Kerala HC Criticizes State Government for Delayed Salaries in KSRTC During Onam Celebrations

Aug23,2023 #kerala HC #KSRTC #onam #salaries
Kerala HC Law Insider

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Published on: 23 August 2023 at 12:10 IST

The Kerala High Court has rebuked the State Government for the delayed disbursement of salaries to employees of the Kerala State Road Transportation Corporation Ltd. (KSRTC) amidst the festive fervor of Onam.

The Court addressed a writ petition filed by the employees against KSRTC, expressing their discontent over salary delays.

Justice Devan Ramachandran, presiding over a Single Bench, commented, “While the entire State is in celebratory mode for Onam, this Court cannot accept that hardworking KSRTC employees, particularly its drivers and conductors, should go without their salaries for July 2023.”

The Bench found it perplexing that the Government has not presented an alternative solution for KSRTC apart from providing monthly assistance, which, despite this, results in delayed payments until the month-end.

The Court remarked that such actions could lead to unnecessary disputes and turmoil within the KSRTC ranks.

Representing the petitioners were M/S. P. Nandakumar & Amrutha Sanjeev, while the State and KSRTC were represented by Special Government Pleader Santhosh Kumar and Standing Counsel Deepu Thankan, respectively.

A civil writ petition was submitted before the High Court, requesting a directive for respondents to ensure salaries are paid to the petitioners by the 5th of each subsequent month, pending resolution of the petition. The petitioners had repeatedly raised concerns about the delay in their salary payments. The High Court had issued several orders directing KSRTC to release salaries and pay them by a specific date, ideally by the 5th or 10th of each month to avoid employee hardships.

Despite these orders, KSRTC had failed to meet its obligation of timely salary payment, leading to the petitioners seeking intervention from the High Court. In July, the Court had ordered KSRTC to pay employee salaries, and the matter was adjourned for the next hearing on August 21, 2023.

In the context mentioned, the High Court noted, “The learned Special Government Pleader – Sri. Santhosh Kumar, submitted that the High-Level Meeting discussed various aspects of the Kerala State Road Transport Corporation (KSRTC), and the Government is willing to compensate for any payment shortfall in salaries, though it has been conveyed to the KSRTC Management that provisions for Festival Allowances must be sourced from their own funds.”

The Court questioned why, despite the Government’s commitment to temporarily keep KSRTC out of financial trouble, the payments were still being delayed until the latter part of the month.

The Court emphasized that the Government’s unexplained delay contradicted its stated commitment.

No plausible explanation has been offered, despite repeated queries from this Court,” the Court remarked.

The counsel for KSRTC informed the Court that an additional Rs. 30 crores is needed to pay full salaries for July 2023 and an extra 10 crores will be necessary for festival bonuses and allowances.

“It is now imperative that the Government and KSRTC secure Rs. 40 crores, and this delay cannot be tolerated further since ‘Thiruvonam’ falls on August 29, 2023, with August 28, 2023, being a public holiday. … The learned Special Government Pleader – Sri. Santhosh Kumar, requested time until August 24, 2023, to respond,” the Court stated.

Consequently, the High Court adjourned the hearing to August 24, 2023, clarifying that provisions for the aforementioned amount or at least Rs. 30 crores should be confirmed on that date.

Case Title: R. Baji & Ors. v. Kerala State Road Transport Corporation Ltd. & Ors.

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