The Imperial Bank of India came into existence by merging three Presidency Banks, namely, the Bank of Bengal, the Bank of Bombay and the Bank of Madras in the year 1921. The Imperial Bank later on was converted into State Bank of India on the 1st July 1955 by an Act of Parliament and the employees of Imperial Bank of India automatically became the employees of the State Bank of India on the terms and conditions as applicable to employees of Imperial Bank of India and this included payment of pension.
This pension was restricted to maximum of Rs. 750/- p.m. and in the case of Senior Staff maximum of Rs. 1,000/- p.m. This continued over hundred years or so. Other than pension the then pensioners of the bank had no other facility / benefit from the Bank. After retirement, the pensioners had hardly any relation with the Bank, the institution, which was dear to them and for which they toiled faithfully and sincerely, throughout their service. Their only contact with the bank was with the Branch from where they were drawing pension and that too only on the day of drawing pension.
Though all the pensioners felt the pinch of the meager pension for so many years, only few pensioners like Late Shri. M. M. Budhraja tried to seek justice form the Bank for several years since 1967, but having failed in his efforts, ultimately thought of bringing the pensioners together and forming an Association in the year 1972 with a view to put-forth the pensioner’s grievances before the Bank Management. However, not much response was received by him from the pensioners.
Similar attempts were also made in Ahmedabad by some pensioners in the year 1973. Thereafter, in 1974, Late Shri L. N. Pabalkar together with Late Shri. R. M. Bajwala and Late Shri R. Y. Kane from Pune thought of doing similar attempts in this direction. They discussed their ideas with some local pensioners and also did correspondence with other pensioners outside Pune conveying their ideas of forming the Association of our pensioners. Their colleagues like Sarva-Shri. G. G. Vaze, C. S. Mehendale, P. T. Chaphalkar, V. R. Dhongde, S. V. Lele and others from Pune as also Shri, J. T. Gurusahani, Shri K. Natarajan and others from Mumbai upheld the idea and had frequent discussions / deliberations over the formation of an Association.
As a result of this, the present association came in to existence on the 19th September 1974 and Late Shri L. N. Pabalkar became the first President.
The Main Objectives of the Association at the formation stage were as under:
1 To organize and foster a spirit of co-operation and fellowship amongst the pensioners.
2 To secure and protect the rights and privileges and to promote the interest and welfare
of all the pensioners by legitimate and constitutional means.
3 To secure for the benefits of pensioners, all kinds of relief’s – financial, medical and any other reliefs.
In the beginning there were hardly 14 / 15 pensioner members who were contributing Rs. 12/- only as yearly subscription. Though the beginning of the Association was very small, due to the dynamic leadership of Late Shri. L. N. Pabalkar, who conducted the activities of the Association with sincerity and taking all the colleagues together, the membership, started growing. The association’s activities were also made known widely to pensioners all over Maharashtra. This helped to enroll pensioners from various places in Maharashtra other than Mumbai and Pune. Initially, the membership was also kept open to pensioners all over India and abroad.
The small unit of pensioners started in Mumbai by Shri. Budhraja stopped functioning in 1976 / 77 and most of its member joined Pune Association. In the year 1979, the name of the Association was changed from State Bank of India Pensioner’s Association Pune to State Bank of India Pensioner’s Association (Bombay Circle) Pune. A large number of pensioners from South also joined Association. They were with us till a separate Association was formed for Madras Circle pensioners. Since 1981 / 82 the membership started growing very fast. Further, from the year 1989, the Association had also started enrolling Family Pensioners and Associates as members. The following figures of membership will make interesting reading.
After the formation of Mumbai Circle Association, similar Associations were established in few other Circles and by 1990; Pensioners Associations were functioning in the remaining circles except in Guwahati Circle where the Association was established in the year 1995.With formation of a separate circle by the Bank in Kerala State, one more Circle Association was established on 03rd March 2001 by the pensioners of that circle. Now there are 14 Circle Associations in the Bank.
In early 1981, the Pune Association had submitted to the Bank the pensioner’s demands pertaining to the following issues: –
Revision of Pension
Dearness allowance at par with serving staff
Introduction of family pension
Introduction of commutation of pension
Refund of pension fund contribution recovered from 1st July 1955 to
31st March 1968.
Refund of Guarantee Fund contribution recovered from Head Cashiers.
Medical Aid and other facilities.
