Jhar HC | ‘Succession Certificate’ issued by a competent court, is mandatory for legal heirs to claim pension under Coal Mines Provident Fund Scheme

Jharkhand High Court: A Division Bench of Dr Ravi Ranjan, CJ and Sujit Narayan Prasad, J. addressed an appeal in which the daughter-in-law of a deceased employee of State-owned respondent company Central Coalfields Limited (CCL) sought for payment of family pension as well as other dues accrued to her mother-in-law after the death of her father-in-law.

In the present matter, the father-in-law of the appellant was an employee of the respondent company. When he died, the appellant’s mother-in-law, who was the nominee, and deceased employee’s son could not get a family pension as they both died. After their death, the appellant agitated her grievance for payment of dues. When asked to produce a succession certificate by the respondent company, she challenged it by way f filing a writ petition. The learned Single Judge dismissed the petition holding that since appellant herein was not the only legal heir upon whom the entire estate would devolve, she must obtain a succession certificate from a court of competent jurisdiction. Aggrieved thereby, the present appeal was filed.

The counsel for the appellant N.K.P. Sinha argued that the earlier writ petition was dismissed for want of impleading the other legal heirs whereas in the present case legal heirs have been brought on record but the court held that no such relief was ever sought in the writ petition filed by the writ petitioner previously. Also, the counsel contended that the daughter-in-law is entitled to receive the amount due to the absence of the original deceased employee.

The Court noted that Clause 64 of the Coal Mines Provident Fund Scheme states that the whole amount shall be payable to the person legally entitled to it and on the last proviso which further lays down that if the amount to be paid exceeds Rs 25,000 then no payment shall be made to a person unless he is in possession of succession certificate issued in his name by the competent court.

The counsel for the respondents further confirmed at the time of hearing that there is no other scheme available either today or at the time of the death of the member than the said scheme.

It was observed by the Court that there are other heirs of the deceased member upon whom the estate will devolve even as per the scheme as laid down under Clause 64 of the Coal Mines Provident Fund Scheme. Further, it was held that in such circumstances, this becomes a case of grant of succession certificate. Only upon the grant of succession certificate, one can come to the conclusion as to who would be entitled to receive the fund and in what share.

Thus, it was held by the Court that a succession certificate is important in this case. In view thereof, the appeal was dismissed for being bereft of merits. [Kamli Devi v. Central Coalfields Ltd., 2019 SCC OnLine Jhar 1945, decided on 03-12-2019]

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