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Judges’ pay bill annulled

Calcutta, July 16: Under pressure following a Supreme Court order, the government today repealed a bill it had passed about three months ago to revise the payscales of employees in the West Bengal Civil Service (Judicial) and the West Bengal Higher Judicial Service.

Finance minister Asim Dasgupta told the Assembly that after the implementation of the fourth pay commission in 1998, the All India Judges Association had moved the apex court, which had asked the Centre to appoint a commission to look into the pay structure of employees in the two services. The employees ranged from muncefs to the levels of district judge and equivalent posts.

Following the apex court order, the Centre formed the Justice K.J. Shetty Commission.

Dasgupta said as the apex court had ordered a commission, the government disbursed the salary of these employees on an ad hoc basis with Rs 8,000 as the pay at the lowest level. The fourth pay commission had recommended the amount for that level.

The Shetty commission submitted its recommendations in November 1999, with Rs 9,000 as the pay at the lowest level. The apex court ruled in May that all states would have to implement the recommendation. It later told a meeting of chief secretaries and advocate-generals the recommendation would have to be followed in “letter and spirit”.

Dasgupta said if the government had to implement the recommendation for only employees of the two services, it would cost an additional Rs 2 crore annually. But, if state government employees in other services demand a parity, it would cost an additional Rs 1,500 crore annually.

“The WBCS Association has already submitted a memorandum as part of the ripple effect,” said the finance minster.

Dasgupta had drawn up the salary structure of the employees keeping the lowest pay at Rs 8,000 and incorporating portions of the Shetty comission’s recommendations. On March 31, the Assembly had passed the West Bengal Civil Service (Judicial) and the West Bengal Higher Judicial Service (Revision of Pay and Allowance) Bill, 2003.

“The state government was compelled to repeal its earlier Bill to avoid a confrontation with the apex court,” said Dasgupta.

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