1. The appellant filed RTI application seeking to know name of the EPFO official dealing with his PF a/c, date of transfer of his money, name of person in whose account his money has been transferred, his address and account number, action taken or inquiry report, if any, as his saving account with CBI bearing a/c no. 3153418884 had been frozen without any notice to him. He was informed by the bank about some fraudulent preliminary enquiry being carried out by EPFO. He complained that EPFO Vigilance department without giving him any notice, his account was frozen. He also sought to know the time required to unfreeze his account due to financial difficulty. CPIO replied on 30.06.2016 and informed that the desired information/documents cannot be provided under section 8(1)(h) under RTI Act, 2005 as the matter is under investigation and the revelation of the information would impede the process of investigation. The Asst. PF Commissioner sent a letter dated 16.03.2016 requesting for bank statement and Account holder’s details for the purpose of preliminary inquiry. The appellant approached this Commission as no information was furnished to the appellant.
2. The PIO stated that a fraud of more than 3 crores of rupees have been come to light and presently the matter is entrusted to the SHO, Ashok Vihar, Police Station in which the investigation is in process. The PIO submitted that the information sought by the appellant could not be given because his PF account number was frozen along with 190 other accounts in pursuance of an investigation initiated suo-motu by EPFO.
3. The appellant submitted that due to financial constraints, he is seeking for de-freezing of his account but the PIO stated that sometime during the first half of 2016, the above numbered accounts were frozen and it cannot be undone at this stage since the handing over of all the documents to police have been commenced and have reached the fag-end situation.
5. The PIO stated that the PF contribution of employers are getting credited in someone else’s account instead of their respective PF account and consequently the appellant alleged that his PF money was sent to some other account and someone else’s PF money has been received in his account. This indicates a huge scam that needs to be probed and the money of workers should be protected in their PF account.
6. The PIO stated that they have suspicion on two establishments, which are into habit of receiving the cheque of the member but the signature and amount on it will be of someone else. The PIO expressed shock that such a fabrication of the establishments giving different account numbers and other relevant details. The appellant was an employee of one of two establishments.
7. The appellant claimed that he has two PF accounts as he worked in two establishments in succession. The PIO stated that the fact of appellant having two different PF accounts needs to be investigated as she even stated that there is no database for checking the signature of the member. The PIO further added that such a facility is available only with the concerned establishments but not with the EPFO. In addition, the respondent authority said that it is releasing the PF funds after checking the history and other relevant details of the member.
8. The officer claimed that the respondent authority is releasing the PF funds to the concerned employers only in two situations i.e., (1) when the amount has been withdrawn in an employer’s name himself, and (2) when there is no withdrawal is recorded, but if the amount is received in an employer’s account through a different name then the respondent authority is withholding the release of PF fund and tag it as suspicious account.
9. The Commission directs the respondent authority to give a report to the appellant about the status of his claim and explanation to his complaint for de-freezing of account within 21 days from the date of receipt of this Order. The Commission takes a serious note of the scandal, the quantum, width and depth of which is yet to be understood and feels that the respondent authority has a duty to secure the hard-earned money of the workers in the PF accounts and inform them about their response to this PF misappropriation scandal by probing it and giving a report of action taken within two months.