In a major move, a select group of central government employees have been given a one-time option to opt for old pension scheme, according to a Personnel Ministry order.
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.
This option may be exercised by the government servants concerned latest by August 31, 2023.
The move came following various representations/references and court decisions in this regard, it said.
"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 National Pension System, referring to court judgments of various Hon'ble High Courts and Hon'ble Central Administrative Tribunals allowing such benefits to applicants," the order said.
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.
"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 National Pension System i.e. 22.12.2003 and is covered under the National Pension System 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 option, "but who do not exercise this option by the stipulated date", shall continue to be covered by the National Pension System, it added.
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 31st October, 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 a 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 old pension scheme can be extended to all central government staff," NMOPS Delhi unit head Manjeet Singh Patel said.