Moved by the plight by over 6,000 serving and retired employees of the Bihar State Road Transport Corporation (BSRTC) who have not been paid their salaries/pensions/dues since 1994, the Supreme Court on Thursday blamed itself for the situation.
“I think we have committed a mistake. We should have held the officials guilty of contempt,” said the bench headed by Justice B. Sudershan Reddy.
The court was shocked that despite directions on four occasions the corporation had not disbursed 90 per cent of Rs 312 crore that had to be released to these employees.
The court directed BSRTC to file a detailed affidavit on the steps it would take to expedite the process to release the dues. It will hear the case on Friday after the affidavit is filed.
Of the 6,000 employees, more than 4,000 have retired and some of them are dead.
Serving and retired BSRTC employees were deprived of their salaries since 1994 owning to heavy losses the corporation had incurred in operating transport service across the undivided state. After facing penury for over six years, the employees began getting half their salary from 2000 after the apex court’s intervention.
As the problem pertained to undivided Bihar, an SC-appointed committee constituted in 2004 recommended that Jharkhand, too, should share part of the burden. As the two state governments released Rs 312 crore in February this year, BSRTC refused to disburse it as the state government asked them to carry out a pre-audit.
However, the court on April 13 asked the corporation to release 90 per cent of the amount without the pre-audit. During a hearing on May 7, BSRTC claimed it had released the cheques.
According to the employees, however, none has received the payment so far.