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High Court stays ‘compulsion clause’ in 'Salary Chalenge' order

High Court stays ‘compulsion clause’ in Salary Chalenge order

Kochi: Kerala High Court on Tuesday stayed the state government’s order making it mandatory for its employees who do not participate in the ‘salary challenge’ to file an affidavit stating so.

A division bench comprising Justice C T Ravikumar and Justice A M Babu issued a stay after hearing a petition by Kerala NGO Sangh through advocate S R K Prathap.

The order in question dated 11 September was issued by the finance department of the state government laying down the guidelines for contributing one month’s salary to the Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund (CMDRF) for flood relief. Clause 10 of the order had stated that those employees who were not willing to contribute should file a statement in a prescribed format.

During the hearing, advocate general had submitted that the chief secretary as well as various departments have issued orders stating that there should not be any compulsion in donating salary to CMDRF. However, the court found the order's Clause 10 having the effect of a compulsion for employees to contribute a month's salary. In the absence of such a document from the employee, salary would be deducted.

In the petition, Kerala NGO Sangh had alleged the government’s order was compulsory in nature and has sought to quash the order. The petition was filed by the organization’s president Sunilkumar P and Jayakumar S K after the Kerala Administrative Tribunal declined to issue an interim order.

The organization alleged that order in its wording amounted to extortion and pointed out that employees were not given any option either to choose another method of contribution according their capacity and will.

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