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SC quashes PF appeal

New Delhi, Jan. 8: The Supreme Court has allowed around 36,000 schoolteachers and non-teaching staff in Bengal to shift to a general provident fund programme from a contributory scheme, overruling the state government’s appeal and saddling it with a possible additional expenditure of Rs 624 crore a year.

Unlike the contributory scheme of 1981, the general provident fund plan of 1992 offers gratuity, pension and family pension to employees.

A bench of Justices R.M. Lodha and S.J. Mukhopadhyay dismissed the state government’s appeal challenging the 2008 Calcutta High Court direction awarding the teachers and non-teaching staff of all recognized government-aided schools the the general provident fund option.

Appearing for over 300 schoolteachers, counsel Chanchal Kumar Ganguly told the apex court that the Bengal government had taken an arbitrary stand by opposing the general provident fund option.

He said that in 2004, many teachers were granted the option of choosing between the two schemes.

It was contended that no specific cut-off date was fixed by the government for the employees to switch over to the 1992 scheme.

The Supreme Court did not find merit in the state government’s argument that it would have to pay a “huge amount” in pension arrears if the teachers opted for the general provident fund scheme.

“In addition, a further huge amount will have to be borne by the State Government on account of arrear in pension to those who have already retired from service till date,” an affidavit filed by the state government in March last year had said.

The Supreme Court dismissed the argument and the appeal.