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Date of Birth cannot be allowed to be changed later in job: SC

If you sleep over your rights, thinking someone else will fight your cause, then you may just about forget getting any relief from the courts at a later stage.

This harsh truth recently dawned upon nearly 100 employees of Uttar Pradesh Jal Nigam who retired at the age of 58. They had watched the proceedings on the petitions filed by nine of their colleagues seeking parity with other government employees, whose retirement age was fixed at 60. 

The Supreme Court in a 2005 judgment gave relief to these nine officers asking the government to extend their retirement age to 60.

And then, there was a flood of petitions from the left out employees, who retired at the age of 58, in the hope of getting two years' salary on the basis of the relief given to their nine colleagues.

Disappointment was in store for them, for the Supreme Court in a recent judgment rejected their petitions saying as they slept over their rights for years, they cannot claim relief at a belated stage.

"If they had been vigilant enough, they could have filed writ petitions as others did in the same matter," said a Bench comprising Justices A R Lakshamanan and A K Mathur. 

And the judgment could chasten many others, for it ruled: Whenever it appears that the claimants lost time or whiled it away and did not rise to the occasion in time for filing writ petitions, then in such cases, the court should be very slow in granting relief to the claimants who woke up late in the day.

The court cannot come to the rescue of such persons when they themselves are guilty of "waiver and acquiescence", the Bench said accusing the retired employees of not exercising their right while they were still in service.

It accepted the contention of the Jal Nigam that if relief is granted to such a large number of employees at this belated stage, it would financially drain the corporation, putting it on the brink of collapse. The Bench said:

"Only those persons who have filed the writ petitions when they were in service or who have obtained interim order for their retirement, should be allowed to take benefit and not others."

So, the moral of the story is that if you think your right has been violated, wake up and immediately seek redressal rather than wait for somebody else to fight for you.

Source: TOI