‘Closure’ of GPF Accounts: SC Orders Release of Salaries of 7 Patna HC Judges

 The Supreme Court on Monday ordered release of the salaries of seven Patna High Court judges, whose General Provident Fund accounts were allegedly closed, on the basis of the position as it stood prior to the controversy over their GPF entitlement.

A bench comprising Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud, Justice P S Narasimha and Justice J B Pardiwala took note of the situation and said that as an “interim measure”, it was ordering release of the salaries of the high court judges according to the position existing before December 13, 2022 when the Union Ministry of Law and Justice took up the issue of their entitlement of GPF.

“The salaries have to be released now. We direct that salaries of the judges, which have been withheld, shall be released to them on the basis of the position as it stood prior to the letter of December 13, 2022 of the Union Ministry of Law and Justice,” the bench said in its order.

The top court clarified that it was passing the order as an “interim measure” and said, “This shall be without prejudice to the rights and the contentions of the parties.”

It has been alleged that the high court judges, who have been elevated from the district judiciary, were not entitled for the enhanced GPF.

The bench said that it will hear and decide the plea on March 27.

On February 24, the top court had asked the Centre to look into the grievances of seven Patna High Court judges who claimed that their GPF accounts had been closed.

The bench had asked Additional Solicitor General K M Natraj, appearing for the Centre, to look into the matter and take instructions on the issue. It had then fixed the plea of the judges for further hearing on March 3.

However, on March 3, it could not take up the plea for the hearing due to paucity of time and listed it for disposal on March 20.

The plea was filed by seven Patna High Court judges — Justices Shailendra Singh, Arun Kumar Jha, Jitendra Kumar, Alok Kumar, Sunil Dutta Mishra, Chandra Prakash Singh and Chandra Shekhar Jha.

On February 21, the apex court agreed to hear the judges’ plea.

On being mentioned, the CJI had said: “What? GPF (General Provident Fund) accounts of judges stopped? Who is the petitioner?”

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