The Bank Management, however, did not respond favorably to any of the above demands. The office bearers of the Association tried to meet the concerned officials of the bank, but the latter had neither time nor desire to talk to them. In the circumstances, the Association had to seek redress by resorting to legal action.
As a first step for Gratuity, the Association filed a writ petition in Bombay High Court. The Payment of Gratuity Act came in force on the 16the September 1972. The Bank however wanted an exemption from the provisions of the Act, but the Government did not accede to the Bank’s request for exemption. The Bank then wanted to introduce commutation of pension scheme in lieu of Gratuity, but the Scheme was not acceptable to the Association.
Ultimately in the year 1977 the Bank decided to pay Gratuity, but delayed its implementation by more than a year. The Association, therefore, claimed compound interest @ 9% p.a. for the intervening period, but the request of the Association was turned down by the Bank. The Association had again no alternative but to make an appeal in the Court. In Bombay 31 and in Nagpur, 11 applications were filed by individual pensioners supported by the Association before the High Court. The Bank thereafter, agreed for a compromise for payment of compound interest @ 9% p.a. on the amount of Gratuity from the date of retirement to the date of actual payment.
The second writ petition was filed in Bombay High Court for claiming refund of Contribution of Pension Fund recovered from the Supervising staff during the period 1st July 1955 to 31st March 1968. On the 19th July 1983, the writ was decided in favour of the Association. The Association then requested the Bank to pay the refund with interest as applicable to provident fund and not at 5% p.a. The Bank, however, declined the request. For this also, the Association was required to approach Bombay High Court, with another writ. This time also the court gave the verdict in favour of the Association and Bank had to pay the interest @ 9% p.a.
|Year|| No. of Members |
(Including Family Pensioners & Associate Members)
Both the above achievements by the Pune Association gave a loud message to all the pensioners of the bank in the country that there was an organization which was taking care of the pensioner’s grievances.
Emboldened by the success in the above cases, the Association decided to take the following problems of the pensioners with the Bank:
1 Removal of pension ceilings.
2 Dearness Allowance linked with cost of living index.
3 Family Pension.
Till 1984, all the Circle Associations were taking up the pensioner’s problems / issues with the respective Circles managements but without success. As need was, therefore, felt for an apex body of pensioner’s Associations to take the pensioner’s problems with the Bank Management. As a result, in the Annual General Meeting of the Bhopal Circle Association, where the representatives of many Circle Associations were present, a decision was taken to form a Federation of all the Circle Associations and accordingly, in September 1984 the Federation of State Bank of India Pensioner’s Associations was established.
As the demands referred to above were completely ignored by the bank, the Federation in the year 1986 decided to file a writ in the Supreme Court and entrusted this work to Delhi Association. Accordingly the writ was filed in 1987 and as a result of this; the Bank submitted to the Govt. its recommendations for reviving the pension scheme with the inclusion of Family Pension Scheme. On receipt of approval from the Government, which perhaps was due to our writ filed in Supreme Court, the Bank implemented the revised pension scheme including Family Pension Scheme unilaterally in August 1988 making it effective from 1st January 1987. The Supreme Court in their judgment dated 23rd February 1989 made few amendments in the Banks package & made it applicable from 1-1-1986.
The year 1984 marked the completion of ten years of service rendered by Pune Association. During these ten years the Association had made an appreciable progress. One important development was that there was vast change in the attitude of the Bank Management towards the Association as well as to the pensioner’s problems. Though the Association is not officially recognized the Bank management started treating the office bearers of the Association with respect and also discussing with them the problems and difficulties faced by the pensioners with a view to finding solutions.
With the establishment of good rapport with the Bank Management, number of problems of the pensioners of the Mumbai Circle were taken up with the Local Head Office and many of them have been solved satisfactorily. Similarly, problems relating to the pensioners all over India were taken up with the Central Management of the Bank by the Federation and many of them have also been solved.
One more achievement of the Pune Association is the confidence it gained from all the Circle Associations in keeping the Federation’s Administrative office at Pune for about six years (1993 to 1999). The achievement of the Federation during these six years have been appreciated very much by all Circle Associations. The Federation’s Administrative Headquarters has been shifted to Delhi in July 1999.
The Pensioners movement in State Bank is now day by day getting momentum as well as appreciation from all quarters. Young (recently retired), energetic and dedicated office bearers / workers are now coming forward to shoulder the responsibility of the Association. The number of pensioners is growing fast and time may come when the number of pensioners may exceed the working staff. In course of time majority of common problems are likely to be solved.