Delhi HC broadside on politics in hearing on civic body funds
NeIt was supposed to be a hearing on non-payment of salaries of workers of Delhi’s municipal corporations. Instead, the interplay between the Centre (the BJP-led NDA government), the state ( the Aam Aadmi Party government), and the MCDs (controlled by the BJP), that is at the root of the crisis, provoked the court to launch a broadside against politicians in general, and warning the latter that they could be “lynched by the public” if they do not rise above politics.
A bench of justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli lamented the spate of “irresponsible statements” made by politicians.
“People are making all kinds of irresponsible statements just to further their political agenda, unmindful of what harm they are causing to the society and people,” justice Sanghi remarked.
Making generic comments about the state of polity in the country, the bench warned that something really bad could be in store for the politicians.
“You have to mature and rise above all this. If this is the way things go on, I won’t be surprised if the politicians and people who indulge in this are lynched by public,” said justice Sanghi.
The Delhi government did not comment on the court’s outburst, which came through during a hearing on non-payment of salaries and pensions of serving and retired employees, including teachers, doctors and sanitation workers, of the three MCDs.
While directing the Delhi government to disburse to MCDs the money which was deducted against recovery of previous loans by the government to the civic bodies, the court said that the non-payment of salaries is a result of a “political slugfest.”
The bench said it is “disgusted” that nobody seems to be bothered about the people who are cleaning their houses, as it shot down the Delhi government’s submissions on paucity of funds to pay for the salaries of the civic body’s employees.
“You (Delhi government) are not doing any charity. It is more to do with politics rather than something else,” the bench told city government’s additional standing counsel Satyakam.
But the Centre, too, came in for criticism.
“The problem has also arisen because the Delhi government is sandwiched between the Centre and the MCD. All of you are behaving irresponsibly towards the employees and pensioners of the civic bodies. They have been completely ignored,” observed the court.
It said that the deduction of loan payments should not have been done during the pandemic.
When Satyakam told the court that the state’s revenue had fallen during the pandemic, the bench questioned the expenditure on advertisements and asked if an inquiry by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) should be ordered into the government’s expenses.
“How much money you have spent on advertisements? We will order a CAG enquiry. Where did you get money from? Should we do that?”
At this, Satyakam submitted that a sanction order was passed to release ₹337 crore to five local bodies including three MCDs for January to March , without making any deduction towards loan.
The court, while rejecting the plea of the counsel , asked the Delhi government to file an affidavit on the amount, which according to it is liable to be paid to the MCDs as far as budget and revised estimate is concerned.
It also directed the corporations to file respective affidavits disclosing their expenditures since April 2020 and made it clear that if they fail to do so, their chairpersons will have to be present in the court on February 22, the next date of hearing.
“We further direct that the amounts which the MCDs and local bodies have received or will receive shall not be disbursed for any other purpose except releasing salaries and pensions and they have to first clear the arrears,” the bench said.