Assets of co-ops could not be attached by PF dept for dues
December, 28th 2007
The Employees Provident Fund Organisation was not bound by any commitment between the State Government and a co-operative for making good the arrears of PF contribution by employees, the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court has ruled.
Any assistance promised by the Government to co-operatives as arrears available so as to fall under Section 8(f)(2) of Employees PF & Miscellaneous Provisions Act could not be considered, the court has held.
Hearing a writ petition from Puduppatti Primary Agricultural Co-operative Bank, Ramanathapuram, challenging a notice dated 1-8-2006 of the Recovery Officer, EPF Organisation, Madurai to attach properties of the co-operative bank for PF dues, Mr Justice K. Chandru declined to accept the contention of the petitioner that amounts due to them were deemed to have been borrowed by the State and the said dues had to be realised from the Government.
The petitioner was an employer by itself, the judge said. It could have dealing either from borrowers or it could raise loans by selling/mortgaging its own property to clear outstanding. It was in that context, the word arrears in Section 8(2) should be understood, and it did not refer to any amount promised by the Government by way of a rehabilitation measure.
When there were PF arrears from the society, notice of attachment and necessary warrants were issued by the Recovery Officer of EPFO consequent upon liability of society by virtue of the EPF Act. Unless orders of coverage were under challenge, consequential orders could not be a subject matter of any dispute.
It was for the PF Department to decide its own mode of recovery, the judge ruled.
Attachment of properties for PF dues was under challenge on the ground that the Recovery Officer should have proceeded to recover the amount from the district central bank, as amounts had been promised to be repaid by the State Government with a view to rehabilitating all societies.
In these circumstances, the writ petition was misconceived and would stand dismissed, the judge said.