Posted Date: 11th August 2022
Relating to which Act: The Employees Provident Funds & Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952
Type: Supreme Court Judgement
Pertains to employers and employees
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Karma Global is into Payroll and Payroll Compliance Services i.e. PF, ESI, PT & LWF. It has hundreds of clients where the monthly payroll, as well as PF & ESI challans, are generated since it handles the PF compliance work of these clients as well.
EPF Pension which is a part of PF compliance, in this case, the high courts had allowed a pension in proportion to the salary above the ceiling limit of Rs.15,000/- but later on, the EPFO and Union government sought to review, and the matter was re-opened for hearing on merits.
After 6 days of the hearing, the Supreme court has Reserved Judgment On Appeals Of EPFO
Subject: EPF Pension Case: Supreme Court Reserves Judgment On Appeals Of EPFO
For greater details, appended below is the supreme court judgment
EPF Pension Case: Supreme Court Reserves Judgment On Appeals Of EPFO
The Supreme Court on Thursday reserved judgment on the appeals filed by the Employees Provident Fund Organization challenging the Kerala, Rajasthan, and Delhi High Court judgments which had quashed the Employee’s Pension (Amendment) Scheme, 2014.
A 3-judge bench comprising Justices Uday Umesh Lalit, Aniruddha Bose, and Sudhanshu Dhulia reserved judgment after 6-days of hearing.
In 2018, the Kerala High Court while setting aside the Employee’s Pension (Amendment) Scheme, 2014 [2014 Amendment Scheme], allowed paying pension in proportion to the salary above the threshold limit of Rs 15,000 per month. The High Court also held that there can be no cut-off date for joining the pension scheme. In 2019, the Supreme Court dismissed the Special Leave Petition filed by the EPFO against the Kerala High Court judgment. Later, in review sought by the EPFO and the Union Government, the dismissal of the SLP was recalled and the matter was re-opened for hearing on merits.
In August 2021, a 2-judge bench of the Supreme Court referred the appeals to a 3-judge bench to consider the following issues: 1. Whether there would be a cut-off date under paragraph 11(3) of the Employees’ Pension Scheme and 2. Whether the decision in R.C. Gupta v. Regional Provident Fund Commissioner (2016) would be the governing principle on the basis of which all these matters must be disposed
The main argument raised by the EPFO is that the Pension Fund and the Provident Fund are distinct and that membership in the latter will not automatically translate into membership in the former. It was argued that Pension Scheme is intended for low-age employees and if the persons drawing salaries above the cut-off limit are allowed to draw pension as well, it will create a huge imbalance within the fund. The 2014 amendments were brought to address the issue of cross-subsidization between the pension and provident funds.
The pensioners disputed the argument of the financial burden raised by the EPFO. It was argued by them that the corpus fund remains intact and the payment has been made from the interest. The pensioners also disputed the argument of the EPFO that there has to be a separate option exercised within the cut-off period to join the pension scheme and contended that the stand of the EPFO is contrary to the statute.
Brief summarization of the hearings on different days is given below
EPF Pension Case: Provident Fund Members Don’t Automatically Become Eligible Under EPS, EPFO Tells Supreme Court[ Day 1]
EPF Pension Case: Supreme Court Asks Centre, EPFO To Show Materials On Cross Subsidy & Financial Burden [Day 2 Hearing Report]
EPF Pension Case: ‘No Deficit In Pension Fund’, Pensioners Tell Supreme Court Countering EPFO Argument Of Financial Burden [Hearing Day 3]
EPF Pension Case: Employees Argue They Can’t Be Asked To Contribute 1.16% Of Salaries Above Rs 15,000 [Supreme Court Hearing Day 4]
EPS Case: Pension Corpus Remains Intact, Payments Coming From Interest, EPFO Can’t Raise Fund Issues – Employees To Supreme Court [Day 5 Hearing]
EPF Pension Case: Why Annual Reports Don’t Reflect Potential Financial Burden? Supreme Court Asks Union, EPFO [Day 6 Hearing]