Delhi HC dismisses PIL challenging govts' decision to freeze DA of its employees

New Delhi [India], June 2 (ANI): The Delhi High Court dismissed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), challenging the Centre and Delhi government's decision to freeze the Dearness Allowance (DA) of their employees and pensioners.

The petition filed by Hitesh Bhardwaj through Advocates Pradeep Sharma and Harsh K Sharma had sought the DA to be released immediately to the employees and pensioners. It said that its release would give a morale boost to the health warriors, who are working hard to protect the people from coronavirus.

The Division Bench of Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Rajneesh Bhatnagar stated that "So far as the right to receive the increase of Dearness Allowance/ Dearness Relief already declared by the Government with effect from January 1, 2020 is concerned, it falls well within the domain of the Central Government to decide as to when to disburse the said increase. There is no obligation in law upon the Central Government to disburse the increase in Dearness Allowance/ Dearness Relief within a time-bound manner".

"We have noticed Rule 3 of the All India Services (Dearness Allowance) Rules, 1972. The said Rule does not state that the Central Government can form, or communicate, its decision with regard to entitlement to draw Dearness Allowance, subject to conditions, only by framing another rule, or by a gazette notification. There is no such requirement in law. Therefore, we do not find any merits in the submission of the petition," the court observed

The plea said that the decision of freezing of DA by the Centre and Delhi government despite the fact that there is rising inflation especially in Delhi, which has witnessed a hike in liquor, petrol and diesel prices and other essential commodities, that has a direct impact on common man, especially the government servants and pensioners.

It added that the announcement of freezing of the allowance freeze, amid rising inflation, without any financial emergency seems to be a violation of the provisions of Article 360 of Constitution of India.

Judges while passing the order also observed that "In the present case, the Office Memorandum does not seek to reduce either the salaries or allowances, which includes Dearness Allowance and Dearness Relief in respect of serving Government servants, or its pensioners. All that it does is to freeze the payment of Dearness Allowance and Dearness Relief at the pre-existing level and to put in abeyance any increase in Dearness Allowance and Dearness Relief till July 2021. The said freeze does not tantamount to the reduction of either salary or allowances, of persons serving in connection with the affairs of the State".

However, Advocate Sharma after the dismissal of the petition said that "the order was totally arbitrary as it has not dealt with entire contents submissions" and added that it will be challenged before the Supreme Court.

Dearness Allowance is granted to government employees and pensioners to compensate for the rising inflation.

The Finance Ministry has recently decided to put on hold increment in dearness allowance for 50 lakh Central government employees and 61 lakh pensioners till July 2021 due to the COVID-19 crisis. Delhi government had also followed the Centre's order. (ANI)