April 5, 2021 6:20:44 pm
THE DELHI High Court Monday pulled up the Delhi government for recovering outstanding funds from the municipal corporations out of their Basic Tax Assignment (BTA) during the time of the pandemic, while also dismissing a prayer by the North Delhi Municipal Corporation seeking two more weeks to clear arrears of serving and retired employees.
“We are not living in ivory towers,” the division bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli told the government. “You are spending money on propaganda. You will gain more goodwill by ensuring payment of salaries to these employees,” the court said, asking the government to make adjustments and noting that Covid-19 cases were again on the rise.
It had criticised the Delhi government in January as well for adjusting the outstanding loans of the corporations from their BTA — the grant paid to them by the government — during the pandemic.
The court Monday made the observations after senior advocate Sandeep Sethi representing the Delhi government submitted that the state was also facing constraints of revenue. Sethi also submitted that Delhi was possibly the only government which was not getting grants from the Centre for municipal corporations. He also argued that the state was entitled to recover the funds if it has paid excess in the past.
Darlier during the hearing, the division bench dismissed an application moved by the NDMC for more time to clear salaries and pensions of employees on the ground that Delhi government had released funds to it but with certain deductions.
The court had last month directed the municipal corporations to release salaries of employees and pensions of former employees on or before April 5. The NDMC told the court on Monday that salaries of all employees have been paid till January 2021 and of sanitation workers till February 2021.
However, the court said it was not inclined to pass any such order and told the NDMC that it has money for everything else. It said the right of employees to get salaries and pension is a fundamental right and that it was for the corporation to manage the funds for paying them.
“There are loopholes in (your) system… corruption… should we pass an order contrary to fundamental rights? You had sufficient time. If you cannot meet the expenses, then you should take the haircut. Non-availability of finance cannot be an excuse,” added the court.
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