Telangana brings ordinance on deferment of salaries and pensions


HC hauls up T govt for cutting pensions, says no law allows it

SagarKumar.Mutha@timesgroup.com

Hyderabad:

Making it clear that law does not permit it to tinker with pensions of retired employees, the Telangana high court on Monday the 15 th june 2020 wondered as to which provision of the law has enabled the state government to cut it from April this year. A bench of Chief Justice Raghavendra Singh Chauhan and Justice B Vijaysen Reddy gave two days’ time to the government to explain its stand while hearing a batch of petitions filed by senior counsel S Satyam Reddy and others.

The CJ said: “Unless the state declares a financial emergency, it has no powers whatsoever to touch pensions. Even the Disaster Management Act does not contain any such  provision. That is the legal status.”

Making no bones about his unhappiness at the government’s move, he further said:

“Pension is not a charity. Law does not accord you (government) any permission even to defer its payment.”

“The GO issued by you in respect of pensions has no legal basis. It needs to be set aside, he said while rejecting the government’s counter which, he said, has many “misplaced notions” in it.Advocate general BS Prasad, while conceding that the government did not have a case legally, however, tried to drive home the impossibilities the Covid-19 pandemic had thrown in the way of the government. He tried to remind the court that the government had modified the cut after its intervention. At this, the bench said the ‘impossibility theory’ is applicable to a contract and not to a service.

‘Committing another wrong not the answer’ After the lockdown was imposed, the government first resorted to a 50% pay deferment to its employees and pensioners. Following the intervention of the high court, the government enhanced the pension payment to 75% and confined the cut to 25%. When

hearing the case, the bench did not approve even the 25% deferment and insisted on repaying the deferred portion too.

“The pensioners are at the fag end of their lives. Their children may not look after them.Some of them are staying in old-age hostels as paying guests. If they are deprived of even this facility where will they go, ” the bench sought to know. The AG explained that the government was rendered helpless even by the central government which deferred the payment in respect of GST share that ought to have come to the state. Prasad said he


THE HINDU

Telangana brings ordinance on deferment of salaries and pensions
The Telangana government promulgated an ordinance in the name of the Governor to make special provision for deferment of any payment in part to any person, institution, employee or pensioner in the event of disaster and public health management in the State.
The gazette notification of the ordinance, issued on Tuesday night and to be in force for six months, said that “Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law, rule or order or code or judgment or order of any court or tribunal, the government is competent to defer any payment due and payable to any person or institution in part, to the extent not exceeding half of the amount due or payable for such period for the management of the situation arising out of such disaster or public health emergency or otherwise”.
It further said that the government under the ordinance could lawfully defer the pay, pension or remuneration in part, not exceeding half of total monthly pay, pension due to an employee or pensioner in any institution owned or controlled or aided by the government. 
This would include aided schools and college teachers, local self-government institutions, statutory bodies, universities, corporations, aided educational institutions and such other institutions. The deferment of payments will be in force for such period for the management of the situation arising out of such disaster or public health emergency. 
The State has been paying 50% of salaries to the government employees and 75% of pension after the COVID-19 lockdown came into force in March last week.
Some employees and pensioners associations filed a petition in the High Court against the deferment of salaries and pensions and the hearings are in progress. The HC also directed the government to file an affidavit.

‘Deplorable act’

Telangana State United Teachers Federation condemned the government’s decision in a statement and said that unable to give a reply sought by the court in the next hearing on cuts imposed in salaries and pensions, the government suddenly brought the ordinance on Tuesday night. “We condemn the deplorable act by the government,” it said.
The employees associations said that employees and pensioners were facing hardships for the last three months and had been demanding restoration of full payment of salaries and pensions. The ordinance was issued to enable the government continue payment of salaries and pensions in part for several months, they alleged.
The TSUTF demanded immediate withdrawal of the ordinance and payment of full salaries from June.

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