Court seeks report on DA rule in Bengal
Calcutta: Calcutta High Court on Tuesday asked two employees' unions to submit a report stating rules under which they were claiming dearness allowances from the Bengal government and norms the state should follow to fix the DA.
The unions had approached the high court challenging a state administrative tribunal (SAT) order that rejected their demand for a hike in the DA and a parity with the amount that Central government employees get.
Justice Debasish Kargupta, heading a division bench, told the unions' council on Tuesday that they should also inform the court about the rate of DA the employees were getting and the rate their counterparts at the central government received per month.
The bench issued the directive after hearing Sardar Amjad Ali, the lawyer who represented the unions, and fixed the matter for hearing on Wednesday.
The judge also said: "We should know first whether the government is bound to give the DA to its employees and whether the state employees are getting the DA as per rules. Then only can we settle the issue."
The court asked the unions to submit the report on the rules under which the DA demand was made and the norms to fix the rate after Ali claimed that he had enough documents to prove the state employees had legitimate right to claim the DA, that too at the rate of their central counterparts.
The bench was hearing the appeal moved by the Congress-backed Confederation of State Government Employees and the Left-aligned State Government Employees' Union.
Justice Karpgupta informed on Tuesday that after getting the reply from Ali, the bench would like to know the state government's stand.
The case is crucial for over 5 lakh employees, who claim they are getting 55 per cent less DA than the staff of the central government.
The advocate general, Kishore Dutta, will argue on behalf of the state on the matter.
While admitting the appeal earlier, the high court had said the DA was an aspiration of the state employees.
The unions had moved the SAT in November 2016 against the state for not paying DA "arrears" to them.
In its judgment in February last year, the SAT comprising Justice Amit Kumar Talukdar and member Anup Chanda had stated: "The DA is a kind of donation and it is the discretion of the state government when it would increase the rate of dearness allowances of its employees."
According to sources at Nabanna, the government would stick to its argument that it was not mandated to declare the DA for the staff. "If the state has to clear the DA, a sum of Rs 16,200 crore would be required every year. The government is not in a position to increase its salary burden to that extent," said a finance department official.