- Apprentice Lawyer
- Legal Jobs
The Court made the observation while staying the Kerala Government's recent decision to defer paying 6 days' worth salaries to government employees for 5 months in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.
The Kerala High Court today stayed the state government's recent decision to defer paying six days' worth salaries to government employees for the next five months in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.
While doing so, the Court opined that the same would, prima facie, amount to a denial of the right to property.
To meet financial difficulties arising out of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Kerala government had issued an order (GO) stating that the salaries of all government employees who are in receipt of a gross salary of above Rs 20,000 would be deferred to the extent of six days every month from April till August.
The government's decision in this regard had been challenged by various government employee associations, whose petitions were taken up this afternoon by Justice Bechu Kurian.
After hearing detailed submissions by various counsel for the petitioners, including Senior Advocate KP Satheeshan, Advocates Kiranlal and Rekhesh Sharma, as well as the arguments by Advocate General CP Sudhakara Prasad, assisted by Advocate Manoj for the State, the High Court concluded,
Justice Kurian went on to hold that the Advocate General’s submission that the government has the power to delay the disbursement of salary by a few months through an executive order "cannot, in the face of law, be countenanced."
The judge further observed that he could not find any statutory basis for the deferment of salaries, neither in the Epidemic Diseases Act, nor in the Disaster Management Act.
The Court also added that there seems to be some ambuguity in the challenged GO on how the amounts proposed to be set apart would be utilised by the government.
"It only refers to the financial difficulties that are faced. The said financial difficulty is not a ground for the State Government to defer the payment of salary", the Court observed.
In view of these observations, the Kerala High Court proceeded to stay the operation of the challenged Government Order for a period of two months. The judge held,
Read the order: