Unpaid MCD employees, pensioners faced pinch, HC expects MCDs to pay arrears by Diwali

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New Delhi, Nov 5 (PTI) Unpaid MCD employees and retired staff have faced the real and maximum pinch during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Delhi High Court Thursday said, asking the civic bodies to make an attempt to release the arrears as festival of Diwali is round the corner.

The high court lamented over the sad situation where pensioners have not been paid pensions by the North Delhi Municipal Corporation (NrDMC) after April and it was not acceptable that the retired staff are completely left high and dry as others are at least paid something.

'At the end of the day, the real pinch is being faced by the employees and their family members who have limited resources available to them and have stretched it to the maximum over the entire period of pandemic with hardly any nest egg left to tide over,” a bench of Justices Hima Kohli and Subramonium Prasad said.

The bench was hearing various petitions relating to non-payment of salaries of employees and pensioners of different cadres by the three municipal corporations of Delhi -- North, East and South.

The list of petitioners includes doctors, nurses, paramedic staff, safai karamcharis, teachers, class-IV employees and retired staff like teachers and engineers.

The bench said “the civic bodies, particularly NrDMC, shall make an endeavour to take steps to release arrears of salaries of employees and pensions of retired persons at the earliest keeping in mind the festival of Diwali which is round the corner.” “Don’t forget this is a festive season and besides their basic needs, wages are everybody's right and where will they go to fulfill the basic needs of their families,” it said, adding that there are old and ailing persons who need to get medical treatments which cannot wait.

During the hearing, the common grievance raised by the three MCDs was against the Delhi government which has allegedly squeezed the funds and not not released the full amount due to the corporations, leading to non-payment of salaries.

However, the claim was disputed by the counsel for Delhi government who said the way revenue collection has hit the MCDs, it has affected the state also.

Advocate Satyakam said the Delhi government expects the Central government to release the fund to it which is over 10,000 crore.

Central government standing counsel Anil Soni also disputed the submission of the Delhi government and said he will have to obtain instructions on the amount.

The bench also observed that the court cannot be an arbitrator between the government agencies or look into the budget of the Central government, Delhi government and civic agencies and arrive at any conclusion as to which particular agency is in default and the reasons thereof.

It said it is for the government agencies to work in unison and put their heads together and come up with a solution and find requisite funds to release salaries of employees and retired staff.

Advocate Divya Prakash Pande, representing NrDMC, told the court that salaries of health workers, teachers, safai karamcharis, class-IV employees have been paid upto September, July, August and June respectively.

Regarding the retired employees, the court was informed that NrDMC, EDMC and SDMC have released pensions till April, August and September respectively.

The high court directed the three MCDs and Delhi government to file status reports regarding release of funds or salaries and pensions and listed the matter for further hearing on December 16.

The Delhi government had earlier told the high court that due to the COVID-19 pandemic its tax collection took a huge dive of 57 per cent and therefore, the share of its tax collection which goes to the corporations also took the same cut.

It had said that the Delhi government was yet to receive funds from the Centre out of the GST collection. PTI SKV SKV RKS RKS