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LTC for international travel not an absolute right: Madras HC

Reimbursement for international travel is not an absolute right, ruled the Madras High Court (HC) in connection with State Bank of India (SBI) officers’ claims.

On June 24, Justice S M Subramaniam dismissed a writ petition from the All India State Bank Officers Federation in Chennai and the All India Bank Officers’ Confederation in New Delhi that contested several orders made in 2014 by the relevant authorities and ordered them to continue providing Leave Travel Concession (LTC) to cover international travel as they had done for bank officers before April 2014.

In dismissing the case, the judge noted that it is in the public’s best interest to adhere to the Central government’s policy regarding the LTC given to officers of public sector banks.

Because Rule 44 of the State Bank of India Officers Service Rules, 1992 is not in compliance with the instructions previously issued to help the officers get reimbursement for international travel, they cannot be interpreted as an absolute right granted to the officers of the SBI, nor is there a bipartite agreement or settlement between the parties.
Because the benefit granted to SBI officers under Rule 44 of the SBI Officers Service Rules, 1992 has not been withdrawn, there has been no violation of service rights or conditions, the judge said.

According to the directives of the Union Ministry of Finance and the circular issued by the Indian Bank Association, the concession and the facility extended to receive reimbursement of the foreign travel expenses was revoked.
The facility was provided by way of an additional facility through a letter. All public sector banks must adhere to the central government’s policy, which was accepted by the Indian Bank Association, in the public’s best interest.
Now that this fact has been established, there is no room for further debate or negotiation with the SBI officers because removing this additional facility wouldn’t violate the officers’ service rights or terms of employment, the court ruled.

Giving someone the chance in these circumstances is pointless, and the bank’s executives are not biassed or having their service rights violated, it said.

According to the court, executive actions in foreign affairs should be given more liberty, and the SBI’s decision is in accordance with Government of India policy that was endorsed by Indian Bank Association.

“Thus, this Court does not find any perversity or infirmity in respect of the decision taken by the SBI based on the policy decision of the government of India, which was adopted by the Indian Bank Association. Thus, the writ petition is devoid of merits,” the judge said and dismissed it. (Source: Mint)

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