Kerala HC quashes government order to pay employees missing on strike days
- The court also rejected the contention that leave could be granted to employees who had not attended their duty on the two days of union strike against the Central government.
The Kerala high court on Tuesday quashed the state government order that approved payment of salaries to the government employees for the two days, when they participated in a nation-wide strike against the Central government in January 2019.
A lawyer had challenged the state government’s move to sanction salaries or leaves for many employees, who participated in the two-day strike on January 8 and January 9 in 2019. “There is clear prohibition under the law to call for and participate in strikes and therefore, the action of the government regularising an illegal act cannot be sustained in law,” the HC bench headed by chief justice S Manikumar and justice Shaji P Chaly ruled, while hearing a public interest litigation filed by lawyer B Balagoplan.
The court also rejected the contention that leave could be granted to employees who had not attended their duty on these two days. It also directed the heads of department and the chief secretary to check attendance register and take action within two months. With the verdict, employees who availed leave or payment on these days will have to return their two days’ salaries.
A nationwide two-day strike was called by trade unions in January 2019 to protest against the economic policies of the Union government and it turned into a forced shutdown in Communist-ruled Kerala. Later, the government issued an order granting permission to convert these two days into leave to avoid loss of pay. This was challenged in the high court.
“We do not think the government is at liberty to take any policy decision in absolute violation of the rules. Even if it is a policy decision, the court can look into the legality, correctness or arbitrariness by exercising the power under Article 226 of the Constitution, if such a policy is against the statutory provisions,” the court ruled.