Calcutta HC asks WB govt. to release DA to government employees

In a significant development that will have a direct impact on West Bengal government employees, the Calcutta High Court on Friday upheld an order by the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT) and directed the State government to release Dearness Allowance (DA) and Arrear Dearness Allowance to its employees as per the West Bengal Services (Revision of Pay and Allowance) Rules, 2009 within a period of three months.

A division bench of Justice Harish Tandon and Justice Rabindranath Samanta dismissed the writ petition of the State government filed in 2019 challenging the SAT order directing DA payment to the employees.

“The petitioners are directed to release the Dearness Allowance and Arrear Dearness Allowance to its employees at the rate to be calculated on the basis of All India Consumer Price Index average 536 commensurate with their pay as per the ROPA Rules, 2009 as directed by the Tribunal within three months from date,” the order by the division bench said.

The Court also added that apart from being an “enforceable legal right ‘the right of DA to sustain their livelihood with human dignity’ has been fructified or elevated as fundamental right as enshrined in Article 21 of the Constitution.”

“As observed by the Pay Commission, we are of the same view that to pay respect to the statutory rights of the Government employees to get DA at the rate as above, the Government must generate all its resources,” the division bench observed.  The Court also pointed out there cannot be any categorisation of the State Government employees on the basis of their posting at different locations as it would amount to a classification within the homogeneous class.

Advocate General S.N. Mookherjee had argued that payment of DA is deeply interlinked to the financial ability of the employer and if the resources of the employer do not permit the employer to pay DA to neutralise the high cost of living of an employee, the employer is within its lawful domain to decline payment or disbursement of DA. The West Bengal government, which recently has a number of conditional cash transfer social security schemes, have claimed fund crunch in past few years and even blamed the Centre for not releasing the funds due to the State.

Appearing for petitioners, Senior Advocate Bikash Ranjan Bhattacharya said that most of the State governments have adopted the method of payment of DA to its employees at the same rate as admissible to the Central Government employees which is assessed as per the All India Average Consumer Price Index. The employees of the State government and the political parties in the Opposition welcomed the order by the Calcutta High Court. 

Representatives of the State government employee’s union said that they have been fighting for the DA since 2016 and after the Court’s order, the State has little option but to release the DA.

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Printable version | May 20, 2022 10:52:31 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/kolkata/calcutta-hc-asks-wb-govt-to-release-da-to-government-employees/article65439749.ece