While hearing a batch of petitions in connection to the non-payment of salaries and pensions to the employees of Municipal Corporations, Delhi High Court has stated that paucity of funds cannot be or shall not be accepted as an excuse for the non-payment of salaries/ pensions to the employees.
Earlier on January 15, the bench of Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Rekha Palli had directed the Municipal Corporations to place the different heads for the expenditure in respect to the Municipal Councillors, Class-I officers, and Class-II officers. It was also ordered that under each specific head, the expenditure incurred in providing perks to all these officials should be clearly disclosed.
The petitions were filed in connection to the non-payment of salaries and pensions to the employees of Delhi Municipal Corporations, particularly, North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NDMC) and East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC).
“The reason assigned for non-payment of timely salaries is stated to be the paucity of funds which, as is well settled, cannot be an excuse for non-payment, keeping in view the fact that the right to receive salary and pension is a fundamental right enshrined under Article 21 of the Constitution of India and non-payment thereof would have a direct bearing on the quality of life of the person entitled thereto and their dependants,” the court said.
Advocate Satyakam, additional standing counsel for Government of NCT Delhi told that there are two heads under which the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD) transfers funds to the Municipal Corporations.
The first one is Basic Tax Assignment (BTA) wherein 6% of the GNCTD revenue collections are transferred and the second one is Grant-in-Aid (GIA) for the purpose of Education, Health, and Urban Development wherein 6.5% of the GNCTD revenue collections are transferred to the Corporations.
He further submitted, “On account of and during the pandemic, even though the revenue generation of the GNCTD has taken a serious hit, the GNCTD has decided not to cut either the BTA or the GIA. However, the amount of BTA stands reduced in proportion to the decrease in the revenue generation with the GNCTD.”
“It is absolutely necessary that payment of salaries/ pensions is made to the employees/ retired employees of the Corporations, which also includes Doctors, Para Medical Staff and Health Workers – who are rendering their services in the time of pandemic and serving the citizens of Delhi. In fact, the payment of salaries and pensions has to be prioritised over other discretionary expenses that the Corporations are incurring,” the court stated.