Supreme Court Asks Centre to Look Into The Matter Closure of GPF Accounts Of 7 Patna HC Judges, Issues Notice On Plea Of Judges
The Supreme Court has issued notice to the Centre and asked it to "duly look into" the matter of closure of the General Provident Fund (GPF) accounts of seven judges of Patna High Court who were elevated from judicial services.
“We will issue Notice,” said a Bench comprising CJI Justice DY Chandrachud, Justice PS Narasimha and Justice JB Pardiwala on the plea filed assailing the direction issued by the Union Ministry of Law and Justice for the closure of their GPF.
Additional Solicitor General KM Natraj, appearing for the Centre, submitted before the Court that the government is looking into it.
Senior Advocate KV Viswanathan, appearing on behalf of the petitioner judges, said that the GPF account may not be closed.
“We will resolve the issue on Friday,” said CJI Chandrachud when he was informed by another counsel that GPF Accounts of judges of Allahabad High Court elevated from judicial services have also been closed in a similar manner.
On Tuesday, during mentioning, the Court was informed that the Union Ministry of Law and Justice has written a letter on December 13 of the last year to the Accountant General of Bihar to immediately stop the contribution and closure of GPF accounts of seven judges of the High Court who were elevated from judicial services.
"Letter with drastic consequences. GPF account was stopped," said Advocate-on-Record Prem Prakash.
In December 2022, the Accountant General communicated the formal decision on the closure of their GPF accounts to the Registrar General of the High Court in view of the decision taken by the Union Government.
"What? GPF account stopped of judges? Who is the petitioner?" asked a surprised CJI.
The Court then directed the listing of the matter today. The direction for closure of their GPF account came in the backdrop of the fact that before elevation as judges of the High Court, the petitioners were covered under the National Pension Scheme as judicial officers.
The proviso to Section 20 of the High Court Judges Salaries and Conditions of Service Act, 1954 provides, “that a Judge who has held any other pensionable civil post under the Union or a State shall continue to subscribe to the Provident Fund to which he was subscribing before his appointment as a Judge”.
The Court has posted the matter for further hearing on next Friday, March 03.
Cause Title- Justice Shailendra Singh & Ors. v. Union of India & Anr.