Kochi/Thiruvananthapuram, April 28: In a setback to the LDF government’s plans to mobilise funds for COVID-19 battle, the Kerala High Court on Tuesday stayed an order for salary cut for its employees, observing that it lacked legal backing.
The court order was welcomed by opposition Congress which said it was “a huge blow” to the government that “displayed an arrogant approach” on the matter while Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan reacted cautiously, saying it will have to be followed, PTI reported.
Justice Bechu Kurian Thomas issued the interim order valid for two months, while considering a batch of petitions filed by a section of state government employees and their organisations challenging the April 24 order for deducting one month salary in five instalments.
Noting that the executive order lacked legal backing, the court said it was also ambiguous as it has not clearly stated how the money was going to be spent.
The government order had said the state government employees’ salary for six days every month would be deducted for the next five months as part of raising funds for fighting the COVID-19 pandemic in the state. “This would be applicable to employees of all state-owned enterprises, public sector undertakings, quasi-government organisations, universities, etc in the state,” the order, issued in line with a state cabinet decision, had said.
However, the government order had made it clear there will be no salary cut for staff who earn less than Rs 20,000 per month. The order had also stated that ministers, MLAs, various board members, local body institution members, members of various commissions will receive 30 per cent less salary for one year.