[Dated 2nd. June, 1997]
In exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (1) of section 21 of the Employees' Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952 (19 of 1952), the Central Government hereby makes the following rules namely: -
1. Short title and commencement
(1) These rules may be called the Employees' Provident Funds Appellate Tribunal (Procedure) Rules, 1997.
(2) They shall come into force from the date of their publication in the Official Gazette.
In these rules unless the context otherwise requires,-
(a) "Act" means the Employees' Provident Funds and Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952 (19 of 1952);
(b) "agent" means a person duly authorized by a party to present an appeal or a written reply on its behalf, before the Tribunal;
(c) "appellant" means a person or the establishment making an appeal to the Tribunal under section 7-I;
(d) "Form" means a form specified in Appendix;
(e) "legal practitioner" shall have the same meaning as is assigned to it in the Advocates Act, 1961 (25 of 1961);
(f) "legal representative" means a person who in law represents the estate of the deceased;
(g) "Registrar" means the Registrar appointed for the Tribunal and includes any officer to whom the powers and functions of the Registrar may be delegated under these rules;
(h) "Registry" means the Registry of the Tribunal;
(i) "Tribunal" means the Employees' Provident Funds Appellate Tribunal established under sub-section (1) of section 7(D) of the Act;
(j) The words and expressions used and not defined in these rules but defined in the Act shall have the same meanings respectively assigned to them in the Act.
3. Language of the Tribunal
The language of the Tribunal shall be English:
PROVIDED that the parties to the proceedings before the Tribunal may file documents drawn up in Hindi, if they so desire:
PROVIDED FURTHER that-
(a) the Tribunal may in its discretion permit the use of Hindi in the proceedings but the final order shall be in English;
(b) the Tribunal hearing the matter, may in its discretion, direct English translation of pleadings and documents to be filed.
4. Procedure for filing appeals
(1) An appeal to the Tribunal shall be presented in Form I by the appellant in person or by an agent or by a duly authorized legal practitioner to the Registrar or any other officer authorized in writing by the Registrar to receive the same or be sent by registered post with acknowledgment due addressed to the Registrar of the Tribunal.
(2) The appeal under sub-rule (1) shall be presented in triplicate in a paper-book form along with one unused file size envelope bearing full address of the respondent.
(3) Where the number of respondents is more than one, as many extra copies of the appeal in paper-book form as there are respondents together with unused file size envelopes bearing the full address of each respondent shall be furnished by the appellant:
PROVIDED that where the number of respondents is more than five, the Registrar may permit the appellant to file the extra copies of the appeal at the time of issue of notice to the respondents.
(4) The appellant may attach to and present with his appeal a receipt slip in Form II which shall be signed by the Registrar or the officer receiving the appeal on behalf of the Registrar in acknowledgment of the receipt of the appeal.
5. Presentation and scrutiny of appeals
(1) The Registrar, or the officer authorized by him under rule 4, shall endorse on every appeal the date on which it is presented or deemed to have been presented under that rule and shall sign the endorsement.
(2) If, on scrutiny, the appeal is found to be in order it shall be duly registered and given a serial number.
(3) If the appeal, on scrutiny, is found to be defective and the defect noticed is formal in nature, the Registrar may allow the party to rectify the same in his presence, and if the said defect is not formal in nature, the Registrar may allow the appellant such time to rectify the defect as he may deem fit.
(4) If the appellant fails to rectify the defect within the time allowed under sub-rule (3), the Registrar may, by order and for reasons to be recorded in writing, decline to register the appeal and inform the appellant accordingly.
6. Place of filing appeals
The appeal shall ordinarily be filed by the appellant with the Registrar of the Tribunal within whose jurisdiction:-
(i) the appellant is residing for the time being, or
(ii) the cause of action has arisen, or
(iii) the respondent or any of the respondents against whom relief is sought, ordinarily resides.
7. Fee, time for filing appeal, deposit of amount due on filing appeal
(1) Every appeal filed with the Registrar shall be accompanied by a fee of rupees two hundred to be remitted either in the form of crossed demand draft on a nationalized bank in favor of the Registrar of the Tribunal and payable at the main branch of that bank at the station where the seat of the said Tribunal is situated, or remitted through a crossed Indian Postal Order drawn in favor of the Registrar of the Tribunal and payable at the post office of the station where the said Tribunal is situate.
(2) Any person aggrieved by a notification issued by the Central Government or an order passed by the Central Government or any other authority under the Act, may within 60 days from the date of issue of the notification/ order, prefer an appeal to the Tribunal:
PROVIDED that the Tribunal may, if it is satisfied that the appellant was prevented by sufficient cause from preferring the appeal within the prescribed period, extend the said period by a further period of 60 days:
PROVIDED FURTHER that no appeal by the employer shall be entertained by a Tribunal unless he has deposited with the Tribunal 75% of the amount due from him as determined under section 7A:
PROVIDED ALSO that the Tribunal may for reasons to be recorded in writing, waive or reduce the amount to be deposited under section 7-O.
