EPS95 pensioners launch struggle to secure pension on full salary

The Employees Pension Scheme 95 (EPS95) run by the Provident Fund is applicable to employees who made contributions between 1995 and 2014 to this scheme.

The pension contributions were made on a salary ceiling of Rs.6,500 earlier, from out of the employer’s PF contribution.

In 1996, an option was made for employees to contribute on their actual salary, rather than on the limited ceiling amount above, which in any case provided only a meagre pension. Since this was not communicated to employees, no one knew about it, and hardly anyone opted for it. It required a joint option with the employer also, which would have been difficult without the employer’s backing.

In 2014, the EPFO was asked to close this option with a 6 month deadline from September 1, 2014, by which employees had to opt for the contribution on full salary, again with a joint option with employer. This was also not communicated to anyone, and the office also did not make this offer known. If one did not opt in, one is deemed to have opted out of the scheme, although no one knew it existed in the first place.

The EPF authorities in the regions are now refusing to accept claims for pension on full salary [where employees are ready to pay the
difference amount for contribution out of their own funds] citing the time limitation.

However, in 2015, a set of employees led by R C Gupta went to the Supreme Court and got an order in their favour, in which the court observed that there was no limitation envisaged in the PF pension scheme, and the six month deadline was arbitrary.

Against this backdrop, fresh claims are being made to EPFO, to include employees and retirees, for pension on full salary, where they will pay the difference in contribution to the PF Organisation.

A Public Notice was put out by EPFO in The Tribune in Chandigarh, on January 25, 2018, in pursuance of Supreme Court orders in SLP No. 33032 and 33033 of 2015 regarding revision of pension.

Today, EPFO is rejecting claims for inclusion, stating that it is not possible to opt for the full pension because members did not exercise the option before the 2014-15 deadline.

But Clause (ii) of the notice published in the Tribune indicates that members of EPS-95 are eligible for pension on full salary, if they pay the difference between what was remitted under wage ceiling, and amount to be remitted under full salary along with interest. This notice is in pursuance of a case that was decided, rejecting the very limitation that the EPFO continues to cite.

Politically, this is a sensitive issue for the Narendra Modi-led government because a lot of pensioners are litigating for relief in various courts, including the Supreme Court, against the arbitrariness of the government’s move. The Opposition parties including the Congress, CPI (M), Trinamool, DMK, CPI are yet to take it up.

The struggle is harder for members of exempted establishments, since their scheme was administered not by EPFO, but by a Trust.

One resource person on the issue is Praveen Kohli (pkkohli) (phone: +919810306699) who is in Gurugram.

He has won his case and has launched a Facebook drive to bring all aggrieved persons together, and has a membership of close to 42,000 and growing.

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Are you eligible for higher EPFO pension? Read these reports

Can you also get a manifold hike in lifetime pension from EPFO? Find out

//economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/61791855.cms?edition=722&utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst

EPFO directs offices to pay higher pension to eligible EPS members

//economictimes.indiatimes.com/articleshow/64544789.cms?utm_source=contentofinterest&utm_medium=text&utm_campaign=cppst

EPS 95 revamp: An endless wait for retired private sector pensioners

https://www.thehindubusinessline.com/news/eps-95-revamp-an-endless-wait-for-retired-private-sector-pensioners/article22668779.ece

Parveen Kohli vs Employees Provident Fund … on 25 January, 2018
(Central Information Commission order fining PIO of EPFO)
https://indiankanoon.org/doc/41889510/

Full text of SC judgment in Sasikala – Jayalalithaa DA case 2017

Here is the full text of the judgement delivered by the Supreme Court in the disproportionate assets case against Sasikala and others, on February 14, 2017. 

jaya-sasi-conviction2017

The news report on the SC order is here.

B.V. Acharya, the special public prosecutor in the DA case has this to say about the verdict: It shows that the corrupt cannot escape from law. Read his first comments after the order here.

Some of the developments that immediately followed, and reactions on social media went like this:

 

Photos from Cyclone Vardha in Chennai South

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Most roads including arterial Arcot Road seen here near Palmgrove were cut-off due to fallen trees during the crosssing of Cyclone Vardha

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Entrance to Josier Street, Nungambakkam blocked by a fallen tree

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Fallen trees on Arcot Road

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Vehicles had to use one half of the road outside Palmgrove Hotel. Remarkably Uber, Ola and Utoo operated services in the peak of the storm

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A fallen barrier of the Chennai Metro Rail, at LIC station point

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Chennai Metro barriers on Anna Salai, outside LIC

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What you see from a car window at noon, Anna Salai outside Buharis, with fallen tree blocking North-bound half

Impact of Cyclone Varadha

At Tarapore Towers corner, a blurred view of a deserted Anna Salai.

