President directs Post Office to return the wrongly deducted Rs. 1.35 million to pensioner


PR No. 163/2023
Islamabad, 20 September 2023: President Dr Arif Alvi has directed the Pakistan Post Office Department to pay Rs 1.35 million to a retired employee as the amount was wrongly deducted from his pensionary benefits by the Postmaster General Punjab, Lahore (the Agency) on account of a mistake in employee's date of birth. The President said that the employee continued to serve four more years in his department after his retirement on the orders of the competent authority and had a bonafide belief of receiving the salary for the period. He added that depriving the employee of pensionary benefits and deducting the salary paid in performance of his duties was unlawful and  maladministration had been established.
The President gave these remarks while accepting a representation filed by Mr Muhammad Yousaf (the complainant) against the decision of the Wafaqi Mohtasib declaring that the Agency had rightly deducted the amount from his pensionary benefits. The complainant had alleged that he served for 38 years with the Agency and he retired in 2016 but his department had wrongly recorded his date of birth due to which his retirement year was changed to 2012. Subsequently, he overworked for additional four years but a huge amount of Rs 1.35 million was unjustifiably deducted in lieu of the salary paid to him for four years from his pensionary benefits. Feeling aggrieved, he approached the Wafaqi Mohtasib which passed the orders in the Agency's favour. Afterwards, the complainant raised the matter with the President by filing a representation against Wafaqi Mohtasib's decision.
The President accepted the representation of the complainant and pointed out that the Agency had notified the date of retirement on superannuation of the complainant
effective from 05.05.2016 vide its letter dated 04.06.2015 and the complainant performed his duties on the basis of said order of the Agency. He stated that although the issue of the correct date of retirement of the employee had been settled by the Federal Service Trubunal and the Supreme Court of Pakistan, however, the issue of depriving a worker of his salary for his services rendered still remained unresolved. He observed that the complainant was paid for the performance of duty as ordered and he had a bonafide belief of receiving salary for the said period. "In other words, he singularly was not at fault as he acted upon the order of the competent authority", he held. The President also referred to a judgment of the Supreme Court in Engineer-in-Chief Branch through Ministry of Defence etc. vs Jalal ud Din (PLD 1992 SC 207) case, in which the respondent Jalal-ud-Din was unlawfully promoted to a higher post and was paid salaries till such time the promotion was found illegal and the promotion order was cancelled. The department had started recovery proceedings for the salaries paid during the period he held the higher position.
He filed appeal before the Federal Service Tribunal which was accepted. On appeal before the Supreme Court of Pakistan, by the department, it was held that though the authority was competent to withdraw the illegal order, "as the respondent had received the amount on the bonafide belief, the department is not entitled to recover the amount drawn during the period when the later remained in the field". The Supreme Court further held that "as far as the recovery of the amount in question is concerned, the principle of locus poenitentiae would be applicable and the appellants are not entitled to recover he amount". 
The President said that  Wafaqi Mohtasib had erroneously observed that the Agency was justified for recovery of overpaid amount from the complainant and it  failed to appreciate the principle of locus poenitentiae which entailed that the Agency was precluded to recover the amount received on a bonafide belief. 
The President said that the Holy Prophet (PBUH) had instructed us to pay the wages of the worker before his sweat dried and no law could override this spirit of dignity of labour. "Depriving the complainant of pensionary benefits and deductions of salary paid in performance of duty is unlawful on the part of the Agency", he concluded and directed the Agency to pay the recovered amount to the complainant.
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