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Superintending Engineer, R.W. Divn v/s Regional Provident Fund Commissioner & Others

    W.P.(C) No. 5606 of 2022, I.A. Nos. 2795 & 2796 of 2022
    Decided On, 03 March 2022
    At, High Court of Orissa
    By, THE HONOURABLE DR. JUSTICE B.R. SARANGI
    For the Petitioner: A.K. Mishra, AGA. For the Respondents: B. Dash, CGC.


Judgment Text
1. The matter is taken up through hybrid mode.

2. Heard Mr. A.K. Mishra, learned Additional Government Advocate for the Petitioner.

3. The Petitioner has filed this Writ Petition seeking to quash the Orders, dated 12.1.2021 & 17.8.2021 under Annexure-1 series passed by the Assistant Regional Provident Fund Commissioner and Assessing Officer, Regional Office, Keonjhar, by which the Petitioner has been directed to deposit an amount of Rs. 1,02,74,054 under Section 7-Q of the Employees' Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952.

4. Mr. A.K. Mishra, learned Additional Government Advocate for the Petitioner contended that the Assessing Officer vide Order, dated 27.6.2016 determined the liability of the Petitioner to deposit Rs. 58,27,810 for the period from October, 1993 to January, 2011 under Section 7-A of the EPF & MP Act, 1952 and also Rs. 72,28,072 under Section 7-Q of the EPF & MP Act, 1952. So far as determination is concerned, no sanction has been made and subsequently, vide Order, dated 19.7.2016, the Assistant Provident Fund Commissioner & Assessing Officer, Keonjhar directed the Petitioner to deposit Rs. 58,27,810 under Section 7-A of the EPF & MP Act, 1952, but the liability under Section 7-Q of the EPF & MP Act, 1952 was not communicated to the Petitioner and therefore, the same could not be paid. As a consequence thereof, show-cause was issued to the Petitioner on 12.1.2021, but the final order under Section 7-Q of the EPF & MP Act, 1952 Act was passed on 17.8.2021 directing the Petitioner to pay Rs. 1,02,74,054. It is contended that such determination under Section 7-Q of the Act has been made in gross violation of the Principle of Natural Justice and, as such, the same is not payable by the Petitioner. It is further contended that while determining the liability of the Employer under Section 7-A of the EPF & MP Act, 1952, the Competent Authority should have given opportunity of hearing to the Petitioner. The Orders impugned, being a composite Order passed under Sections 7-A & 7-Q of the Act, though the Order passed under Section 7-A of the Act is appealable under Section 7-I of the EPF & MP Act, but the Order passed under Section 7-Q is not appealable one, the Writ Petition is maintainable.

5. Since the order under Section 7-Q of the EPF & MP Act, 1952 has been passed independently by the authority, the same is not appealable one, in view of ratio decided by the Apex Court in Arcot Textile Mills Ltd. v. Regional Provident Fund Commissioner and others, 2013 (5) LLN 35 (SC): 2013 (16) SCC 1: AIR 2014 SC 295. Hence, the Writ Petition is maintainable.

6. Issue notice to the Opposite Parties both in main case and Interlocutory Application.

7. Let two extra copies of the Writ Petition be served within three days on Mr. B. Dash, learned Central Government Counsel, as he appears for Opposite Parties Nos.1 & 2 to enable him to obtai

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n instructions or file Counter Affidavit. 8. As an interim measure, there shall be stay operation of the Order, dated 17.8.2021 under Annexure-1 series demanding an amount of Rs. 1,02,74,054 under Section 7-Q of the EPF & MP Act, 1952, till 30.3.2022. 9. Put up this matter along with W.P.(C) No.7613 of 2019.
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