EPFO order misinterpretation of Supreme Court order, say pensioners

Shine Mohan

Representational Image | File Photo: PTI

New Delhi: Concerns have been raised over the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) order on re-examining cases of higher pension for those who retired before September 1, 2014, without giving option is an overruling of the Supreme Court judgement. PF pensioners have pointed out that the EPFO order released on January 25 was a misinterpretation of the Supreme Court’s November 4, 2022 verdict on higher pension.

A two-judge bench of the apex court ruled in the RC Gupta case (2016) that a cut-off date cannot be set to exercise the option to enable a higher pension by transferring an amount proportionate to the salary to the provident fund. The three-judge bench of the top court upheld this ruling on November 4. Also, on March 23, 2017, the EPFO issued an order to provide a higher pension, following the RC Gupta judgement.

It is based on the RC Gupta verdict and the EPFO order that thousands of people gave options for higher pension. The November 4 judgement does not state that the pension that people were receiving in this manner should be recovered.

The November 4 judgement states that employees who had retired prior to September 1, 2014, without exercising any option, “would not be entitled to the benefits under this judgement”. This means they can no longer give an option. Pensioners opined that the EFPO order dated January 25 was misinterpreting the verdict by considering only paragraph 44(5) of the judgement.

However, the EPFO order states that the “over payment” should be stopped. Employees who retired prior to September 1, 2014, without exercising any option and have been granted pension on higher wages, “their cases need to be re-examined to ensure that they are not given higher pension from the month of January 2023 onwards,” it said. The order also states that the pension in such cases may be “immediately restored to pension on wages up to the ceiling of Rs 5000 or Rs 6500.” In that case, these pensioners would not get any money from next month.

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