Believe it or Not – FCI labourers Earn Rs.4.5 Lakh a Month – It said departmental labourers were earning Rs 79,000 per month on an average.
The Supreme Court on Friday expressed shock at the revelation that labourers at the Food Corporation of India (FCI) earned a whopping Rs. 4.5 lakh as monthly wages, considerably more than the salary of the President of India.
A Bench led by Chief Justice T.S. Thakur said the revelation was an example of the “malpractices” in the FCI system. The Bench was hearing an appeal filed by the FCI Workers’ Union against a series of directions passed by the Nagpur Bench of the Bombay High Court on the basis of a scathing report on the FCI by a High Level Committee headed by senior BJP leader Shanta Kumar.
The bench, which refused to interfere with the High Court order at this stage, said “there has been a Rs 1800 crore of loss per year” to the FCI whose “departmental labourers” are involved in engaging “proxy workers,” which is clear from the HLC’s report.
“Even the high level committee headed by senior BJP leader Shanta Kumar in its report said that 370 labourers were getting salary of around Rs 4.5 lakh per month.
“How can a labourer carrying sacks earn Rs. 4.5 lakh per month? You (departmental labourers) are today earning wages more than that of the President of India,” the Bench observed.
“This is Rs 1800 crore excess of the amount to be paid and you are not allowed to have contract labour. How is Rs 4.5 lakh per month earned by a labourer,” the bench, which also comprised Justices A K Sikri and R Banumathi, asked.
The FCI counsel said there were various incentives that allow departmental workers to earn around Rs 1.1 lakh a month.
“What are the incentive schemes? There is allegation of proxy labour. It is a sub-let kind of thing,” the bench said and also referred to a report of M/S Deloitte on Manpower Planning & Induction Policy saying 370 labourers were getting salary of around Rs 4.5 lakh per month.
It said departmental labourers were earning Rs 79,000 per month on an average. “Do you want this to continue? Those who are engaged in loading and unloading business of sacks are privileged. You are earning more than a gazetted officer,” the bench further said.
The bench did not agree with the claim of Workers Union counsel Amit Sibal that wrong impression was projected and the High Court should not have taken a suo motu cognizance of a media report.
It said “there is something seriously wrong” in the FCI and government has to act fast on the basis of the HLC report, failing which the apex court would constitute its own HLC headed by a retired judge to fix responsibility for the rot.
It said the Centre has to take a call on the basis of the High Court direction to decide whether to abolish the departmental labour system in a phased manner or absorb their services in other establishments as recommended by the HLC.
“Labourers in FCI had very aggressive tendencies and in the past, officers have been murdered,” the bench observed.
“It’s like a golden egg being a labourer in FCI. There is something seriously wrong,” the bench said and asked Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar to take instruction from the Government “as to the steps taken in tune with the high court order.”
A three-judge bench presided over by Chief Justice T S Thakur asked Solicitor General Ranjit Kumar to spell out by next Friday its steps to stop the malpractices as pointed out by a report of a high-level committee headed by BJP leader and former Union minister Shanta Kumar.
“If you don’t listen to response of the high-level committee, we will appoint our own committee, comprising retired SC judges to fix responsibilities. We can’t countenance a situation where loss is caused to the FCI which itself is facing problems in storage capacity, resulting into food grain rotting in open and rodents eating it away,” the bench told Kumar.
The bench said it was giving credence to the HLC report as the members in the Committee were not from private agencies but “there are all eminent people and management experts.”
The bench added, “We would like to know what Government of India is doing,” referring to the FCI’s representation for grant of exemption under Section 31 of Contract Law Act, 1970.
Source: The Hindu