EPFO asked to clarify stand on Aadhaar-UAN linking

A division bench of Justices S Manikumar and Subramonium Prasad admitted the plea and directed the EPFO to respond.

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Chennai: A petition has been filed in the Madras High Court challenging the notification mandating linking of Aadhaar with Universal Account Number (UAN) for availing pension and provident fund benefits. A division bench of Justices S Manikumar and Subramonium Prasad admitted the plea and directed the Employee Provident Fund Organisation(EPFO) to respond.

In the plea, Elisha Ebenezer, a software engineer, claimed the notification dated 4 January 2017, was unconstitutional for being violative of Articles 14, 21 and 300A of the Constitution and contrary to the directives of the Supreme Court, which made it clear that Aadhaar was mandatory only to avail benefits under various government-run social welfare schemes and subsidies.

The petitioner submitted that prior to the January 2017 notification, the use of Aadhaar was limited to only those members who had begun receiving their pension and who were required to provide life certificates each year to continue receiving the pension.

However, in view of the notification, now all members of the pension scheme would have to link their Aadhaar with their UAN just to continue their membership in the pension scheme.

The petitioner submitted that the pension fund comprises regular contributions from the employee’s salary and therefore to deprive pensioners of the amount citing non-linkage of Aadhaar would also entail a violation of the right to property under Article 300A of the Constitution.

“The present requirement of linking UAN with Aadhaar interferes with my right to operate and deal with my provident fund, which has no government contribution,” the petitioner claimed.

Further, the petitioner submitted that the present requirement also prevented her from saving for her old age or accessing the amounts saved till date in the pension account.

Before that on 5 July Supreme Court had issued notices to the Central government and The Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) on a petition challenging the constitutional validity of Aadhaar ordinance for permitting voluntary use of Aadhaar as identity proof for opening bank accounts and procuring mobile phone connections.

EPFO Pension formula calculation of pension is done like this: The sum of the total years spent by the employee working for the given employer (n) and 2 multiplied by the final salary (s) divided by 70 = (n+2)s/70.

Say, the final salary of an employee who worked for 30 years is Rs 50,000. According to the Supreme Court order, his pension will be Rs 32 x 50,000 ÷ 70 = Rs 22,857 p 14. Under the old rule, this pension could not have been greater than Rs 32 x 15,000 ÷ 70 = Rs 6,857 p 14.

The older, pre-2014 rule was worse. The maximum basic salary for the calculation of pension was Rs 6,400. That meant, by the calculation above, the retired person would get a pension no more than Rs 2,925 p 71 per month.