With about 31,000 cases in various courts, the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation(EPFO) is working on a new system for litigation management.

SOP for litigation

The objective is to ensure that all litigation is addressed in a time bound manner and unnecessary cases are not pursued. To this end, a Legal Framework Document (LFD) was approved by the Central Board of Trustees in its meeting on July 30 this year. The document, which is guided by the National Litigation Policy of 2010, has put in place a Standard Operating Procedure(SOP) for defending cases at various courts including those before the National Company Law Tribunal and cases related to bankruptcy.

The LFD also aims to reduce overall litigation of EPFO in courts, encourage redressal of minor issues through alternate dispute redressal forum and institutions within EPFO as well as empanelment of advocates for arguing its cases. The EPFO is now setting up field level committees and task force for litigation management.

Seeking improvement

“The LFD seeks to reorient EPFO to bring qualitative improvement in litigation response system of the organisation,” the EPFO said in a recent circular, adding that further management of court cases will be done as per guidelines provided in various chapters of the LFD.

Field level committees are also being set up for overall implementation of all aspects of the LFD and efficient litigation management. The task force, which will be set up at the EPFO’s head office, will analyse reports of the zonal committees and take necessary action.

According to the LFD, the EPFO also proposes to make extensive use of technology to further improve its litigation management and plans to engage extensively with premier law institutes to strengthen handling and management of such cases.

The provident fund manager has 6.54 lakh contributing establishments, 5 lakh contributing members and 70 lakh pensioners. Many cases pertain to determination of dues under Section 7A and levy of damages under section 14B of the EPF & MP Act. Further, cases are also filed under Consumer Protection Act, 1986 for deficiency in service. With over 24,000 employees, the EPFO also has service related cases in the Central Administrative Tribunal and other courts.