Telangana

Pensioners term cut unconstitutional

Private sector likely to follow example, say Left parties

Opposition parties and pensioners alike have opposed the government’s decision to defer payment of portion of salaries and pensions to the government staff and pensioners citing the impact of the coronavirus (COVID-19) on the economy.

The Telangana Pensioners Joint Action Commission said the government’s decision was “unconstitutional” while the Opposition parties said deferment of payment of portion of salaries and pensions would impact the services that are being delivered by employees during the crisis. They demanded that the government rescind its decision so that the morale of the employees was kept intact.

In a letter addressed to Chief Minister K. Chandrasekhar Rao, opposition parties led by CPI (Marxist) State secretary T. Veerabhadram and his CPI counterpart Chada Venkat Reddy said medical professionals, police personnel, sanitation staff and other departments that were working overtime to contain the spread of the virus risking their own lives and they would be adversely impacted by the decision.

It was not appropriate on the part of the government to claim that the State’s economy suffered on account of 21-day lockdown. The decision comes at a time when the Chief Minister himself assured that he would convince the Central government and the RBI to opt for overdraft facility if need be to bridge the gaps in finances. “It is not proper on the part of the Chief Minister to retract from his claims in so short a time,” the letter said.

Moreover, the decision comes in the light of the orders issued by the government asking the private sector to ensure that salaries of the employees were paid promptly without fail. The government’s decision could influence private sector which too could opt for arbitrary cut in the salaries being paid to the employees. They demanded that the government should instead reduce subsidies given to the rich and corporates and could consider levying new taxes on them to augment its resources rather than cutting down on the payments to employees.

They demanded that the government conduct an all-party meeting to discuss about the situation arising out of the COVID-19 impact on the State so that an action plan could be evolved to effectively tackle the situation.

Pensioners JAC representative K. Lakshmaiah said the decision was unconstitutional as Article 360 of the Constitution provided for cutting the salaries only during a financial emergency. In case of other calamities, the employees/pensioners could decide about the quantum of assistance they would extend for the relief works. Even the Epidemic Diseases Act 1897 adopted by the government did not contain any provision relating to cuts on salaries of the employees, he said adding the government should immediately rescind its decision.

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Printable version | Jun 7, 2020 12:52:32 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/telangana/pensioners-term-cut-unconstitutional/article31220835.ece

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