Kerala HC upholds ordinance on employees’ salary cut

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In a huge relief to the Kerala government, the state high court on Tuesday upheld its ordinance allowing the government to defer the payment of salaries to government employees and public sector undertakings.

The opposition affiliated NGO Association and NGO Sangh had challenged the ordinance saying it was not legal. The ordinance was promulgated after the high court stayed the government’s executive order deferring the payment of six days salary of its employees and other government institutions every month from April to August.

Rejecting the argument of the petitioners, the court said that the ordinance was legal and added that the state was passing through an unprecedented crisis. The court noted that the salary was not being cut but deferred. The court observed that the deducted salary would be paid back to the employees.

State Advocate General Sudhakara Prasad, who represented the government, said that the deferment of salary was unavoidable for the government to tide over the crisis. He said that if the court pass an adverse order, it will affect the state’s fight against Covid-19 pandemic.

Last week, Justice Bechu Kurian Thomas, while issuing the stay order, observed that prima facie the law authorising the government to issue such an order was found wanting. Besides, he also noted that there was ambiguity in the order regarding the manner in which the amount was proposed to be set apart or was to be utilised.

 

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