8. Content of the appeal
(1) Every appeal filed under rule 4 shall set forth concisely under distinct heads the grounds for such appeal. Such grounds shall be numbered consecutively. Every appeal, including any miscellaneous appeal shall be typed in double space on one side on thick paper of good quality.
9. Documents to accompany the appeal
(1) Every appeal shall be accompanied by a paper-book containing,-
(i) an attested true copy of the order against which the appeal is filed;
(ii) copies of the documents relied upon by the appellant and referred to in the appeal;
(iii) an index of the documents.
(2) The documents referred to in sub-rule (1) may be attested by a legal practitioner or by a gazetted officer and each document shall be marked serially as Annexures Al, A2, A3 and so on
(3) Where an appeal is filed by an agent, document authorizing him to act as such agent shall also be appended to the appeal:
PROVIDED that where an appeal is filed by a legal practitioner, it shall be accompanied by a duly executed "Vakalatnama".
10. Plural remedies
An appeal shall be based upon a single cause of action and may seek one or more reliefs provided that they are consequential to one another.
11. Service of notices and processes issued by the Tribunal
(1) Notices or processes to be issued by the Tribunal may be served by any of the following modes directed by the Tribunal:-
(i) service by the party itself;
(ii) by hand delivery (Dasti) through process server;
(iii) by registered post with acknowledgment due.
(2) Where notice issued by the Tribunal is served by the party himself by "hand delivery" (Dasti), he shall file with the Registry of the Tribunal, the acknowledgment, together with an affidavit of service.
(3) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-rule (1) the Tribunal may, taking into account the number of respondents and their places of residence or work and other circumstances, direct that notice of the appeal shall be served upon the respondents in any other manner including any manner of substituted service, as it appears to the Tribunal just and convenient.
(4) Notwithstanding anything done under sub-rule (1), the Tribunal may in its discretion, having regard to the nature and urgency of the case, direct the service of the notice on the standing counsels appointed as such by the Central Government or any State Government or any other authority under the Act.
(5) Every notice issued by the Tribunal shall, unless otherwise ordered, be accompanied by a copy of the appeal along with a copy of the paper-book.
(6) Every appellant shall pay a fee for the service or execution of processes in such manner as the Tribunal may direct under sub-rule (3) such a sum, not exceeding the actual charges incurred in effecting the service, as may be determined by the Tribunal.
(7) The fee for the service or execution of processes under sub-rule (3) shall be remitted in the manner prescribed in rule 7 within one week of the date of the order determining the fee or within such extended time as the Registrar may permit.
(8) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-rules (1) to (4), if the Tribunal is satisfied that it is not reasonably practicable to serve notice of appeal upon all the respondents, it may, for reasons to be recorded in writing, direct that the appeal shall be heard notwithstanding that some of the respondents have not been served with notice of the application; provided that no appeal shall be heard unless,-
(i) notice of the appeal has been served on the Central Government or the State Government or the Central Board, if such government or Board is a respondent;
(ii) notice of the appeal has been served on the authority which passed the order against which the appeal has been filed; and
(iii) the Tribunal is satisfied that the interests of the respondent on whom notice of the appeal has not been served are adequately and sufficiently represented by the respondents on whom notice of the appeal has been served.
12. Filing of reply and other documents by the respondents
(1) Each respondent intending to contest the appeal, shall file in triplicate the reply to the appeal and the documents relied upon in paper-book form with the Registry within one month of the service of notice of the appeal on him.
(2) In the reply filed under sub-rule (1), the respondent shall specifically admit, deny or explain the facts stated by the appellant in his appeal and may also state such additional facts as may be found necessary for the just decision of the case. It shall be signed and verified as a written statement by the respondent or any other person duly authorized by him in writing in the same manner as provided for in Order VI, rule 15 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908).
(3) The documents referred to in sub-rule (2) shall also be filed along with the reply and the same shall be marked as Rl, R2, R3 and so on.
(4) The respondent shall also serve a copy of the reply along with documents as mentioned in sub-rule (1) on the appellant or his legal practitioner, if any, and file proof of such service in the Registry.
(5) The Tribunal may allow filing of the reply after the expiry of the prescribed period.
13. Date and place of hearing to be notified
The Tribunal shall notify to the parties the date and the place of hearing of the appeal in such manner as the Presiding Officer may, by general or special order direct.
14. Calendar of cases
(1) The Tribunal shall draw up a calendar for the hearing of the cases and, as far as possible, hear and decide cases according to the calendar.
(2) Every appeal shall be heard and decided, as far as possible, within six months from the date of its registration