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Madras HC stays show-cause notice on PF arrears
January, 13th 2007
Notice `arbitrary', says firm's counsel

A show-cause notice issued by the Employees' Provident Fund Organisation, Tirunelveli, to a local firm to prosecute the owner for alleged failure to remit the provident fund money in time has been stayed by the Madras High Court.

After hearing the firm's counsel who contended that the issue of show-cause notice was arbitrary and prayedfor quashing the same, Mr. Justice Mohan Ram ordered interim stay.

On behalf of the writ petitioner, Sankar Chemical Lime, Mr M. Arvind Subramaniam submitted that while the arrears of PF money payable amounted to Rs 6,78,860 for the period from August 2003 to December 2005, the show-cause notice dated November 13, 2006 mentioned the amount as Rs 12,99,089.

The firm, engaged in limestone quarrying, had been incurring losses for the past 4 years as demand for limestone had fallen, counsel contended. It wrote to the Regional PF Commissioner, Tirunelveli, requesting grant of an instalment facility to pay the arrears. The Commissioner replied, stipulating conditions for availing the instalment. .

According to the petitioner, the Recovery Officer, Tirunelveli, issued a warrant of attachment on October 12, 2006 of movable property of firm.

The third respondent (Enforcement Officer), the petitioner said, should not have initiated prosecution proceedings subsequent to the notice of the attachment. The respondents had issued the notice mechanically , the petitioner alleged, and prayed for the issue of an order of interim stay of all further proceedings pursuant to show-cause notice.

While granting interim stay, the Judge ordered notice for admission returnable in 6 weeks.

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