The Provident Fund Appellate Tribunal Rightly Rejected a Belated Appeal

The appellant challenging the order passed in December 2011 Under Section 7A of the Employees’ Provident Fund & Miscellaneous Provisions Act, 1952 filed an appeal before the Appellate Tribunal in September 2012, almost after 10 months from the date of order. The appellant along with its memorandum of appeal, submitted condonation of delay petition stating that the delay in preferring the appeal was mainly due to the fact that review application pending before the EPF authority was finally disposed of in August 2012, a month before filling of the appeal before the Appellate Tribunal. The EPF authority stated that the appeal is not maintainable since it has been time barred. The labour law advocates of both sides argued on the issue of maintainability of the appeal.

As per the provisions an appeal has to be filed within sixty days from the date of order. A further grace period of sixty days is available provided that sufficient cause has been shown for such delay. So in total, after the expiry of sixty days appeal cannot be entertained in any form.

The EPF Tribunal found out that in the instant case, the appellant challenged the order passed U/S 7A but did not challenge the review order. However, the appellant has taken the plea that the delay in filing of the appeal was because of the review order. Since the review order has not been challenged, the Appellate Tribunal rightly held that it cannot take cognizance of the review order. The appellant had the opportunity to file the appeal within a period of sixty days or to avail the additional sixty days showing sufficient cause for such delay. Though the labour law advocate argued the matter strongly on behalf of the appellant, the Appellate Tribunal held that the appellant got ample of opportunity to file the appeal within the stipulated time but they failed to avail and/ or utilize such opportunity. Even the Limitation Act is not applicable in this case. Hence, the appeal was rightly dismissed by the Appellate Tribunal as it is time barred.

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