The Kerala High Court on Tuesday refused to stay the state government's Ordinance to defer salary of employees and teachers.
A single-judge bench of Justice Bechu Kurian Thomas, who heard a batch of petitions seeking interim stay on the Ordinance, noted that the government is only deferring the salary and it does not partake in taking away the rights of the employees, reported legal website Live Law.
The court also denied a request to exempt health workers from the purview of the Ordinance.
The state government had promulgated 'Kerala Disaster and Public Health Emergency (Special Provisions) Ordinance 2020' on April 30 to defer six days' salary of the government employees and teachers for five months to meet the expenses for the COVID fight. The Ordinance allowed the government to defer an amount not exceeding one-fourth of the total monthly pay of the employees.
The government was forced to issue the Ordinance after the same single-judge bench had stayed the government order to defer the salary on April 28. The court then noted that the government decision was 'not properly backed by the law.'
The Ordinance, which got the Governor's nod on April 30, also allowed the government to impose a 30 per cent cut in the monthly gross salary or honorarium of all elected representatives in the State - Ministers, Members of the Legislative Assembly, members of different Boards under the Government and members of Local Self Government bodies, for a period of one year.
The petitioners argued that the Ordinance was unconstitutional as it altered the service conditions of the government employees without appropriate legislature. They also argued that the state government had not obtained employees' permission before issuing the Ordinance and hence it violated the principles of natural justice.
In response, the state argued that the Ordinance was legally tenable and it did not violate the constitutional rights of the employees. The state also informed that the deferred amount would be given back to the employees.
The court will hear the pleas again in the second week of June.