HC stays PU order on withdrawal of secretariat pay
The Punjab and Haryana high court on Friday stayed a Panjab University order to withdraw secretariat pay given to around 3,000 employees.
The high court bench of justice Sanjay Kumar acted on the plea of Panjab University Staff Non-Teaching Association and 50 odd employees, who had challenged the PU decision.
Secretariat pay is a special allowance given to the clerical staff of the civil secretariat of the Punjab government, which was being paid to non-teaching employees of the university since 1970s.
On January 7, PU had withdrawn the secretariat pay given to more than 3,000 employees after the Punjab government in a communication sent to the varsity on December 27, 2019, warned them of grant cuts .
Subsequently, PU syndicate in its meeting on January 18, approved the decision to withdraw the secretariat pay. However, they had decided to appeal the Punjab government to reconsider the move.
Besides PU, the letter was written to Punjabi University, Patiala, and Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar. The Punjab government had warned them of withholding grant- in-aid if secretariat pay to employees is not withdrawn.
On Thursday, the high court had passed a similar order in the case of an employee of GNDU, Amritsar.
The high court has sought response from Punjab government and the varsity by May 5 and clubbed both the petitions.
Association counsel Dinesh Kumar said the order of withdrawal in the first instance and reconsideration at a later stage as done by PU was unheard of.
The court was told the decision was taken unilaterally by the varsity without hearing the employees.
It was also argued that BoF’s decision to withdraw the pay
and syndicate’s decision to approach the state government for reconsideration was self contradictory.
The court was also told that Punjab government could not have issued a direction to PU on withdrawal of the special allowance.
It has been argued that non-teaching employees were in receipt of better pay scales but in the year 1969 the pay scales were equated with the Punjab government.
Thereafter in the year 1980, the pay scales of the non-teaching employees were equated at par with the Punjab government’s civil secretariat employees.
Since then, the pay scale and allowances granted had been revised from time to time with the approval of all governing bodies of the university.
It was also told that non-teaching employees could face a salary cut of up to ₹ 7,000.
The decision has affected over 3,000 employees from 50 categories, including superintendents, deputy registrars, assistant registrars, senior assistants, stenographers, clerks and drivers.
They were receiving a monthly secretariat pay ranging between ₹600 and ₹7,000.
“University authorities have not acted independently but rather acted under the threat of the Punjab Government of cut in grant in aid. Authorities are clear there is a scope of reconsideration on the basis of documentary evidence which can falsify the very basis of issuance of order in question,” the court was told.