The West Bengal government on Friday faced the ire of the Calcutta High Court for unnecessary delays in payment of dearness allowance (DA) arrears to the employees of the state-run West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Ltd (WBSEDCL).
Justice Rajasekhar Mantha of Calcutta High Court has directed the state government all pending arrear dues to the WBSEDCL employees by December 6.
On Friday, advocate Soumya Majumdar informed the bench of Justice Mantha that despite the court order, the state government is yet to clear the full DA arrears to the WBSEDCL employees.
In reply, the state advocate general, SN Mukhopadhyay said the state government has filed a review petition at the Calcutta High Court on payment of the DA arrears, the hearing for which is scheduled on December 14.
To this submission, Justice Mantha clarified that filing a review petition does not mean the state government can avoid payment of past DA arrears: “First, the arrears will have to be cleared. The hearing on the review petition will be on January 6 next year instead of December 14. I do not want to add to the inconvenience. So, I am issuing a fresh written directive today. Remember, DA is the right and not charity. An institution can never run without their employees. This cannot continue. Even, there is a clear directive of the Supreme Court in the matter of DA payments.”
The state advocate general then submitted that the state government is trying its best and already allocated an amount of Rs 510 crore for that purpose.
In reaction, Justice Mantha said the matter cannot remain avoided for a prolonged period.
“If you do not have any faith in the judicial system then it is a different issue. But the employees cannot be deprived at any cost. DA is the fruit of their efforts. How long will they remain deprived? That is why, I postponed the date of hearing on the review petition,” Justice Mantha said.