Odisha carpenter's kin win battle for benefits

By Rahul Chhabra, New Delhi, Aug 25 : The family of a dead carpenter in Odisha will soon get his provident fund dues with the top consumer court ruling that such a benefit would not cease if the individual concerned was shifted from one department to another in the same organization.

The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission came to the help of the family of G.S.M. Reddy who subscribed to a provident fund and family pension scheme for over three years before dying in 1987.

Presiding Member K.S. Chaudhari and Member B.C. Gupta slammed the Regional Provident Fund Commissioner in Bhubaneswar for harassing Reddy's family by denying the benefits of the benevolent scheme.

"The contention of the PF commissioner that by transfer from one establishment to another establishment his (Reddy) membership got suspended does not have any force," said the top consumer court in a recent order.

"In this case, it is a transfer from one division to another division within the same organisation and by no stretch of imagination, it can be counted as break (from the scheme)...," said Chaudhari.

Reddy joined in 1981 as a carpenter in the office of the executive engineer, Podagada Dam Division, Nabarangpur district. The Podagada Dam Division establishment was covered under the Employees Provident Fund Act (EPF) 1952 from July 31, 1983. A deduction from the salary of Reddy started from August 1983.

In November 1983, Reddy, along with some other employees, was transferred to the Kapur Dam Division which, at that time, was not covered by the provident fund scheme.

Kapur Dam Division was covered under the EPF Act from Nov 30, 1986.

Reddy died March 7, 1987.

The provident fund commissioner's counsel said the order passed by the district forum, in which it held that Reddy had completed more than two years of reasonable service and was entitled to benefits under the relevant rules, did not reflect a correct appreciation of facts.

The national commission disagreed with the provident fund department and offered relief to Reddy's wife G. Eswaramm, a resident of Nabaranpur district.

"It is very clear, therefore, that the deceased employee became a member of the Family Pension Fund with effect from July 7, 1983...in the Podagada Dam Division. Once an employee is transferred to another division within the organisation, his coverage under the act is not suspended," said Chaudhari.

The provident fund commissioner now has the option of challenging the national consumer commission's order in the Supreme Court.

(Rahul Chhabra can be contacted at rahul.c@ians.in)

--IANS (Posted on 25-08-2013)

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