In a significant move, the Centre decided to offer a one-time option for the ‘Old Pension Scheme’ to a select group of central government employees.
According to a notification issued by the Ministry of Personnel, the move was initiated in response to various representations, references, and court decisions, which included consultation with the Departments of Financial Services, Personnel & Training, Expenditure, and Legal Affairs.
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“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 NPS, referring to court judgments of various Hon’ble High Courts and Hon’ble Central Administrative Tribunals allowing such benefits to applicants,” the ministry’s order said.
The order also stated that government employees who are eligible to exercise the option “but do not exercise this option by the stipulated date” would continue to be covered by the National Pension System.
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Employees who joined the central government services before December 22, 2003, the day the National Pension System (NPS) was notified, are eligible to join the old pension scheme under the Central Civil Services (Pension) Rules, 1972, (now 2021).
“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.
The coverage under the CCS (Pension) Rules, 1972 (now 2021) will be decided on the basis of the option chosen by the government employee and will be placed before the appointing authority.
Last date to opt for Old Pension Scheme
The select group of government servants can opt for the Old Pension Scheme by August 31, 2023. The option once exercised shall be final.
How is it different from National Pension System
Employees receive a defined pension under the Old Pension Scheme (OPS). As a pension, an employee is entitled to 50% of his or her last drawn salary. The NDA government terminated OPS in 2003, with effect from April 1, 2004. Whereas under the National Pension System (NPS), employees contribute 10% of their basic salary and the government contributes 14%.