Kerala HC Directs EPFO To Enable Opting Of Higher Pension Without Production Of Copies Of Option Under Para 26(6) Of EPF Scheme
The Kerala High Court has directed the Employees Provident Fund Organization to make adequate provisions in their online facility to enable the employees/pensioners to opt for higher contribution without the production of the copies of option under paragraph 26(6) of the EPF Scheme, 1952.
The bench of Justice Ziyad Rahman AA passed the Order on a batch of pleas concerning legal entitlement of the petitioners for higher pension, as per the provisions of the Employees Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952.
“…the Employees Provident Fund Organization and the authorities under the same are directed to make adequate provisions in their online facility to enable the employees/pensioners to furnish the options in tune with the directions of the Honourable Supreme Court, without the production of the copies of option under paragraph 26(6) of the Scheme, 1952 and the details thereof, for the time being”, the Court directed.
The Court also added that if appropriate modifications cannot be made in the online facility, feasible alternate arrangements, including the permission to submit hard copies of the options, shall be made.
The grievance raised by the petitioners was that one of the details to be furnished in the said option form was the copy of the permission under para 26(6) of the Employees Provident Fund Scheme, 1952.
According to petitioners, even though they were permitted to pay the contribution based on the salary, exceeding the ceiling limit prescribed (Rs 5,000/- and Rs 6,500/-), as contemplated under para 26(6) of the Scheme 1952, no formal option has been submitted.
According to them, submission of such an option was never necessitated or insisted upon, and instead, higher contributions were being accepted all along by the EPFO. Therefore, they are unable to fill up the said column in the online option form.
Advocate P.N. Mohanan appeared for the petitioners and Advocate Nita N.S appeared for Respondent.
The Court noted that “…the Honourable Supreme Court fixed the cut-off date as 3.05.2023 for submitting the options. Now on account of the insistence from the EPFO to furnish the details of the option under para 26(6)of the Scheme, 1952, and also in view of the peculiar nature of the online facility provided for such submissions, they are now prevented from submitting the said options.”
The Court observed that if they were not permitted to submit their options before the cut-off date, they would be deprived of their opportunity to claim the benefits.
Thus the Court passed the interim Order.
Cause Title- Saheer S & Ors. v Union of India & Ors.