Supreme Court directs Centre to look into plea of Patna High Court judges over closure of GPF accounts

The Supreme Court on Friday directed the Union government to look into the petition filed by seven Patna High Court judges, stating that their General Provident Fund (GPF) accounts had been closed by the government of Bihar.

The Bench of Chief Justice of India (CJI) D.Y. Chandrachud, Justice P.S. Narasimha and Justice J.B. Pardiwala issued notices to the Union of India and the State of Bihar on the matter. 

The top court of the country directed Additional Solicitor General (ASG) K.M. Natraj, appearing for the Centre, to look into the petition and take instructions on the same.

Seven Patna High Court judges - Justice Shailendra Singh, Justice Arun Kumar Jha, Justice Jitendra Kumar, Justice Alok Kumar, Justice Sunil Dutta Mishra, Justice Chandra Prakash Singh and Justice Chandra Shekhar Jha had approached the Supreme Court on February 21, stating that their GPF accounts had been closed.

The matter was mentioned before the CJI on Tuesday. The CJI queried, whose GPF account was stopped? Who was the petitioner?

The Apex Court then agreed to hear their plea on February 24.

The Patna High Court judges were appointed to the posts of Additional District Judge and Sessions Judge as direct recruits under the Superior Judicial Services of Bihar in April, 2010. Since then, all of them have been part of the National Pension Scheme.

In 2016, the State of Bihar had come out with a policy, which entitled people going from new pension scheme to old pension scheme to get back the amount of their NPS contribution. As per the scheme, the amount could either be kept in the bank account or be deposited in the GPF account.

When those people were appointed as High Court judges in 2022, all of them were also given GPF accounts, wherein they deposited their NPS contribution amount.

In November last year, the Accountant General of Bihar sought clarification from the Ministry of Law and Justice on the legality of transfer of NPS contribution of these judges to GPF by these judges. 

The GPF accounts of these judges were later closed on the direction of the Law Ministry. The judges challenge seizure of their accounts before the Supreme Court.