| Vinod Poddar’s daughter Shubhika Shresth at the state human rights commission office in Patna on Wednesday. Picture by Ashok Sinha |
An advocate has come to the rescue of ailing Vinod Poddar, a retired employee of Bihar State Sugar Corporation (BSSC) facing hardship in his treatment because of non-payment of his salaries for six years and other post-retirement benefits, including pension.
Acting as a Good Samaritan, Aditya Naraian Singh filed a writ petition in Patna High Court (HC) for free on behalf of Poddar, seeking justice in his case.
“After going through the recent media reports on ailing Poddar, I filed a petition (CWJC 8761/2012) against BSSC in Patna High Court on April 30. My plea to the honorable court is to issue directives to the corporation to release the pending salaries and other arrears accruing to post-retirement benefits to Poddar at the earliest. I would like to mention here that Poddar has been denied payment by BSSC in all previous attempts as the corporation claimed that it is facing acute financial crunch. However, even the Supreme Court has given its view in such cases that ‘resource crunch’ is a very poor alibi to be made by any corporation or government body while refusing payment of wages or salaries of its employees,” Singh told The Telegraph.
In the meantime, BSSC on Wednesday issued a second cheque of Rs 25,000 to ailing Poddar after The Telegraph on April 28 reported that Poddar received the first Rs 25,000 cheque from BSSC as advance payment against his pending salaries of Rs 17.5 lakh.
Lakshmeshawar Jha, cane commissioner-cum-managing director of BSSC told The Telegraph: “Acting on the instructions by principal secretary (in-charge) of the sugarcane department, we have issued a second cheque in Poddar’s name to provide interim monetary assistance in his ongoing treatment.”
Poddar’s daughter, Shubhika Shresth, said: “The real reason behind my father’s ailing health is his anxiety about how to support the entire family with no money in his hand. He used to keep on thinking how he would get me married and how he would arrange for my brother’s engineering college fees. He also has a small piece of land, on which he thinks of constructing a small house for the family. My father was too stressed with such thoughts all the time. I strongly believe that if he is paid his pending salaries and other post- retirement benefits, then he would be a much healthier person.”
Shubhika, a third-year student of office management at College of Commerce, has submitted her plea at the chief minister’s secretariat and also sent postcards to all the judges of Patna High Court. But she is yet to receive any response.
Poddar has a history of coronary heart disease since 2005 and retired from BSSC as a liaison officer on September 30, 2011. On April 24 and 26, The Telegraph had reported about the hardships he was facing because of non-payment of his salary for nearly six years and other post-retirement benefits, including pension by BSSC.
Poddar was admitted to Indira Gandhi Institute of Cardiology (IGIC) from April 11 to 28 following continuous pain in his heart and a massive heart attack on the night of April 11. Before leaving for All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Delhi, last Monday evening with teary eyes, he said: “Take care of my daughter and son if I die in Delhi.
Apart from arrears with BSSC, Poddar has also claimed outstanding payments with Bihar State Human Rights Commission, where he was deputed between May 12, 2010 and August 31, 2011.
“An amount of above Rs 1.5 lakh is outstanding against his service provided to BSHRC as Poddar received his salaries on a lower payscale than what was initially promised by the commission. Under the present circumstances, if BSHRC clears his outstanding payment, then it would provide a big relief to Poddar,” said Rajan Sinha, a former colleague and an old friend of Poddar.
However, BSHRC has claimed that it has recently decided to clear outstanding payments to Poddar related to his services given to the commission. “A decision has been taken in favour of Vinod Poddar and his outstanding amount would be released by following the official procedure,” said Justice S.N. Jha, chairman, BSHRC.
Of its total 15 mills, BSSC has leased out eight mills till date and generated Rs 130 crore. However, BSSC has claimed that this amount is being presently utilised to pay off workers of the leased out mills.