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Report No. 137

1.5. The deleterious consequences of delays.-

The distress occasioned by delays in disbursements scarcely needs to be stressed. The problem arises mainly in the context of two possible situations. An employee's retirement, or, his death before the date of superannuation. In the event of his retirement at the fag end of his working life he is suddenly faced with a frightening scenario. From the very next month of his retirement his income ceases. On what does he live? He can only clutch at the provident fund benefits which he can utilise: (1) in some venture; or (2) in some income yielding investment; or (3) for acquiring some housing accommodation.

Or he may need the funds to complete the education or to perform the marriage of his children. Delay in disbursement would naturally result in an unbearable predicament. In the event of his death, the plight of his widow, children, or, parents, can be readily visualised. A letter of complain quoted in a judgment of the Gujarat High Court [PK. Martiyani v. Regional Provident Fund Commissioner, Ahmedabad, 1983 (2) GLR 927.] arising in the context of a delay of 21/2 years in settling the dues of a widow entirely due to the apathy of the department will help in visualising her plight more vividly:-

"It appears to be expedient in the interest of justice that the letter dated September 25, 1979 in the Times of India, Ahmedabad Edition, dated September 29, 1979 written by Mrs. P.K. Kartiyani of Kottayam which reads as under be treated as a petition invoking the jurisdiction of this Court under Article 226 of the Constitution of India (the clipping of the said letter is annexed hereto and marked Annexure 'A'):

"Sir,-I am unfortunate destitute woman of a backward community. My husband Mr. T.K. Thankappan, died of cancer on April 8, 1977 while he was in the service of Gujarat Refinery, Baroda, as a painter. He left behind me and our three children. Life is a struggle for existence in our case as we have no means of livelihood.

My husband was a member of the provident fund family pension scheme under the jurisdiction of the Regional Provident Fund Commissioner, Ahmedabad. His account No. is GI 4951/55166. Under the scheme, I am eligible to get from the Regional P.F. Commissioner more than Rs. 7,000 towards the Deposit Link Insurance and an amount of Rs. 150 per month towards family pension with effect from April 1977. Ironically, I have not received a single paisa so far from the Regional P.F. Commissioner. The case papers relating to my claim are being tossed about like shuttlecock between the PF Commissioner, Ahmedabad and the Gujarat Refinery, Baroda, under one pretext or the other.

I have been eagerly looking forward to receiving the remittance from the PF Commissioner for the last 2 1/2 years but to my utter disappointment it has not yet materialised. Somehow or the other I now fear that I will not get a single paisa till I too take my last breath. As I am keeping indifferent health, struggling very hard to make both ends meet, I may have to leave behind my three helpless children sooner or later.

As a last resort, I am writing this letter to you with a request to see whether you can help me to get the dues from the P.F. Commissioner through your good offices. As you know, I am staying thousands of miles away from Ahmedabad. In spite of that I sent my representative to the F.F. Commissioner's office twice but his pleadings fell on deaf ears. Please help me: God will help you."

The problem is therefore of profound importance for the employees or their dependents who are suffering presently and are exposed to suffering in future as also for the community which has evolved the benevolent project extending the protective umbrella of provident fund benefits to the employees in order to provide succor to them.

Need for creating Office of Ombudsman and for Evolving Legislative - Administrative measures Inter alia to relieve hardships caused by Inordinate Delays in settling Provident Fund claims of Beneficiaries Back

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