Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan on Thursday approved the draft Ordinances for deferring six days’ salary of government teachers and employees for six months and also on shelving the delimitation of local body wards in the wake of the crisis triggered by COVID-19.
The Ordinance on salary deferment was necessitated following a stay order issued by the High Court on the government decision to defer the salary. The stay for two months was issued on the premise that it lacked legal sanction.
Finance Minister T.M. Thomas Isaac clarified here on Thursday that the impediment for deducting the salary had been cleared with the Governor signing the ordinance and disbursal would commence on May 4.
The government was not on a collision course with the employees and teachers, but was forced to take the decision in the wake of the grave crisis. The deferred salary would be retained in a separate account and used for virus containment efforts, he said.
Referring to the Opposition United Democratic Front allegation that the government did not take them into confidence, Dr. Isaac said that Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan had broached the subject with them, but to no avail and hence had to go ahead.
The Ordinance to amend the Kerala Panchayati Raj Act and the Kerala Municipalities Act to relinquish delimitation of wards before the local body elections in October was also approved by Mr. Khan on Thursday.
Earlier, the government had amended the Acts to delimit the wards and it was decided to add one more ward each to the rural and urban local bodies.
The Ordinance will give powers to the government to conduct the elections on the basis of the existing wards itself. The government had constituted the delimitation commission and preliminary procedures for redrawing the boundaries were progressing too.
The government dropped the decision following the COVID-19 outbreak. Since local body secretaries who hold the key to the delimitation procedures have been tasked with the containment activities, the government decided to shelve the process. Now, it has got the consent of the Governor too.