The Rajashthan High Court dismissed a PIL seeking direction to deduct TDS from the PF account of retired employees who opted to continue GPF terming it as 'Publicity Interest Litigation'.
The PIL filed by one Kshitiz Sharma sought to direct to deduct the TDS from the provident fund account of the Retired employees who have availed the option to continue their GPF account; to recover the tax from the subscribers from whom account respondent have failed to deduct TDS; and to direct the State to give option to continue with GPF account without adding other pension benefits.
The Petitioner alleged that the State Government by exercising powers under Article 309 of the Constitution and Rule 21C of Rajasthan Services Rules, 1951 formulated The New General Provident Funds Rules, 1997. The new rules will reduce and minimize the difficulties faced by the government servants in getting their provident funds. As a result of this, the account holders can deposit their gratuity, commutation of pension, leave encashment in their provident fund account. This scheme can be misused by retired employees through taxation laws, meant only for servicing employees.
Rule 21 of the Rules of 1951, wherein sub-rule (1) of Rule 4 of the Rules of 1997 was substituted read as:
'An account holder/ an AIS Officer of Rajasthan Cadre on his retirement shall have the option of continuing his Provident Fund Account with the department for any period for depositing pensionary benefits like amount of gratuity, commutation of pension, maturity claim of insurance, encashment of balance of Privilege Leave etc. An account holder/ an AIS Officer of Rajasthan Cadre whose account has been closed shall also be eligible to get his account revised and continue for aforesaid deposits. This facility shall also be available to the retired Judges of Rajasthan High Court at their option'.
The HC referred to the SC decision in Ram Narain Sharma v. State of Rajasthan, in which it was held that the court should be extremely careful to see that under the guise of redressing a public grievance in the name of public interest litigation, it does not encroach upon the sphere reserved by the Constitution to the Executive and the Legislature. Imposters and busy bodies or meddlesome interlopers masquerade as crusaders of justice.
After going through the content of the writ petition along with the facts and circumstances, the court held that there is no ground for exercising jurisdiction under Article 226 of Indian Constitution and doesn't fall under the purview of PIL.
"This way of Public Interest Litigation is nothing more than a 'Publicity Interest Litigation'", observed a bench comprising Justices Goverdhen Bardhar and Chandra Kumar Songra.
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