After HC stay order, Kerala govt brings out ordinance to enforce salary cut

South India

The high court had stayed the order citing lack of provisions in existing laws to defer the payment of salaries to the government employees 

The Kerala government has sought to override the high court judgement staying the forced pay cut of employees in view of the financial crisis caused by Covid-19 by bringing out an ordinance.

The state cabinet that met on Wednesday (April 29) has approved the ordinance Disaster and Public Emergency Special Provisions Act with a provision to defer up to 25 per cent salaries of the employees.

Finance Minister Thomas Isaac said that the salary for the month of April will be delayed till Governor signs the order. He said that the ordinance was not against the high court’s April 29 order but to abide by it.

The high court had stayed the executive order of the government saying that it was not supported by any provisions in the law. Thomas Isaac said that the state government is using the provisions of the Act to defer the payment of the salary.

“We are not going to go in appeal against stay order. The State government is using the provisions in the Act. The provision in the Act is clear as it says this can be done when a health emergency or a disaster strikes. The Centre has declared the pandemic as a health emergency," said Isaac.

The finance minister said that government had no other way as the state was short of funds.

"Some people like leader of opposition Ramesh Chennithala is yet to gauge the situation what the state is presently undergoing. Anyone is free to go in appeal against the new Ordinance. The salary of April month will be paid in May after completing the procedures," added Issac and said they will stick to defer six days salary that they originally proposed.

Initial estimates from experts on the notional economic loss due to Covid-19 for Kerala is around Rs 80,000 crore for the current financial year and if the situation doesn't improve the loss is expected to increase, said Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan on Monday.

Meanwhile, all eyes are on the Governor Arif Mohammed Khan on what position he will be taking with regard to the new Ordinance. If he decides to seek additional information or goes in for legal advice, there is likelihood that the payment of salaries for April, might get delayed fuelling protests from the employees.

Image Credit: Asianet News

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