21 years on, Maharashtra yet to clear Fifth Pay Commission dues of khadi staff
Mumbai city news: The Bombay high court ruled that the government cannot discriminate against its employees using the profit-loss argument.mumbai Updated: Jun 04, 2017 01:38 IST
At a time when Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government are aggressively promoting khadi, the Maharashtra government has been withholding the Fifth Pay Commission arrears of about 500 employees of the state khadi board since 1996. To defend its decision, the state recently told the Bombay high court that the board was a “loss making unit”.
These employees are from Maharashtra State Khadi and Village Industries Board . The Fifth Pay Commission came into effect on April 1, 1996.
The Maharashtra government has not released Rs5.8 crore in arrears, citing a “financial crunch”. In the high court, the state argued that the cabinet was to decide whether these employees “deserve” the Fifth Pay Commission benefits, considering the state board’s performance.
The court ruled that the government can neither cite a “paucity of funds” nor “discriminate” against its employees using the profit-loss argument. It also directed the state government to take a decision over disbursement of the arrears by June 12 — the next date of hearing.
As per the employees’ plea filed through their counsel Rushabh Seth, in June 2004, the Maharashtra government issued a resolution which notified that the recommendations of the Fifth Pay Commission would be implemented for all state government employees. It said that the arrears accrued between 1996 and 2004 will also be released.
The state cleared the Fifth Pay Commission arrears of all state employees but Khadi board employees. It even disbursed the dues of khadi board’s retired employees.
These 500-odd employees have been litigating in Bombay HC for over a decade. They argued that if the state indeed believed that the board was a loss making unit then why does it not shut it down?
The high court has made it clear that these employees are entitled to all benefits of the pay commission.
A bench led by Justice Anoop V Mohta said it was “undisputable that the petitioners were entitled to the benefits of the fifth as well as the subsequent pay commission recommendations”.