Facing the embargo: 5 ways the U.S. tried to crush Cuba and Fidel

There are many ways in which the United States imposed economic pressure on Cuba to overthrow Fidel Castro. A scholarly, pointed exposition of these often-crude methods is found in “The Economic War Against Cuba” by Salim Lamrani (Monthly Review Press). Here are five paraphrased points from the book, which highlight the scale of American hostility and explain the rationale for some of the decisions taken by Fidel.

1 – On June 29, 1960, the oil companies Texaco, Shell and Esso stopped deliveries to Cuba, thereby forcing the island to obtain supplies from the USSR in exchange for sugar. Responding to a new directive from Washington, the U.S. multinationals also began refusing to refine Soviet oil, thereby triggering the nationalisation of the refineries on the island.

This was followed by the Eisenhower administration removing the import quota of 70,000 tonnes of sugar from Cuba, thus eliminating export prospects for Havana, and prompting the Cuban government to nationalise all US properties.

On February 7, 1962, a full trade embargo went into effect under the Kennedy administration, and in violation of international humanitarian law, included drugs and food. Subsequent expansion of the embargo banned trade in any goods that contained Cuban materials including those manufactured in other countries. Ships with commercial relations with the island were banned from docking at U.S. ports.

2. The Torricelli Act passed into law by George H.W. Bush in 1992 after the fall of the Soviet Union aimed to choke Cuban prospects further. It forbade subsidiaries of the U.S. companies from trading with Havana, which was in any case primarily in the area of food and medicines. It determined the economic and political model for Cuba, including a multiparty system, a reversion to market economy and privatisation of many sectors. Funding for an Opposition was also included.

3. In Bill Clinton’s presidency, an incident occurred involving a plane that was shot down after it attempted to scatter leaflets on Cuba calling for an insurrection. The plan was carried out by a man who was trained by the CIA and took part in the covert war of 1960s against the island. This resulted in the passing of the Helms-Burton Act, on March 12, 1996. It codified into law all the existing trade restrictions, giving only Congress the power to modify economic sanctions.

4. Because of economic sanctions, Cuban hospitals were unable to use transpupillary thermotherapy to treat children suffering from cancer of the retina – the surgical microscopes and other equipment were made by a U.S. company, Iris Medical Instruments.

5. The Helms-Burton Act decided even the school curriculum of the future, requiring foreign instructors to teach Cuban history. It forbade a candidacy for Fidel and Raul Castro, in any future election.

The future of a government in Cuba was defined in the law as one where the U.S.President “will judge whether it meets the requirements established in Section 206”. [Which inter alia¬†calls upon a new government to declare itself committed to a market economy]

Photo: Bryan Ledgard, Creative Commons.

Why did not system reform precede removal of Rs.500 and Rs.1,000 notes?

What are the systemic measures that Mr. Modi will take to prevent hoarding of Rs.2,000 notes as black money by political parties including his own, by jewellers, real estate promoters, big actors, and corrupt civil servants?

Black money is generated in the first place because of transactions at bottlenecks, and failure to make government accountable for services in a time frame [BJP issued no ordinance, did not replace service guarantee bill of UPA]. Any action on that?

Without that measure, the current demonetisation move is unconvincing and suspect. It merely resets the counter for those who did not get advance information about it, while the ‘special friends’ who most likely did get it turned their black into gold or property.

In any case, the effect on day one has been painful for the middle classes, and for trade and services.

Gandhi Chhadi set for Rs.300? Is Swachh Bharat Mission kidding?

So I decided to consider getting a “Gandhi Chhadi” [Gandhi stick] which is a long stick with a pointed metal tip that is useful to pick waste objects off the road without bending. It has been highlighted by Swachh Bharat Mission Urban since last year and a couple of addresses of manufacturers have been provided in a YouTube video.

On enquiry with the first supplier listed in the above video, it turns out they want Rs.300 for a set of these litter pickers and the Mission – yes, a whole Central govt Mission – has no distribution mechanism for this. So it can only be couriered.

Clearly, this shows the emptiness of such campaigns. This low tech device should have been outsourced for production, and made available for everyone to make, like a broom. In fact, modern versions of such pickers are today sold on Amazon, and these have a lever that operates as a gripper.

Not surprisingly, the Mission has not made known a plan to distribute even the old-style Chhadis to municipal workers, who have to keep bending everyday to pick up the trash that you and I toss around carelessly.

This is the one on sale on Amazon India for about Rs.500: http://www.amazon.in/Trash-Picker-litter-Grabber-Collector/dp/B01B3BL4YU?tag=googinhydr18418-21&tag=googinkenshoo-21&ascsubtag=6c15d3ac-81f9-47c4-9f23-c97c47804ded