Poor Pensioners /employees suffering as the Regional Provident Fund Offices are not sincerely implementing the order of the Hon’ble Supreme Court to allow the members of EPS’95 ,the benefit of actual salary in the Pension Fund.
(Exceeding wage limit ,of either Rs.5000/- or Rs.6500/- pm from the effected date respectively)
(Held in CIVIL APPEAL NO(s) 10013-10014 of 2016(Arising out of SLP (C) Nos.33032-33033 of 2015)
More than 18 months has passed ,since Hon’ble Supreme court passed an order dated 4.10.2016, wherein the court directed the Provident Commissioner(PC) ,”At best ,what the PC could do and which we permit him to do under the present order is to seek a return of all such amounts that the concerned employees may have taken or withdrawn from their PF Account before granting them the benefit of the proviso to Clause 11(3) of the Pension Scheme. Once such a return is made in whichever cases such return is due, consequential benefits in terms of this order will be granted to the said employees & allowed the appeals and set aside the order of the Division branch of HP High Court.
Also, RPFC (Regional Provident fund Commissioner) , Chandigarh/ACC (PB & HP) written a series of letters to their HO, New Delhi ,in context to clear their doubts for proper Compliance to Hon’ble Supreme orders. In reply , HO, New Delhi directed them to follow the same orders, intimated vide letter dated 23.03.2017. Thus, Chandigarh office conducted meetings at zonal office level & took some decisions, in this respect. In spite of this, the speed at which cases are being settled ,is not upto the mark & the discrepancies have been found in already settled cases.
Now, the issues being faced by the employees:
- No doubt , the Retirees case of Revised Pension is being settled by the Department but at the time of settlement , the department is not considering to adjust the employees dues and interest on it, and, as a result , the retirees are facing issues ,arranging a hefty amount .Even, the Madhya Pradesh High Court in its judgment dated 01.2018,in the case/W.P. No. 4979/2017 ,held that the neither pensioner/member is liable to pay the interest on such amount ,which he withdrew from his account and now depositing for the revision of Pension, nor the department is liable to pay the interest on the arrears of pension to the member.
- The Regional Office, Chandigarh is not settling the new revised Pension Cases of the members who retired after 01.09.2014.It seems ,there is a hitch of joint option (under Para 11(3) of EPS’95) that has been deleted. But, Para (4) has also been added e.f. 01.09.14 , under which existing members can continue to contribute on salary exceeding fifteen thousand rupees per month, giving a fresh option. Moreover, RO Bathinda & RO Shimla(HP) has already settled so many cases, for the ones who retired after 01.09.2014 under the new revised Pension Scheme. It is very clear after the Hon’ble Apex Court Decision held in 2016 in the case of R.C.Gupta Vs. RPFC , wherein, the Court has directed the department to give the benefit of the Scheme, without applying the cut-off date. Moreover, the Rajasthan High Court, in its Double Bench (DB) judgement dated 05.01.2018 in the case of Ajay Batra Vs.RPFC & others (17276/2013) has allowed pension on higher/full salary as the appellant was superannuated in 2016 & negated the contention of the EPFO that post 01.09.2014 ,retirees are not eligible for the benefit of the Supreme Court orders in the case of R.C. Gupta.
- RPFC , Chandigarh & other ROs are claiming from the retirees/members 1.16% of the total Wages, from 16.11.95 to 30.08.2014 wrongly, as there is no provision under the PF & Misc. Act 1952.Their contention is ,if the department will not claim such amount for such period ,the dept. will be bankrupt, but the Dept. having a hefty amount of more than fifty thousand crore , as unclaimed amount of poor/ignorant members. Although, it is a social security scheme enacted as a Central Act by the Govt. to secure the safeguard of the employees. The State & the Central Govt employees, normally get pension about 40% of the total last salary, at the time of normal retirement .From the other side, The PF retirees, who are not more than 5% of the total members are covered ,who will get, only about 25% of the total last salary & that will be ,without DA,after the judgment of Hon’ble Apex Court. In case of mishappening of PF Pensioner /Spouse , nothing is paid against the amount ,deducted at the rate of 8.33% on full/higher salary, throughout his service. Para 12(A) & 13, regarding option for commutation and option for return of Capital/reduced pension respectively, has already been deleted , should be re-introduced.
- PF Deptt, at the time of fixing the new revised Pensions takes 60 months Average Salary, who retires after 01.09.2014 and 12 months Average Salary ,who retires before 01.09.2014.But, it is logically wrong ,if any member retires after 01.09.14 ,but, before 2018, their average salary considering the period 12months , upto 31.08.2014 & onwards the period ,when the members retires before 2018 should be taken. For eg: if any employee retires in Dec 2014, his last salary of December2014 remain 75000 .But, 60 months average comes down to Rs 68000 pm .On the other side, members who retires in Aug 2014 draws last salary of August 70000 & average for 12 months comes 68500 pm. Pension will be more of the member who has retired in Aug 2014 and drawing average salary less than the other one, who retires in Dec.2014 & drawing more salary.
- ROs are not considering the cases of new revised Pension of the widows of the Pensioners, although Para 16 A of EPS’95 protect the benefits of the members/ beneficiary, under the scheme. Para 16 A says, none of the pensionary benefits, under this scheme shall be denied to any member or beneficiary ,for want of compliance of the requirements by the employer under sub Paragraph 1 of Paragraph 3 provided, however, that a employer shall not be absolved of his liabilities under the scheme.
- Eligible Claim under EDLI Scheme should also be covered under the New Revised Pension Scheme.
- Exempted employees of the trust should also be covered under the new revised Pension Scheme. Provident Fund Department ,only grant the exemption to the trust for the Pension Fund ,if the trust has better terms and conditions/rules ,than the EPS Scheme. So, whosoever manage the Pension Fund should implement the New Pension Scheme. If any trust, doesn’t implement it under their rules, Provident Fund Office should comply the Scheme under the Provident Fund & Misc. Act 1952 & penalized the defaulter Trust, under rules
It seems, that the staff which has been deputed at the Regional Office for Pension Revision and special teams , who are visiting various establishments are not proving effective. Therefore, to avoid the unnecessary litigation & harassment to the members/Pensioners , deptt. should settle the cases sincerely, smoothly and in a speedy manner.
(Guided by Mr. Krishan Murari, Retd. Labour Welfare Officer ,Sugar Mills)
M.A. , LL.B , AD LLs