Thu, 30 Mar 2023

New Delhi [India], January 29 (ANI): Communist Party of India (Marxist) Rajya Sabha MP John Brittas has raised an objection against an Employees' Provident Fund Organization (EPFO) circular which directs stoppage of current higher pension to a large section of retired EPF Pensioners and recovery of the pension amount from them.

John Brittas wrote a letter to Union Minister for Labour and Employment Bhupendra Yadav against the circular which was issued on January 25 and requested the minister to intervene in this matter and demanded immediate withdrawal of the circular.

"The Circular is apparently formulated on some fallacious grounds and distorted interpretation of the Supreme Court judgment referred," Brittas said in his letter.

The Rajya Sabha MP also said that the Circular empowers the EPFO authorities to cease the extant procedure of payment of enhanced pension to the EPF Pensioners and even discuss the recovery thereof.

"In this regard, let me point out at the outset that one of the cardinal facet of interpretation is that a benevolent stance should be taken in favour of the beneficiaries while interpreting a social welfare legislation or incidental judgments thereto. The Employees' Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952 and the pension schemes framed thereunder are undoubtedly social welfare legislations to ensure the right to lead a decent life by employees post-retirement," he mentioned in the letter.

"These employees played a key role in the economic advancement of our country. Their toilsweat is the prime fuel which propels our economy; yet we, more often than not, ignore them and their contributions, knowingly or unknowingly," he added.

Brittas further said, "It is they who tilled the land, worked in the mines and factories, taught our children, managed financial institutions, drove trucks and whatnot during their heydays. They were the wealth creators of our Country. But do we, as a nation, give them ample care and protection during their autumn years?"He also mentioned about the Supreme Court Judgement hasn't directed to put an end to the already sanctioned higher pension to those employees who retired prior to 1st September 2014 without exercising option, but the operative portion of the said judgment dealt with some other aspects, that too mostly in favour of the employees.

"It neither commanded for stoppage of payment of enhanced pension to employees retired prior to 1st September 2014 nor permitted recovery thereof. In the absence of such an explicit dictum in the above judgment, EPFO cannot arbitrarily decide to stop the enhanced pension and order recovery thereof. Besides, such a purported 'Re-examination' of the already sanctioned pension would obviously result in the defiance of the laws of Limitation. Likewise, such enhanced pension were permitted in the past by virtue of dicta of various Courts, including the Supreme Court itself, or reckoning such orders as precedents. The Supreme Court hasn't set aside or modified such orders pronounced by various Courts in its latest judgment" he added.

The Kerala MP said that at no stretch of the imagination, such a distorted interpretation of the judgment will be permissible.

"If such a regressive and callous stand is taken by EPFO, it will cast a shadow on the future of the hapless pensioners of the Employees Pension Scheme and they will be put to a perilous situation," he added. (ANI)

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