Cannot keep the benefit given by mistake, rules High Court

Saurabh Malik
Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, June 19

The Punjab and Haryana High Court has made it clear that any benefit extended to an employee on account of a mistake is liable to be withdrawn. The Bench has added that the employee “cannot have any vested right to continue to have the said benefit”.

The ruling came in a case where “first” assured career progression (ACP) scale granted to an employee was withdrawn on the grounds that it was granted by mistake and he was ineligible. The matter was placed before the Division Bench of Chief Justice Krishna Murari and Justice Arun Palli after employee Sunil Kumar moved the High Court against Haryana and other respondents.

He was aggrieved by the dismissal of his writ petition challenging the order dated June 18, 2010, whereby the first ACP scale granted to him was withdrawn. He had also challenged another order dated November 9, 2015, whereby the representation against the order was rejected.

The Bench was told that the appellant was appointed clerk under ex-gratia appointment policy of the government on regular basis in November 1999. The first ACP scale was sanctioned to the appellant-petitioner with effect from December 1, 2009. Subsequently, the order was withdrawn after realising that the ACP scale was granted to him by mistake and he was not eligible.

The Bench was also told that one of the essential conditions for grant of ACP benefit to a clerk on completion of 10 years of service was passing of a departmental-type test in accordance with instructions issued in October 1997 by the Chief Secretary.

The Bench asserted that the appellant-petitioner did not pass the test till February 2017. The state’s stand was that he would be entitled to first ACP scale immediately thereafter, but not before that. The Bench added that the state had, in its statement, categorically stated that the first ACP was erroneously granted on completion of 10 years of service and the reason was that the assistant concerned had wrongly forwarded his case for grant of benefit.

As soon as it came to the respondent-state’s knowledge that the appellant-petitioner was ineligible, it was withdrawn. “Any benefit extended on account of mistake is liable to be withdrawn and has rightly been withdrawn,” the Bench concluded, while dismissing the appeal.

Error correction

  • Assured career progression scale granted to clerk withdrawn on the grounds that it has been granted by mistake and he is ineligible
  • The appellant-petitioner has not passed a departmental-type test, an essential condition for grant of the benefit, till February 2017
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