HC concurs with Labour Court on eligibility for family pension

Our Legal Correspondent Chennai | Updated on March 19, 2012 Published on March 19, 2012

The Madras High Court ruled that the eligibility for ‘family' pension of workers will be if the subscriber of Family Pension Scheme, 1971 dies while on duty/service, while declining to interfere with award dated March 14, 2007 of Central Govt Industrial-cum-Labour Court which made it clear that petition u/s 33C(2) of Industrial Disputes Act was “inappropriate” and there was no room to accept claim of pension seekers.

Mr Justice K. Chandru, hearing writ petitions from legal heirs of workers of Food Corporation of India, Chennai claiming family pension, wondered whether petitioners were entitled for relief. Only question that had to be decided was that when there is a dispute regarding entitlement of petitioners, whether a petition u/s 33C(2) was available for a worker or his legal heirs.

In the present case, there were no monetary dues from the employer. Pension was claimed under the pension scheme. The PF Act itself provided remedies for such dispute, and Regional Commissioner could always decide question of removing doubts.

In respect of pension, under the Pension Scheme, 1955, if any doubt arose, employee was entitled to become a member of scheme, it shall be referred to Regional PF Commissioner whose decision would be final.

FCI had remitted amount to PF dept, who had the authority to consider the same. Since the dept was not employer, such petition was not maintainable u/s 33C(2), the judge ruled. The question of entitlement for pension was available in case of a subscriber who died while in service; and in case of a person who retired from service voluntarily and thereafter died, relief was not contemplated.

The petitioners contended that being legal heirs of workmen, they were entitled for pension. The FCI submitted that family pension was available only when a worker died in harness according to scheme under EPF Act. The PF dept also agreed with same principle.

The judge held that no case was made to interfere with award of CGIT-cum-Labour Court. Writ petitions stood dismissed.

Published on March 19, 2012
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