The Delhi High Court Tuesday pulled up the Delhi government for not releasing funds to two of three civic bodies, and hampering salaries and pensions of all employees.
A bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V K Rao said sanitation workers are poor and cannot be deprived of their basic rights like “bread and butter”. The bench observed that authorities “want workers’ flesh, but do not want to pay”, pushing them and their family members to death. “It’s strange that poor employees are not being paid and politicians fight among themselves,” the bench remarked, asking the counsel representing the authorities: “Why doesn’t anybody come and say that we (either Centre government or Delhi government) will pay?”
“We passed interim orders and directed the Delhi government to release funds to the North and East Corporations immediately, with effect from November 1, 2017,” the bench said, adding that this order should have been complied with. The bench, which was adamant that the authorities will have to pay in compliance with its April and May order, however, refrained from passing further directions after it was told that its order has been challenged before the Supreme Court.
“We are concerned about the employees, but we are helpless. The propriety demands that since the Supreme Court is seized of the issue, we should not pass any mandamus (order). We will be hauled up for this,” the bench said, and listed the matter for further hearing on October 25.
The HC had directed the Delhi government to pay employees as per recommendations of the fourth Delhi Finance Commission (DFC). The Delhi government maintains it has already released more funds to the civic bodies, and accused the Centre of sitting on files and not releasing its part of the funds.
It sought a review of the order on the ground that recommendations of the DFC are mainly advisory and not binding on it.
On the contention that the Centre is sitting on files, the bench remarked “Why should the poor worker and their family suffer between your (Centre and Delhi government’s) fights?”
The court’s observations came during a hearing of ten petitions by various individuals and NGOs seeking adequate funds for the three municipal corporations to enable their proper functioning.
The East MCD sanitation workers are on strike since September 12, demanding regular payment of salaries, clearance of dues and regularisation of sanitation workers who have been inducted on a temporary basis.