New Delhi, Feb. 3: Dragged to the Supreme Court for its alleged failure to pay salaries to thousands of employees, the Bihar government today contended in court that Patna High Court should decide the matter and find where the fault lay.
Bihar senior counsel Shanti Bhushan, also a former Union law minister, told the apex court that the undertakings which were allegedly not paying salaries were sick; their winding-up petitions were already filed in the high court.
“At this juncture, the Bihar government cannot take responsibility for any alleged mess” in the matter, Bhushan told the bench of Chief Justice V.N. Khare, Justice S.B. Sinha and Justice A.R. Lakshmanan.
“Let the (Patna) high court decide on the winding-up petitions. In any joint stock company, we (Bihar government) are liable only to the extent of the shares we hold,” Bhushan said.
Supreme Court lawyer Kapila Hingorani had filed a public interest litigation (PIL) in the apex court, contending that over 1,000 employees had died because of non-payment of salaries and the state was responsible. The PIL had sought action against errant state officials.
The apex court has now given Hingorani two weeks to submit precedents on whether the court had intervened and issued writ in any other similar case.
One of the main contentions of this case is whether a government undertaking is a “state” within the meaning of Article 12. A body that is part and parcel of a state is normally construed to be a “state” within the meaning of this constitutional provision. Relief is often granted from the government through legal action. For example, a corporation is a “state” under this Article, and for any violation, a direction can be issued to the state.
The Supreme Court today directed Wakf tribunals across the country to dispose of about 300,000 Imams’ applications for revised salaries.
A bench of Justices M.B. Shah and Arun Kumar said the tribunals in all states should decide the Imams’ applications in accordance with the apex court order of 1993 and the scheme (for revision of salaries) framed then.