank employee, is a well-settled legal proposition. And right to receive pension is also a Constitutional Right (as provided in Article 300A) to each and every Indian citizen.

But after taking normal retirement from my service to the Paschim Banga Gramin Bank, I have been leading a painful life of privation and hardship with my family members since I have not yet been paid my rightful pension as per with sponsor bank by the competent authority. And it is not only me, but also thousands of retired employees of Regional Rural Banks are in the same dire state owing to paucity of a fixed income and have been passing their days through utmost hardship due to denial of rightful pension to the employees of 56 RRBs from their employers' end.

Sir, you are aware of the fact that the Regional Rural Banks are owned by the Govt. of India, State Govt, and Sponsor Bank respectively and the RRBs were established by the GOI under RRB Act 1976 to provide banking and credit facilities towards Agriculture and other Rural Sectors? And the GOI, being the holder of major 85% share (50% GOI: 35% Sponsor Bank: 15% State Govt), is the true owner of 56 RRBs.

So, it is very clear from the above that the Union Govt itself is responsible for the sorry plight of thousands of RRB Employees since benefits of pension at par with Sponsor Banks has not yet been extended to them from their employers i.e., the GOI's end despite several court orders and irrevocable NIT Awards-1990, pronounced by the Hon'ble Justice Obul Reddy on 30/04/1990 which has also been affirmed by the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India by passing two vital judgements dated 31/01/2001 and 07/03/2002 respectively.

In this connection I would like to attract your kind attention to the irreversible NIT Awards-1990, the basis of Pay Parity as well as Pension Parity with the Nationalised Commercial Banks(NCBs) has duly been implemented by the GOI on 22/02/1991 with retrospective effect on/from 01/09/1987.

As per recommendation of NIT (the NIT Awards-1990) both the officers and employees of RRBs are entitled to 'Pay Parity' (on the basis of 'Equal Pay for Equal Work') with the officers and employees of Sponsor Banks/NCBs in respect of pay scales, allowances, and other benefits in toto (i.e., counter-part of NCBs). And 'other benefits' includes the PF, gratuity, pension, leave salary etc. regarded as retiral benefits. Since the Hon'ble Apex Court has clarified that "Pension is part of Pay," the Equation Pay Parity=Pension Parity is a Solved Equation and no one can ignore the Hon'ble Apex Court's decisions.

So, it is now crystal clear that as per NIT Awards-1990 employees of RRBs are eligible for getting pension on a par with Nationalised Commercial Banks without any question or pre-conditions.

Besides that, several judgments/orders delivered by the Hon'ble Apex Court in the recent past in connection with Pension disputes, for instance, SC Verdict in CA-1123/2015 dated July 01, 2015, main points of which are : i) Pension is a part of pay, ii) Pension amount should not be less than 50% of last salary drawn, iii) Pension is a Constitutional right (as provided in Article 300A), and all these references/judgements speak in favour of our rightful demand 'Pension to employees of RRBs at par with NCBs.' But unfortunately, the GOI is reluctant to implement benefits of Rightful Pension in 56 RRBs and reason for denial of Pension to the RRB employees is best known by the Bank Authority i.e. GOI.

Sir, being a RRB retiree though I am eligible for getting a respectable amount of pension at par with NCBs, I am now just receiving a scanty amount of Rs. 2076/- each month as EPF Pension and similarly the 20000+ RRB retirees are also getting such EPF pension ranging from Rs. 1000/- to Rs. 2500/- per month for their survival on retirement which may be considered a shameful event for the entire nation. But being head of the Union Govt as well as in charge of Pension Department, you are well aware that a government servant is eligible for pension as one of the retiral benefits and the utter truth is starting from the Hon'ble President of India down to the Hon PM, FM, Ministers, MPs, MLAs, bureaucrats, military, police, teachers, government employees, and employees of RBI, SBI, NCBs and all other Public Sector Employees, irrespective of rank/positions, all are getting a respectable amount of pension after retirement, except the retirees of Regional Rural Banks- a Govt of India Enterprise!

But what is the reason for this discrimination? No doubt employees of RRBs are also government-owned bank employees and have been receiving 'Equal Pay for Equal Work' and other benefits at par with the Sponsor Bank/NCBs since 1987 on due implementation of NIT Awards-1990 by the Union Govt but surprisingly we are not qualified for 'Pension at par with Nationalised Commercial Banks' on retirement despite the equation 'Pay Parity=Pension Parity' is duly affirmed by the Hon'ble Supreme Court Judgements/Orders, I reiterate.

Sir, this is nothing but an instance of deprivation, discrimination and gross Injustice to RRB retirees, and it's a pity, despite ours is a democratic country, a welfare state, a 3D PM; but nobody is paying heed to us in spite of making so many appeals to the appropriate authorities for giving us a permanent solution to our long pending issue-- 'Pension Parity with NCBs.' But the real fact is we, the retirees of 56 RRBs, are also eligible for receiving our Rightful Pension at par with Sponsor Banks without any question or doubt and we have every right to live with human dignity.

Now the big question is, after rendering 30-35 years of faithful service to the government-owned rural banks why should we, the RRB retirees, be deprived of our legitimate pension?

Sir, receiving pension from employer is a legitimate right of each and every Govt servant as well as Public Sector Bank employee (as provided in Article 300A of Constitution of India), whereas payment of Legitimate Pension to the employees is also a great responsibility of Employer. But the truth is, we, the employees of 56 RRBs, have been debarred from getting our due pension after retirement due to sheer application of 'double standards' by the GOI in the question of payment of pension to the RRB employees at par with Sponsor Banks.

Sir, Fundamental Rights are guaranteed by the Holy Constitution to the citizens of India and Article 21 secures two valuable rights-- Right to Life and Right to Personal Liberty. Everyone has right to life, liberty and security of person. Being a peace loving and law-abiding senior citizen I have such right to live with human dignity and right to lead a healthy life! Article 21 also provides us right to live in peace and right to sleep in peace. But we are not only deprived of our legitimate pension, but also deprived of our right to life! Being respectable senior citizens of India, we are unable to live in peace or with dignity! In fact, our life is at stake! We are almost dying! Our life is not meaningful too, rather meaningless!

Democracy is our ideology and democratic government is our protector! But unfortunately, democracy becomes a mockery when huge money plays a significant role in election! Still majority people support their Hon'ble PM and people's government, having their confidence in democracy! So, arriving in 2017, being a perceptive and respectable senior citizen of incredible India with different mind-set, could we not be hopeful that our 3D PM, the head of the people's government, should be kind and considerate enough to review the decisions of previous government and to favour us with granting our legitimate pension at par with NCBs just to give us immediate relief?

Sir, we believe, being the head of the popular Govt, Modi ji cannot allow us to die a dog's death without food, medicines and proper medical treatment! But life is short, art is long, Time is fleeting! We have been waiting patiently for a long time for our legitimate pension. Now we are at the last stage of our life-span, unable to make both ends meet, and passing sleepless nights! So, Hon'ble Sir, please think a bit of us, intervene in the RRB Pension issue and extend immediately rightful pension to the dying retirees of 56 RRBs. And thus, protect our life and rights - the need of the hours, dispense us justice, and let us live in peace! We, the helpless RRB retirees, are awaiting your prompt action-- SOS!

With regards,

Yours faithfully,

Abhoycharan Basu
Fuleshwar, Howrah-711316
September 28, 2017

(Edited for brevity)

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