A select group of central government employees have been given a one-time option to opt for the old pension scheme, according to a Personnel Ministry order.
The matter has been examined in consultation with the Department of Financial Services, Department of Personnel & Training, Department of Expenditure and Department of Legal Affairs in the light of the various representations/references and decisions of the courts in this regard, it said.
Who Is Eligible To Opt For Old Pension Scheme?
The employees who joined the central government services against posts advertised or notified before December 22, 2003, the day National Pension System (NPS) was notified, are eligible to join the old pension scheme under the Central Civil Services (Pension) Rules, 1972 (now 2021), said the order on Friday.
“Representations have been received…from the government servants appointed on or after 01.01.2004 requesting for extending the benefit of the pension scheme under Central Civil Services (Pension) Rules, 1972 (now 2021) on the ground that their appointment was made against the posts/vacancies advertised/notified for recruitment prior to notification for NPS, referring to court judgments of various Hon’ble High Courts and Hon’ble Central Administrative Tribunals allowing such benefits to applicants,” the order said.
“It has now been decided that, in all cases where the central government civil employee has been appointed against a post or vacancy which was advertised/ notified for recruitment/appointment, prior to the date of notification for NPS i.e. 22.12.2003 and is covered under the NPS on joining service on or after 01.01.2004, may be given a one-time option to be covered under the CCS(Pension) Rules, 1972 (now 2021),” the order said.
Those government servants who are eligible to exercise the option, “but who do not exercise this option by the stipulated date”, shall continue to be covered by the NPS, it added.
What Is The Last Date To Opt For Old Pension Scheme?
This option may be exercised by the government servants concerned latest by August 31, 2023. The option once exercised shall be final, the order said.
The matter regarding coverage under the CCS (Pension) Rules, 1972 (now 2021), based on the option exercised by the government servant, shall be placed before the appointing authority.
In case the government servant fulfils the conditions for coverage under the CCS (Pension) Rules, 1972 (now 2021), necessary order in this regard shall be issued latest by October 31, 2023, it said.
The NPS account of such government servants shall, consequently, be closed with effect from December 31, 2023.
The National Movement for Old Pension Scheme (NMOPS), an umbrella body of more than 14 lakh central and state government employees, has welcomed the government decision.
“It is good news for the eligible central government employees. We again ask the central government to amend the existing NPS to ensure that the benefits of the old pension scheme can be extended to all central government staff,” NMOPS Delhi unit head Manjeet Singh Patel said.
Moreover, the debate around the difference between OPS and the NPS (earlier known as the New Pension Scheme) is not new and it has made headlines from time to time.
OPS and NPS: Key differences
- A retired employee receives 50% of their last drawn salary as monthly pensions in the OPS. On the other hand, NPS is a contributory pension scheme where the employee and the employer contribute their respective shares.
- The OPS is a defined pension scheme of Govt. of India, whereas NPS is a contributory pension scheme.
- Only government employees were eligible for receiving a pension after retirement in OPS. NPS covers the private sector as well.
- The expenditure incurred on the OPS is borne by the government. NPS is based on market based returns over the long term.
Meanwhile, the deadline for opting for higher pension for members of Employees Pension Scheme 1995 (EPS) who retired before September 1, 2014, ended on Saturday.
However, other members of the EPS can apply for higher pensions till May 3, 2023, a labour ministry statement said.
“The Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO) closed the options on 4th of March 2023 for the retired EPS members (prior to 01.09.2014 and whose options were not considered earlier). It has received 91,258 online applications from this category of employees as on March 4, 2023.” The EPFO has been making all-out efforts to publicize the process of joint option which can be submitted online till 3rd May, 2023, it stated.
(With PTI inputs)
Read all the Latest Business News here