New Delhi, Jun 1 (PTI) The Delhi High Court on Monday dismissed a plea challenging the Centre's decision to freeze the dearness allowance (DA) of public servants and pensioners in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, saying the government has the power to take such a decision.
A bench of justices Vipin Sanghi and Rajnish Bhatnagar said under the All India Services (Dearness Allowance) Rules, 1972, entitlement to draw DA is determined by the central government and it can impose whatever conditions it deems fit from time to time.
The court also said there is no statutory obligation on the Centre to continue to enhance the DA or Dearness Relief (DR) at regular intervals i.e. to revise the same upwards from time to time.
'Consequently, there is no vested right in the central government employees or pensioners to receive a higher DA or DR on regular intervals,' the court said.
The petition had also opposed the Centre's decision to delay the proposed four-per cent hike in DA till July 2021 in view of the COVID-19 crisis.
With regard to the proposed four-per cent hike in DA, the bench said the government was not taking it away, it was only postponing it till July 1, 2021 and it had the power to do so.
The petition had also contended that reduction of salaries and allowances could be done at a time of a financial emergency, which was not the case presently.
The bench rejected this contention as well, saying the government had not reduced the salaries or allowances, it had only frozen the payment of DA and DR at the pre-existing level, and put in abeyance any increase in DA and DR till July 2021.
'There is no obligation in law upon the central government to disburse the increase in DA/DR in a time-bound manner,' the bench said, adding, 'For the aforesaid reasons, we do not find any merit in this petition and the same is, accordingly, dismissed.' PTI HMP SKV RC