Observing that “consultant” employees of the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) had been “engaged in programmes set up by court orders,” the Delhi High Court Thursday directed the Centre to release two months’ salary to the 62 DCW employees, who have not been paid since September.
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“Fifty per cent of arrears be released to the petitioners,” directed a bench of Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva. The Delhi L-G had stopped payment of salaries to the DCW employees after allegations were raised over “irregular appointments.”
“Should I record that the Union Government of India is saying that the crisis cells and helplines be shut down because employees are to be dismissed?” asked the irked bench after the Additional Solicitor General (ASG), Sanjay Jain, said investigation into the alleged “illegal appointments” were still going on.
“You continue the investigation. If they are found to be involved in irregular appointments, they will be terminated. As long as the cells are functioning, how can you withhold salaries?” asked the bench.
The directions were issued after the court noted that investigations were “underway”. The court has, however, cautioned that while the arrears are to be paid within four working days, the salaries and position of the “employees” was “subject to court orders”.
Advocate Rajshekhar Rao, appearing for the DCW, informed the bench that the employees, including acid attack survivors and orphans, were engaged by the DCW due to the “serious staff shortage” in the commission.
The cells in which the affected employees were working include the Rape Crisis Cell, Crisis Intervention Centre, Acid Watch and Rehabilitation Cell, Anti-trafficking and Rehabilitation Cell, Mahila Panchayats and Sahayogini programme. “The DCW has handled four times the average burden of work since last year. We need staff to get work done,” said Rao. The government had stopped releasing salaries to the 62 employees after a CAG report had pointed out that they were “irregular appointments” done without “due process” being followed.
During the hearing, the ASG told the court that the L-G had agreed to release ex-gratia of Rs 20,000 each to five DCW employees — three acid attack victims and two orphans. He also alleged that there was mismanagement within the DCW and a “racket was being run” through unlawful appointments.
“If the government does not sanction posts, can a government-run office hire them on their own?” argued the ASG. Rao however argued that the L-G was “not disputing the work being done.”
DCW chief Swati Maliwal told the court that the L-G was “creating objections” because the DCW was “finally working”.