Salary Challenge: There Cannot Be Compulsion To Contribute To CM's Flood Relief Fund, SC Dismisses Kerala Govt.'s Petition
The Supreme Court today dismissed the special leave petition filed by Kerala Government against the order of Kerala High Court which stayed the condition in a Government Order (GO) that mandated that government employees unwilling to contribute their one month’s salary to the Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund (CMDRF) should give a written declaration to that effect.
While repelling Kerala Government's challenge, the SC bench of Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Vineet Saran observed that the High Court's order was just and proper. In the impugned order, the HC Bench comprising Justice CT Ravikumar and Justice AM Babu had opined that the impugned Clause 10 of the GO amounted to compulsion on the employees to join the government’s salary challenge initiative.
During the admission hearing, Justice Arun Mishra remarked, "As SC judges, we (referring to Justice Vineeth Saran also) have contributed Rs.25,000 each to the Kerala Flood Releif Fund. Now imagine that we were not willing to make the contribution. Why should we be forced to bring humiliation upon ourselves by declaring our unwillingness to contribute? You say that if "no consent" declaration is not given before October 22, salary will be recovered. How can that be permissible?"
"What is the guarantee that the recovered amount will be used for relief operations? Similar situation has occurred in Madhya Pradesh. If you want to know the details, come to chamber. It is important that Government should create trust amongst people that contributions will be utilized for intended purposes", Justice Mishra added.
"There should not be any compulsion to give "no consent" letter. People should be encouraged to voluntarily contribute as per their capacity. The High Court's decision is proper", stated Justice Saran.
At this juncture, Senior Advocate Jaideep Gupta appearing for the Government pointed out that similar conditions are there in orders issued by various authorities, including the Supreme Court. To this Justice Mishra replied that the legality of such conditions will be considered as and when challenged by concerned parties.
Senior Counsel Gupta further submitted that Government should be permitted to amend the circular to state that recovery will be made only from those interested. On this, the Court observed that Government was at liberty to make appropriate amendments.Read Petition