Karnataka Largesse, Bumper Draw

E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: Based on the recommendations of Karnataka Administrative Tribunal (KAT) and a high-power committee, the Karnataka Government sometime back, gave a salary of Rs 25 lakh to one of its employees, a doctor, for absenting himself from work for 19 years.

While the period from 1970 to 1972 was considered ‘Leave ‘, the remaining 17 years was considered, ‘ waiting for posting’. It was also recommended that the doctor should be given his retirement benefits in full.’

This decision is hailed in Management Circles as a milestone and watershed in principles of Arbitration. The IIMs, London School of Economics and Harvard Business School have asked for full details from the GOK so that they could make this a case study for their MBA Programme.

I was lucky to get the Secretary of the High power Committee entering the Vidhan Soudha through the back doors. Lucky, because I had seen the Economist and Wall Street newshounds were waiting for him at the front gates.

“You must have been tired and worn out working day and night calculating the lifetime salary package for the doctor who did not work for the last 19 years.”

“Yes, it was not easy. In all the years he did not work, God knows what the doctor missed out in terms of merit increment, cash that goes with Dhanwantri award etc. We did not reckon the normal increments he would have got, and even left out free samples of medicine, new year gifts such as tabletop calendar, penholder, clips etc.”

“That’s terrible! But you did well by including his retirement benefits.”

“Naturally. Where will he go after his retirement? Since he has never practiced all his life, we wouldn’t be surprised if he didn’t know which end of the sthethescope he should put his ears to. When his own pulse has gone quite weak, it’s grossly unfair to ask him to see a patient‘s pulse. It would be cruel on our part.”

“Do you often get cases where you have to grapple with such moral, legal issues?”

“Indeed, yes. In another case, a trainee engineer did not get the recruitment letter from a State PSU though he was informed of his selection immediately after the interview. The Appointment Letter sent thro’ ‘Speed Post’ did not reach him for years. When he called up, they asked him to wait for the speed post and join duty with the appointment Letter. Recently, when the Company announced a VRS scheme in the Newspapers. The trainee Engineer, who is now 52, has opted for VRS along with claims of stipend, salary, medical benefits, LTA etc!”

“Really! Won’t it cost the Govt. a fortune?”
“I am afraid, it would cost a bomb. This time the trainee –er, the elderly gentleman has included mental cruelty, which you were referring to earlier. He has claimed damages for anxiety while waiting for the postman, erosion of knowledge over the years, agony due to public scrutiny etc..”

“How much it will all come to?”

“We are prepared to settle for Rs 5 crores and hope he will not insist on VRS Payment. Since he never joined duty, the legal dept. feels he is not eligible for VRS benefits.  If he agrees for the amount, instead of sending by post, we will invite him and ask the CEO of the PSU to hand over the cheque to him!”