Anna University PF case | Madras High Court permits university to deposit ₹73.23 lakh in three monthly instalments

The money is to be deposited before the Central Government Industrial Tribunal as a pre-condition to the granting of an interim stay, to a demand raised for provident fund dues to the tune of ₹2.44 crore to be paid by the university to contract employees

Published - June 11, 2024 03:17 pm IST - CHENNAI

A view of the Anna University in Chennai

A view of the Anna University in Chennai | Photo Credit: VELANKANNI RAJ B

The Madras High Court on Tuesday, June 11, 2024, permitted Anna University to deposit, in three monthly instalments, an amount of ₹73.23 lakh before the Central Government Industrial Tribunal (CGIT) as a condition to hear a statutory appeal preferred by the varsity against the Coimbatore Regional Provident Fund (RPF) Commissioner’s order to pay dues to the tune of ₹2.44 crore to contract employees.

A Division Bench of Justices J. Nisha Banu and P. Dhanabal ordered that the first instalment be deposited on July 11 and the last instalment be paid on September 11 this year. Once the payment has been made, the tribunal was directed to hear the university’s statutory appeal, filed against the RPF Commissioner’s February 8, 2022 order, purely on merits and dispose it of within 12 weeks thereafter.

The orders of the Division Bench were passed while disposing of a writ appeal filed by the university challenging a single judge’s August 16, 2023 order permitting the university to deposit 30% (₹73.23 lakh) as a condition to hear the statutory appeal instead of 45% (₹1.09 crore) that had been ordered to be deposited by the tribunal on May 12, 2022 to stay the RPF Commissioner’s ₹2.44 crore demand.

The university had approached the High Court citing the strong chances of succeeding in the statutory appeal and the not very good financial position as reasons for not being able to deposit 45% of the demand as directed by the tribunal. Appearing before the Division Bench led by Justice Banu, the university counsel said, the institution would be able to deposit only ₹50 lakh in three instalments.

However, the Bench refused to accept the submission and said, the single judge had shown enough indulgence by reducing the amount to 30% and the only other indulgence that could be shown by the Division Bench was to permit the payment of the 30% in three instalments. It then proceeded to dispose of the writ appeal with the consent of the standing counsel for the RPF Commissioner.

Justice Banu made it clear that her Bench was not going into the merits of the issue and that it would be up to the tribunal to decide whether the Employees Provident Fund and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952 would be applicable to the university or not and whether it was liable to discharge its provident fund liabilities, if any, with respect to the contract employees engaged by it.

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