None appears on behalf of the respondents in spite of service of notice upon them. Let the affidavit of service filed in Court today be kept with the record.
This appeal is directed against an order dated April 4, 2018 passed in the writ application. By virtue of the order impugned to this appeal, the writ application was admitted directing the parties to exchange affidavits for final hearing of the writ application. However, the prayer for granting interim relief in favour of the appellant firm was rejected by the impugned order.
The subject matter of challenge in the writ application was an order passed by the Assistant Provident Fund Commissioner /OIC, Port Blair on January 17, 2018 under Section 7A of the Employees’ Provident Fund & Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952 by which the total liability of the appellant firm was assessed at Rs.1,81,47,055/-(Rupees One crore eighty one lakhs forty seven thousands and fifty five only).
It is submitted by the learned Advocate appearing on behalf of the appellant firm that after expiry of 15 days from the above order the Bank Account of the appellant firm was not allowed to be operated.
Having heard the learned Counsel appearing for the appellant firm as also the materials including the order impugned to this appeal, we find that in course of considering the prayer for interim relief made by the appellant firm, the learned single judge found that the sheet anchor of the submissions made by the appellant firm was an enquiry report dated May 16, 2017 but the learned single judge found that the order impugned to the writ application was based on materials coming out from the enquiry subsequent to the above inspection report dated May 16, 2017. Such materials had been taken into consideration for the purpose of ascertaining the liability of the appellant firm. It will not be out of context to record here that the learned single judge further observed that the appellant firm had chosen not to appear before the respondent authority in course of enquiry held subsequent to the aforesaid report dated May 16, 2017. As a consequence thereof, the respondent authorities had relied upon the materials available before such authority, which included the balance sheet of the appellant firm. On the basis of the aforesaid observations, the learned single judge was not inclined to grant any relief in favour of the appellant firm. The learned single judge further granted liberty to the appellant firm to secure his entire liability for obtaining an interim relief. The appellant firm was not agreeable.
Considering the aforesaid reasons, we are of the considered view that the order impugned to this appeal does not require our interference. However, it is submitted before us that in the event an opportunity is given to the appellant firm to secure the above liability partially by way of depositing a portion of such liability into a Bank Account and to furnish Bank Guarantee for the rest amount he will be in a position to operate his Bank Account for meeting the routine expenses, a major portion of which includes payment of remuneration of his employees.
Upon further consideration of the aforesaid submissions, liberty is granted to the appellant firm to deposit Rs.1,00,00,000/-(Rupees One Crore only) in favour of the learned Registrar General, Appellate Side of this Court in a short terms deposit in the State Bank of India, Calcutta High Court SPB Branch, 1, Strand Road, Kolkata 700 001 within a period of fortnight subject to the adjustment of any amount realized from the appellant firm in respect of the liability of the firm for the period in question and without prejudice to the rights and contentions of the parties and to extend the period of such deposit from time to time till disposal of the writ application or until further orders, which may be passed in the writ application.
It is also made clear that the aforesaid amount shall not be withdrawn without the leave of the Court.
The rest of the amount, i.e. Rs.81,47,055/- (Rupees eighty one lakhs forty seven thousand fifty five only) shall be secured by way of furnishing Bank Guarantee before the learned Registrar General within a period of fortnight without prejudice to the rights and contentions of the parties.
It is made clear that in the event of electronic transfer of a sum of Rs.1 crore in terms of this order, the operation of the prohibitory order, if any, is stayed only to the extent of transferring of an amount of Rs. 1 crore from the bank account of the appellant firm.
In the event, the appellant firm complies with the aforesaid conditions, there will be stay of operation of the order dated January 17, 2018 passed by the Assistant Provident Fund Commissioner/OIC, Port Blair under Section 7A of the Employees’ Provident Fund & Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952 as also the subsequent order/orders passed in the review application etc. after fulfillment of such conditions till disposal of the
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writ application or until further orders which may be passed by the learned single judge in the above writ application. The order impugned is modified to the extent of the directions given hereinabove. Since no further issue requires to be considered by us in this appeal, this appeal stands disposed of together with the application bearing C.A.N. 2315 of 2018. There will be, however, no order as to costs. Urgent Photostat certified copy of this order, if applied for, be given to the parties on priority basis.