Rejects EPFO petition for deferment of case
The Supreme Court is likely to post for final disposal in early July a petition filed by retirees and members of the Employees Pension Scheme (EPS), 1995, against the government and the Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO), which administers the scheme.
Senior advocate Ajit Sinha, for the petitioners, in an urgent mentioning before a Bench led by Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi on Wednesday, submitted that the matter was listed for May 2.
The EPFO had, meanwhile, filed an application for deferment of the case to the end of October or in November.
The court rejected the application, assuring the retirees that the matter would be put up for final disposal immediately after the court reconvenes after the summer vacation. The court is due to be closed for the vacation from May 10.
The petitioners have claimed that a 2014 amendment and a 2017 circular exclude thousands from receiving their rightful benefits under EPS 95.
The petitions represent the members of the National Confederation of Retirees, that is about 42,555 former employees from the private and public sector who are members of EPS 95, and the National Confederation of Officers Association, which represents 19,118 people working in the central public sector organisations. Most of the latter group are members of EPS 95.
“It is settled law that pension is not a bounty payment to which an employee is entitled to as a matter of right as retiral benefit for services rendered by him. It is a social security provided for him to lead a dignified life,” the petitioners have argued.
The EPFO’s August 28, 2014 amendment had raised the wage ceiling amount for the scheme to ₹15,000 and amended the option for contribution on higher salary for existing employees, introducing a cut-off date of September 1, 2014.
It had also reduced the pensionable salary considerably by averaging 60 months salary instead of 12 months to determine the last drawn salary amount.
According to the petition, the effect of this amendment is to exclude all new employees who joined after September 2014 from joining the pension scheme altogether; to exclude serving employees from benefiting from the option of contributing to the pension scheme on maximum salary; and to deny the benefit of opting for the scheme to retired employees if they missed the cut-off date.