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Kochi, April 28, 2020
The Kerala government suffered a setback on Tuesday when the High Court stayed for two months the former's decision to deduct six-day salary of all its employees in the next five months as a temporary measure.
Various Congress-led staff unions had approached the court over the "arbitrary manner in which employees had been forcibly directed to contribute to the CM Covid Relief Fund".
The court pointed out that salary is an employee's right and he has no clue of how the government will use this donated money.
However the court said that the state government could go in for an appeal, if it wished.
Incidentally, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Finance Minister Thomas Issac had first demanded a contribution of one month's salary each from all state government officials towards the Relief Fund, but the move was shot down by the opposition parties.
Feeling snubbed, the Vijayan government then went ahead and announced that they have no other way but to defer six-day salary for every month for the next five months. It too came under attack from the opposition staff unions which approached the court.
Senior Congress legislator P. T. Thomas said the court order was a "beating for the arrogance and adamant stand taken by Vijayan".
"It should not be forgotten that a controversy had surfaced in the way similar funds collected during the 2018 floods were misused and hence when this call came people by and large were not impressed. So, it's only natural the court stayed this," said Thomas.
Revenue Minister E. Chandrasekheran, however, put up a brave face and said the government will have to abide by the court stay.
"This was resorted to because of paucity of funds at the state's disposal. Now, we will have to see what else can be done," said Chandrasekheran.