December 3, 2022
”An arrogant person considers himself perfect. This is the chief harm of arrogance. It interferes with a person's main task in life - becoming a better person.” - Leo Tolstoy (1828- 1910), Russian writer who is regarded as one of the greatest authors of all time.
Not all judges, especially those in the higher judiciary, do not confine their reading to judicial tomes and law reports. This is reflected in a judgment delivered in the Karnataka High Court and reported by Mehmet Oz and published by The Hindu (22/11/22). Playing on the now ubiquitous computer language and specially “hardware” and “software”, a rhyming-fond judge called for “heartware” while arrogant officials ride roughshod on the rights and eligibilities of citizens and customers. Now, the concerned report.
It is “heartware” which has to take care of pensioners’ interest to ensure that pension amount is credited to their accounts properly and they are not made to run from pillar to post even in this digital age, managed through the computer screens controlled by the software and the hardware, said the High Court of Karnataka.
“Heartware” is persons who handle the accounts of the pensioners and transfer the monthly pension to the accounts using computer system, the court said.
Justice M Nagaprasanna made these observations while admonishing officials of a nationalised bank, which had failed to rectify excess family pension amount credited to the account of a 62-year-old widow for the past six years, blocked her accounts repeatedly, and made her run from pillar to post since 2016, forcing her to move the court.
The court directed the bank not to recover ?2.4 lakh credited in excess to her account from more than 10 years from her, but to recover the amount from the bank officials responsible for such mismanagement. The officials had not only failed to rectify the excess amount credited way back in 2016, despite her request, and failed to redress her grievance.
Petitioner Nalini Devi started receiving the family pension in 2004-05 after the death of her husband, who was working as a second division assistant in the Police Department. She received the full pension that her husband would have got on his superannuation till 2011 as her husband would have retired in 2011. From 2012, she was eligible only for normal family pension.
However, both the government and erstwhile Syndicate Bank continued to credit the full pension amount to her account till 2016, when her account was blocked and she was informed by the bank that she cannot operate the account till ?50,000 credited in excess was recovered.
Neither the bank nor the pension authority acted on her request made in 2016 to debit Rs 50,000 if credited in excess. Meanwhile, the bank was merged with Canara Bank. In 2021, Canara Bank blocked her account stating that ?2.34 lakh was credited in excess to her account.
Her plea to set right the anomalies and allow her to withdraw her monthly pension by recovering excess pension in instalments fell on deaf ears of even higher officers of the bank.
“It is always the folly of the officers who handle such accounts, who either do not act properly or display lackadaisical attitude towards the problems of its customers even if brought to their notice, particularly, in matters concerning pension. Officers who display such remissness should not be tolerated,” the court observed. The court asked the bank to initiate action against officials concerned.
This is an interesting case of official negligence and/or arrogance. The subject is open to many views. What are yours? Your response is welcome in the format given below (pl scroll down a bit). Once again, welcome to reason.