Employees' Provident Fund Organization (EPFO) is a Central Government Organization established by the Indian Government essentially to ensure a decent post retirement life to the millions of industrial employees of India, both from the private and public sector.
10. We do not see how exercise of option under paragraph 26 of the Provident Fund Scheme can be construed to estop the employees from exercising a similar option under paragraph 11(3). If both the employer and the employee opt for deposit against the actual salary and not the ceiling amount, exercise of option under paragraph 26 of the Provident Scheme is inevitable. Exercise of the option under paragraph 26(6) is a necessary precursor to the exercise of option under Clause 11(3). Exercise of such option, therefore, would not foreclose the exercise of a further option under Clause 11(3) of the Pension Scheme unless the circumstances warranting such foreclosure are clearly indicated.
11. The above apart in a situation where the deposit of the employer's share at 12% has been on the actual salary and not the ceiling amount, we do not see how the Provident Fund Commissioner could have been aggrieved to file the L.P.A. before the Division Bench of the High Court. All that the Provident Fund Commissioner is required to do in the case is an adjustment of accounts which in turn would have benefitted some of the employees. At best what the Provident Commissioner 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to do under the present order is to seek a return of all such amounts that the concerned employees may have taken or withdrawn from their Provident Fund Account before granting them the benefit of the proviso to Clause 11(3) of the Pension Scheme.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.
12. Consequently and in light of the above, we allow these appeals and set aside the order of the Division Bench of the High Court.
Recommendations of the PEIC of EPFO under the Chairmanship of Dr. V.P.Joy, IAS CPFC, EPFO in its 38th meeting held on 8.12.2016:
Item No. 3: “The agenda item was deliberated at length and the Committee unanimously decided to comply with the orders of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in SLP No. 33032-33033 of 2015 in the matter of Shri R.C.Gupta & others Vs RPFC (Shimla) & Others, in respect of all similar cases to avoid further litigation in this regard.
However, it was agreed that compliance may be made immediately in respect of the Provident Fund & Pension Members including superannuated cases whose accounts are maintained by EPFO as their details are already available with EPFO and contribution on higher wages has been received by EPFO. Their pension settlement may be regulated in accordance with the order of the Hon’ble Supreme Court by taking joint option from the employee and the employer and transfer/payment to Pension Fund as per details of payable contributions with interest.
In respect of those members of Exempted Provident Fund Trusts whose contribution on higher wages has not been received by EPFO, it was decided that their cases may be examined on verification of books of record of the exempted establishment and the trust regarding compliance to Provident Fund and Pension Fund as per the provisions of the EPF Scheme 1952 and Employees’ Pension Scheme 1995 and the information may be submitted to the committee”.
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