New Delhi, July 13 (IANS) In a significant move,the Centre has directed all state governments that they may give one time option to those All India Service personnel, who joined in a vacancy advertised prior to notification for implementation of the National Pension Scheme (NPS) i.e December 22, 2003, and those who are covered under NPS on joining government service on or after January 1, 2004, to be covered under the provisions of the old pension scheme.
Interested employees can avail this one time option by November 30, it added.
Eligible employees will be issued orders to avail old pension scheme by January 31, 2024 and subsequently, their NPS accounts will be closed by March 31, 2024.
The Department of Personnel and Training, in a letter dated July 13 to all the Chief Secretaries of states and Union Territories, said: “The AIS officers, who have been appointed against a post or vacancy which was advertised or notified for recruitment prior to the date of notification of NPS (i.e. December 22, 2003) and who are covered under NPS on joining Service on or after January 1, 2004, may be granted one-time option to be covered under the provisions of old pension scheme (OPS) under AIS (All India Service) (DCRB) Rules, 1958.”
The letter also said that therefore, members of AIS selected through Civil Services Examination, 2003, Civil Services Examination, 2004, and Indian Forest Service Examination, 2003 are eligible to be covered under these provisions.
According to a letter, the move was initiated in response to decisions of various courts and CAT benches allowing benefits of the old defined benefit pension scheme to Government servants appointed on or after January 1, 2004 against the posts or vacancies advertised for recruitment prior to the notification of NPS (i.e. on December 22, 2003), representations have been received in this department from similarly placed members of AIS requesting extension of benefit of pension scheme under AIS (DCRB) Rules, 1958.
The letter also said that the members of service, who prior to joining the AIS were selected in a Central Government service which was covered under CCS (Pension) Rules, 1972 (now 2021) or any other similar rules, are also eligible to be covered under the provisions of d/o P&PW O.M. dated March 3, 2003 and, hence, are eligible to be granted one-time option to be covered under the provisions of old pension scheme under AIS (DCRB) Rules, 1958.
It is clarified that the mobility from one service to another is subject to continuous service and technical resignation, the letter read.
It also said that the option exercised by the members of Service in accordance with these instructions shall be placed before the government of the state on whose cadre the member of service is borne.
“If any clarification is required, a reference may be sent to the Department of Personnel and Training in case of members of Indian Administrative Service; to the Ministry of Home Affairs in case of members of Indian Police Service; and to the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change in case of members of Indian Forest Service,” it said.
“This option may be exercised by the concerned members of Service latest by November 30, 2023. The members of service, who are eligible to exercise the option in accordance with these instructions but who do not exercise this option by the stipulated date, shall continue to be covered by NPS. The option once exercised shall be final,” it said.
It also said that in case the member of Service fulfills the conditions for coverage under AIS (DCRB) Rules, 1958 in accordance with these instructions, necessary order in this regard shall be issued latest by January 31, 2024.
The NPS account of such member of service shall, consequently, be closed with effect from 31 March, 2024. The members of service who opt for old pension scheme under AIS (DCRB) Rules, 1958, shall be required to subscribe to the General Provident Fund (GPF).
The Congress governments in Rajasthan, Chhattisgarh and Himachal Pradesh have already announced to implement the old pension scheme in the state. The Congress has made OPS an important issue in run up to the assembly polls in Karnataka also and has also announced to implement it in Madhya Pradesh, if it is voted to power.