Eight days after it restrained the state government from purchasing luxury items for failing to equip government-run schools with minimum facilities, the Uttarakhand High Court Friday “reminded” the government of Article 360 of the Constitution — pertaining to imposition of financial emergency — if it didn’t have adequate funds to improve the education system. “The dearth of funds cannot be permitted to come in way of implementation of [the] judgment [of November 19, last year]. We in a very subtle manner remind the state government of Article 360 of the Constitution of India,” the order of Division Bench of Justice Rajiv Sharma and Justice Alok Singh said. However, mentioning that the warning may have “serious political ramifications”, the court refused to elaborate on it.
Article 360 can be imposed when the President is satisfied that a situation of financial instability has arisen in a state or the country. According to a provision of the Article, salaries and allowances of a person serving the state can be reduced. Also, people serving the Centre, including judges of the High Court and the Supreme Court could face a salary cut if the President deems it necessary. The order also said that if the state government fails to provide basic amenities in the schools within six months, “all gazetted officers in the education department including principal secretary (education), secretary (education), deputy secretary (education), [and] all the directors in the education department shall not be paid their salaries for the month of January 2018.”
On November 19 last year, while hearing a PIL filed by one Deepak Rana, the high court had ordered the state government to provide basic amenities in all government-schools. State officials had informed it that severe dearth of funds was the reason behind the state’s failure to equip government schools with minimum facilities. “We are not oblivious to the financial health of the state. However, it is the constitutional duty of the state to garner funds at least to provide basic facilities to the children at grassroots level,” the order stated, adding that the state functionaries must “reduce their unproductive expenses on luxurious items” and divert the funds towards improving the state of education.
Considering the state government’s willingness to implement the November 19 judgment, the court Friday “vacated” the June 22 order restraining purchase of any luxury item by the state government.