Acting on a petition filed by employees of Punjab Engineering College University of Technology (PEC) pertaining to general provident fund (GPF) and pension, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has issued a notice to the institute to reply by July 19.
The case has been filed by as many as 213 petitioners, who are working in the institute at various posts -both teaching and non-teaching - for the last several years.
They all had joined PEC before it became deemed university in 2003. Prior to that PEC was under the UT department of technical education. UT administration had issued a notification dated July 8, 2004 laying down specific mandate with regard to the transfer of the employees from Punjab Engineering College to the Deemed University and the manner in which the benefits with regard to the provident fund and pension were to be extended to the employees, who were transferred to the Deemed University from the Chandigarh administration.
It is submitted in the petition that due to lacklustre attitude of the institute, the accountant general covering the area of the Punjab and Chandigarh passed an order dated July 27, 2006 stating that as the employees of the deemed university are no more the government employees and therefore their GPF and pension accounts cannot be maintained in the office of the accountant general.
It further stated that it was clearly stipulated as per clause 29 of UT administration notification dated July 8, 2004 that no service condition would be modified to the detriment of the employees.
While clause 31 clearly stipulated that the PEC society shall be formed for transferring GPF and group insurance scheme (GIS) and deposit the same to the appropriate head of account of the Chandigarh administration. However, only GIS is being maintained in the appropriate head of Chandigarh administration and not the GPF.
The petitioners claimed that the GPF funds were withdrawn without the consent of employees in a totally arbitrary manner and a corpus was created in State Bank of India.
In the recent audit of PEC, the audit team raised objection that the provident fund and pension fund had not been properly accounted in the proper head and the society created for managing the funds was not registered under the Section 10(22) of the Income Tax Act.
As per the audit objection, the funds deposited in the bank pertaining to the provident fund are liable for levying of income tax.
The petition further stated that the institute again adopted an adhoc approach only with a view to cover up the objections raised by the audit team and took up an agenda before the newly constituted board of management (BoM) for the purpose of creation of two trusts, one each for the management of the provident fund and other for the pension fund and got the agenda passed.
The petition quoted that in all the similarly placed institutions in the country the arrangement of management of PF in case of the erstwhile employees were made to continue with the respective AGs.
The petitioners urged the court to direct the institute not to place the provident and pension funds in the custody of newly formed trusts and asking the PEC authorities to place the provident and pension funds in the appropriate head of the Chandigarh Administration strictly as per the notification to ensure that the pension of the employees was fully secured.