The Punjab and Haryana high court has directed the Punjab government to give complete details of salaries or any other amount payable to serving or retired employees or others engaged under various schemes.
The direction was issued by the bench of justice Rajesh Bindal taking note of newspaper reports that suggested that teachers working under the Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA) have not been paid their salaries for the last more than six months.
The bench passed the order after it was told by Krishan Kumar, secretary (expenditure) in the state department of finance, that as many as Rs 141.24 crore are yet to paid as dues to staff who retired from local bodies between 2002 and 2016. “Whatever information has been furnished in the affidavit is astonishing,” the court observed. It was hearing contempt petitions filed by retired employees of the urban local bodies department who have alleged non-compliance of court orders in clearing their dues by the state.
PAYMENTS FIRST, LOAN RECOVERY LATER
Commenting on submissions by the government, the bench further observed that details have been given about release of funds to the local bodies about their share in VAT (value-added tax); however, specific data about the amount due to be paid and actual payment has not been given. The government had told the court that, for the current year, share out of the licence fee on liquor to the tune of Rs 295.99 crore has already been disbursed, and a balance of Rs 422.84 crore is being disbursed after adjusting Rs 83.89 crores on account of loan payable by urban local bodies.
“The loan must have been advanced to the local bodies to take care of their poor financial condition. Affidavit suggests that their financial condition has not improved. As urban local bodies have not been able to pay retiral dues of their employees in last more than one decade, hence the question of recovery of loan needs to be re-examined,” the HC observed, further asking the state to give complete details about the money required to be transferred to the urban local bodies from different heads, their share from the year 2006 onwards, and the amount actually paid to them.