New Delhi (ILNS): The Bombay High Court has directed the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to pay the arrears to its physically challenged employees in two instalments for the days they failed to report to work during the lockdown.
The court also directed the corporation that the monetary benefits that each physically disabled employee is entitled to shall be calculated and released in their favour in two equal monthly instalments as early as possible. Further clarifying, it said: “The first of which should reach them before Diwali and the second within 45 days of payment of the first instalment.”
The divisional bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Girish Kulkarni allowed a petition filed by the National Association of Blind through advocate Uday Warunjikar, highlighting the inhuman face of the BMC over the issue of exempting its differently-abled workers.
The counsel for the petitioner claimed that the effect of the impugned notification dated May 26, 2020 issued by the general administration department of the corporation directing all the concerned ministries and the departments that the employees, who are physically disabled, ought to be exempted from attendance while the roster of the staff to attend to essential services is drawn which was earlier extended to the physically disabled employees of the corporation, with retrospective effect leaving such employees high and dry is arbitrary in nature.
Senior advocate AV Bukhari appeared for the BMC and contended that just because the Union and the state government have exempted such workers, it wasn’t bound to follow the said decisions. It also pointed out that providing special facilities or paying salaries to such workers despite them not reporting to work would make an impact on the civic body’s finances.
The Court while considering the submission noted that the BMC should have followed the circulars of the Central and State Government which had exempted physically disabled employees from reporting at their respective workplaces during the lockdown period keeping in mind the inconveniences that a physically disabled person may face for travelling to work.
The Court said that: “If indeed the corporation was not inclined to offer financial benefits like pay to the physically disabled employees who do not report for duty, it was its duty as a model employer to make special arrangements for public transport or special measures to ensure hassle-free travel by such employees to their respective work places.”
The bench further reminded the BMC body that it is a creature of the statute with specific obligations to discharge “for the interest of the people and not a private employer working with a mindset of earning profits.”
“We direct the Corporation to ensure that none of the physically disabled employees, who have not reported for duty during the pandemic are denied pay benefits which they would have been entitled to, but for the pandemic and had they reported for duty. The monetary benefits that each employee is entitled shall be calculated and released in their favour in two equal monthly installments as early as possible, the first of which should reach them before Diwali and the second within 45 days of payment of the first installment,”ordered the High Court.