For a scam free 2011, EPFO bares its ‘doubtful’ officers

A new list of 'Officers of Doubtful Integrity' who are not posted to sensitive or corruption prone areas seems to be delivering results for the Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO). In the backdrop of a slew of cases of provident fund (PF) evasion or irregularities in PF assessment in previous years, 2011 marks the first scam-free year for the Fund in the last four years.

This is being attributed to strong measures taken to prevent irregularities, including a detailed circular on Combating Corruption that was issued to standardise operations in the field. Besides, monitoring of officers through the introduction of new revised forms to ensure that inspections are carried out comprehensively and are reflected in quantifiable terms and initiation of swift action against erring officials seems to have worked as a deterrent. Besides, any major case that comes to light is immediately referred to the CBI for investigation, an official involved in the exercise said.

Earlier, in 2010, a case of evasion of Provident Fund dues by Pratibha Industries Private Ltd in respect of their construction workers and contract employees involving around Rs 25 crore was detected. A criminal case was subsequently filed by the CBI against Sanjeeva Rao, Regional PF Commissioner. In 2009, there were three major cases, including the non-implementation of statutory benefits under the Employees' Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952 by Delhi-based BL Kashyap and Sons Ltd and evasion in Provident Fund enrollments by another Delhi-based firm BL Gupta Construction Private Ltd. There was also a case entailing irregularities in conducting recovery proceedings in respect of Mohan Goldwater and Breweries Private Limited, Lucknow. The case of BL Kashyap and Sons was referred to the CBI who have registered a First Information Report against nine EPFO officials, including one Additional Central Provident Fund Commissioner, as well as company officials. In the case of the irregularities detected at B.L. Gupta Construction Private Ltd., chargesheet for major penalty under Rule 10 of Employees Provident Fund Staff (CCA) Rules have been issued against four Enforcement Officers. In the Mohan Goldwater and Breweries instance, the case was referred to the CBI for investigation for the role played by the concerned Regional Provident Fund Commissioner and other officials.

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