Good News for West Bengal Government Employees – Get arrears of dearness allowance
The State Administrative Tribunal (SAT) on Friday ordered that the West Bengal government employees are entitled to get DA at a rate to be calculated on the basis of the All India Consumer Price Index.
The SAT directed that the state government employees are also entitled to get arrears of dearness allowance (DA) within a period of one year, or before giving effect to recommendation of the Sixth Pay Commission set up by the state government, whichever is earlier. The bench said, “In the absence of any mandate under the statutory rules or the administrative directions, we are unable to hold that the state government employees are entitled to get DA at a rate payable to its employees by the central government.” The SAT bench comprised Judicial Member Justice (retd) R K Bag and Administrative Member S K Das.
Reacting to the development, West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said her government was facing financial constraints, and an uphill task of repaying debts caused due to loans taken by the erstwhile Left Front dispensation. The bench also struck down office orders under which central DA was paid to state government employees working at Banga Bhavan in New Delhi or at the Youth Hostel in Chennai as arbitrary, unreasonable and violative of Article 14 of the Constitution.
It, however, said this order will not stand in the way of giving any incentive to state government employees working in New Delhi or Chennai by way of special allowance or any other allowances to compensate the loss suffered by them owing to posting at a place far away from West Bengal. The SAT directed the state to evolve norms within three months from the date of this order for release of DA, so that it can be paid to the state government employees at least twice in a year till giving effect to recommendations of the 6th Pay Commission.
The state government was directed to pay the arrears of DA within one year from the date of this order or before giving effect to the recommendation of the 6th Pay Commission, whichever is earlier.The SAT, however, observed that the state government has the discretion to make payment of arrears of DA to its employees either in cash or by depositing the same in the general provident fund (GPF) with suitable restriction on withdrawal of the same within a specific period of time.
Holding that the state government employees have the right to receive DA on the basic pay fixed in terms of ROPA Rules, 2009, the Calcutta High Court had remitted the case back to the Tribunal to decide two points.The high court had asked the SAT to decide whether the state government employees are entitled to DA at central government rate and whether employees posted in New Delhi and Chennai should get DA at central rate.Holding that DA was a legal right of West Bengal government employees, a division bench of the high court had set aside a SAT order that had said that the allowance cannot be claimed as a right by the state government employees.
However, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said: “This year, we have to pay the Centre Rs 56,000 crore and you expect the government not to hike any taxes or electricity charge.” “In Bengal, medical expenses are free (at state-run hospitals) along with free education… Despite that, the demands are endless,” she said at an administrative meeting in Madhyamgram on Friday.The TMC supremo further said that the state government was sourcing funds from the treasury department.
“How will the state government pay the salaries which amount to crores of rupees, build the infrastructure or construct bridges?” she said. “There are droughts and floods, too… Where will the state government get the funds? We are using funds from the treasury department… and amid all these, the Pay Commission (seventh) is also there. You all have to cooperate with us, it’s our government which had given a 123 per cent hike in DA,” Banerjee added.