January 22, 2021 1:27:04 am
Pulling up the Delhi government and MCDs for non-payment of salaries to civic staff, the Delhi High Court Thursday said grievances of employees have been reduced to a “political slugfest”. It said there was no real sense of concern or sympathy for the employees in the political establishment of Delhi government or corporations.
“We can’t tell you how disgusted we are with all of you. You have absolutely no concern for employees… (As) far as Delhi government is concerned… this problem has arisen because Delhi government is sandwiched between central government and MCD, which belong to the opposite political party. This problem would not have arisen otherwise, pandemic or no pandemic,” observed the division bench of Justice Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli.
It added that the court does not want to point fingers but, “all of you are behaving completely irresponsibly, with no sense of responsibility towards these employees and pensioners”.
The bench ordered the Delhi government to pay back the amount deducted or adjusted by it during the pandemic from the funds to be released to the corporations in two weeks.
It also ordered MCDs that funds it receives will be utilised only for disbursal of outstanding salaries and pensions till October 2020 on a fair and equitable basis. The remaining corpus will also be used for release of salaries and pensions in a manner to be worked out by heads of corporations, said the court.
The bench was hearing a bunch of petitions filed by MCD employees, both current and retired, for release of their salaries.
EDMC Thursday told the court that Rs 320 crore was required for release of November and December, 2020, salaries and Rs 87 crore for release of pension of three months. The North MCD has a much higher amount of unpaid salaries and pensions.
The Delhi government said a sanction order was passed on Wednesday for release of Rs 337 crore to MCDs and other local bodies for the period of January-March 2021 without making any deductions towards the outstanding loan.
During the hearing, the court said it has no doubt the Delhi government was facing a revenue shortfall but questioned the number of advertisements it issued during the pandemic. “Please take out the publications of advertisements by the Delhi government in newspapers. How much money you have spent on advertisements, we want to know that. Half-page, full-page advertisements, newspaper after newspaper. You have money for all that. We will order an inquiry and ask the CAG to look into this,” it observed.
It further said all this was happening because of politics: “When is the election due for the municipality? We can see that it must be round the corner… why all this is happening.”
The government counsel submitted that it would have to revisit the initial budget estimates and funds to be released to the corporations, in case it is asked to return the loan amount. To which the court said: “You are not doing any charity. You think you can behave so irresponsibly. We are there to check that.”
Observing that it will tell MCD employees to not come for work if they are not paid, the court said: “Let us see how your streets are cleaned and how your hospitals are run. We will put a lock on municipal offices also… We are ashamed of you and your leaders if this is the way you have to behave.”
Meanwhile, when the government counsel requested the court to “tone down” an order — in which it said there was a political slugfest between Delhi government and MCDs — Justice Vipin Sanghi observed: “… People are making all kinds of irresponsible statements… all kinds of actions are being taken just for their personal interests and (to) further their political agenda, unmindful of what harm they are causing to society and the people of this country. We have to mature.”
He added, “… We have to rise above all this. If this is the way things go, I won’t be surprised if politicians and people who indulge in this are lynched by the public at large.”
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