A PIL has been filed in the Delhi High Court, challenging the decision of the Government to freeze the Dearness Allowance, payable to its employees.
In view of the COVID-19 crisis, the Central Government had put a hold on the increment in DA till July 2021, vide an Office Memorandum dated April 23, 2020. Following the footsteps, the Govt of Delhi also issued an OM, to the similar effect.
This as per the Petitioner has affected about 50 lakh Central Government employees, 61 lakh pensioners and the employees of the Delhi Govt., as the prices of petrol, diesel and other essential commodities are at a peak.
The Petitioner has argued that in the absence of any financial emergency, the decision to deprive the employees to be compensated for the rising inflation is a violation of Article 360 of Constitution.
It is submitted that payment of salary is certainly not a matter of 'bounty' but rather a statutory right, as it flows from the Service Rules. "Right to receive salary with perks, every month, is part of the service conditions emanating from Article 309 of Constitution of India," the plea states.
Even otherwise, the Petitioner has argued, freezing of DA of all or any class of persons serving in connection with the affairs of a State, is in violation of Article 21 of Constitution of India.
"The Article 21 of the Constitution has a much wider meaning which includes the right to live with human dignity, right to livelihood, right to health, right to pollution free air, etc. Right to life is fundamental to our very existence and includes all those aspects of life which go on to make a man's life meaningful, complete and worth living," he has submitted.
Furthermore, it has been contended that the right to receive salary is a property coming within the purview of Article 300A of the Constitution of India.
"It is a settled preposition that deferment of salary even for a day, amounts to denial and that the right to receive salary cannot be left to an uncertain date or an uncertain event at the whims and fancies of the Government," the plea states.
It is submitted that the right to receive salary can be deprived only by authority of law. However, executive orders passed under the Disaster Management Act 2005 do not have statutory character.
"The law means an Act of Parliament or an Act of Legislature. or at least a Rule having a statutory character. That even otherwise, the Disaster Management Act 2005 does not confer any power upon the Government to defer or deny salary at any time during a disaster," the Petitioner has argued while alleging that the Central Government has "abused" its powers under Section 62 of Disaster Management Act.
In view thereof, a direction has been sought to the Government that the DA be released forthwith. "The released Dearness Allowance would even give morale boost to even the Health Warriors who are protecting us from deadly disease," the Petitioner has submitted.
The petition has been filed at the instance of one N. Pradeep Sharma, through Advocate Harsh K Sharma.
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