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"Spending On Propaganda Through Ad Expenses, Not Paying MCD Salaries - Is This Not Criminal?" Delhi High Court To Delhi Govt

Shreya Agarwal
5 April 2021 2:22 PM GMT
Spending On Propaganda Through Ad Expenses, Not Paying MCD Salaries - Is This Not Criminal? Delhi High Court To Delhi Govt
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A bench of Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Rekha Palli of the Delhi High Court lashed out at the Delhi government today while hearing a case against non-payment of salaries and pensions to employees and pensioners of the Municipal Corporations of Delhi. The bench said to the counsel for the Delhi Government, "We don't live in ivory towers. There are full page ads everyday in newspapers...

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A bench of Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Rekha Palli of the Delhi High Court lashed out at the Delhi government today while hearing a case against non-payment of salaries and pensions to employees and pensioners of the Municipal Corporations of Delhi. The bench said to the counsel for the Delhi Government, "We don't live in ivory towers. There are full page ads everyday in newspapers with pictures of politicians. We have seen those and you would've as well - spending money in these times on propaganda (while salaries are pending) is this not criminal?"

Observing this, the Court dismissed an application by the North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) asking for time until Apr 30 to clear the dues in question. The counsel for NDMC informed the Court that despite the court's earlier order of Mar 24 wherein the Delhi government was directed to make remaining payments of all the Municipal Corporations on the revised estimates of the Basic Tax Assignment (BTA) by Apr 5, these payments had not been made to them.

As such, while pensions and salaries had been paid by them till Jan 2021 for all employees and till Feb 2021 for Sarai Karamcharis, the corporation still needed time to clear of all dues.

Responding to the prayer, the court said, "The right of employees to receive salaries and pensions is a fundamental right. We are not inclined to pass any order which would continue to infringe this right."

It also told the MCDs that if they had employed people, they must find means to pay and that non availability of funds was no excuse to not pay on time. The East Delhi Municipal Corporation informed the Court that it had cleared all dues till March.

Responding to the MCDs' prayer for release of the revised estimates of BTA, on which the South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC) submitted that out of the revised estimate of Rs. 405.27 cr for the financial year only Rs. 119.88 cr had been released till now, Sr. Adv. Sandeep Sethi appearing for the Delhi Government submitted that the SDMC is the most profitable corporation and gets the largest chunk of revenues and that the Delhi Government "is under severe pressure" financially.

He further argued that while many other states get grants from the Central Government, Delhi was not receiving any such grant.

Refusing to accept this stance, Justice Sanghi said, "If you have a grievance about not receiving grants from Centre raise it (in a petition) and we will deal with it, but this is not the time to raise these adjustments. You can't shrug off your liabilities."

The Court went a step further and observed that the political parties would gain more goodwill by ensuring payments to these employees, rather than through the advertisements in the newspapers.

Upon the court's Mar 24 order, the Delhi government, represented by Additional Standing Counsel Satyakam had earlier told the court that they had incurred a huge deficit in revenue generation due to the pandemic and would release the amount in April.

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