‘‘People at the top are living like lords’: HC asks Delhi MCDs to list non-essential expenses
The Delhi high court on Friday asked the city’s three civic bodies to disclose their non-essential expenses, including the perks availed by councillors and senior officers, while stating that it intends to stop such expenditure.
“People at the top are living like lords. Once they feel the pinch, the things will work out,” said the bench of justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli, adding that a paucity of funds in the municipal corporations could not be an excuse to deny employees their salaries, as they are at the front line of the civic bodies’ work.
Employees of the three municipal corporations have routinely gone on strike in recent months over the non-payment of their salaries. Thousands of civic body staffers went on an “indefinite” strike on January 7, demanding their pay and pension be released.
The court on Friday said employees are being denied their fundamental right of receiving salaries, a move that would affect the quality of life of the workers, as well as those dependent on them.
“The people who are working on the ground have not got their salaries. The councillor doesn’t care and will continue to roam around in their cars and use the powers of the civic body. When people at the top feel the pinch, then there will be some change. I am first going for the councillors. We want a system in place,” the court added.
The court was hearing several PILs claiming non-payment of salaries and pensions of serving and retired employees, including teachers, doctors and sanitation workers, of the three corporations.
During the hearing, the bench also disapproved of the action of the Delhi government decision to deduct for loans from the amounts transferred to the corporations as aids, saying that even the Reserve Bank of India had imposed a moratorium on recall of loans and declaration of accounts as NPA by banks and financial institutions.
“We all know that revenue has gone down and we are going through a bad phase. You should not have done this, you should not have asked for the repayment of the loan. It’s as good as not giving,” the court told Delhi government, represented by additional standing counsel Satyakam.
Advocate Satyakam urged the court sought time to take instructions on why the deductions were justified following which the court posted the matter for January 21.
It also asked the Delhi government to explain why funds payable to the corporations under the heads of ‘transfer duty’ and ‘parking charges’ were not released, and asked when they will be paid.
The Basic Tax Assessment (BTA) comprises 6% of the revenue collected by the Delhi government which was being deducted by the government to recover the loans given to the corporation, Satyakam told the court. He said that during the pandemic, amounts paid under that head were reduced due to lower revenue collection.
He said grant-in-aid of 6.5% was paid without any reduction to the corporations under the heads of education, health and urban development.
The corporations, however, contended that if the loan amounts are not deducted from the BTA, then they can meet the salaries of all their employees. They said that presently they were unable to pay salaries or pensions due to paucity of funds.