New Delhi: Union Minister Jitendra Singh on Monday said family pension rules for missing central government employees have been relaxed, in a major relief for kin of those serving in militancy-affected areas such as Jammu and Kashmir and the Northeast as well as Naxalism-hit regions.
According to an order, in all cases where a government servant covered by the National Pension System (NPS) goes missing during service, the benefits of family pension will be immediately paid to the family and in case he reappears and resumes service, the amount paid as family pension during the intervening time of his missing period can be accordingly deducted from his salary.
Earlier, the family pension would not be paid till the missing government employee was declared dead in accordance with the law or till seven years had passed since he went missing, a statement issued by the Personnel Ministry said.
Referring to the order of the Department of Pension and Pensioners’ Welfare, the minister said this is going to provide a huge relief, particularly in those regions where instances of government employees going missing are reported more frequently.
Singh, the Minister of State for Personnel, said cases of abduction of central government employees working in violence-prone areas have come to the fore and therefore to instill confidence and to protect them and their family interests, the changes in the pension rules were brought about.
The minister informed that if a government servant covered by the CCS (Pension) Rules, 1972 goes missing, the benefits of arrears of salary, family pension, retirement gratuity, leave encashment, etc. are paid to the families of the missing employees in accordance with the instructions issued dated 25.06.2013.
He said the matter has been examined in consultation with Department of Personnel and Training, Department of Financial Services and Department of Expenditure and considering the hardship faced by the family of such government servants, it has been decided to extend the same benefits (as applicable to those under the CCS (Pension) rules) to the families of government servants covered by NPS.
The other provisions of the order states that in all cases where a government servant covered by NPS goes missing during service, the benefits of family pension may be paid to the family if the missing government servant had exercised option for benefits under CCS (Pension) Rules on death or discharge from service on disability/invalidation or the benefits under CCS (Pension) Rules is the default option under the Central Civil Services (Implementation of National Pension System) Rules, 2021.
The benefit of arrears of salary, retirement gratuity and leave encashment shall be paid to the family in all cases where a government employee covered under NPS goes missing during service, irrespective whether the employee had exercised option for benefits under CCS (Pension) Rules or under the Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority (Exits and Withdrawals under National Pension System) Regulations, 2015, the statement said.
In the case of a government servant covered under NPS goes missing during service and his family is given family pension under CCS (Pension) Rules or CCS (EOP) Rules, the Permanent Retirement Account under National Pension System would remain suspended till the government servant reappears or till he is declared dead in accordance with the rules, it said.
In the event of re-appearance of government servant, the NPS account would be re-activated and the same account under NPS will become operative, the statement said.
In case of government servant being declared dead at any time or after seven years, government contribution and returns thereon from the accumulated pension corpus under NPS would be transferred to the government account and remaining corpus comprising of employees’ contribution and returns thereon would be paid to the nominee or legal heir, it said.
Singh said that ever since Prime Minister Narendra Modi-led government assumed office in 2014, the Department of Pension & Pensioners’ Welfare had introduced a number of revolutionary reforms, including relaxation in the provision of family pension for divorced daughters and Divyangs, introduction of face recognition technology through mobile app for ease in submitting life certificate by elderly pensioners and Electronic Pension Pay Order, among others to facilitate pension process, etc.
He said that moreover steps like extension of family pension to differently abled child of a deceased government employee/pensioner or giving a major hike in the family pension emoluments for Divyang children are not only pension reforms but these are social reforms having wide implications.