Thursday, June 8, 2023

J&K HC puts stay on reduction of salary against those appointed under Prime Minister’s Special Package for Kashmiri Migrants

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The Jammu and Kashmir High Court has put a stay on coercive steps against the Kashmiri migrants, appointed under the Prime Minister’s Special Package for Kashmiri Migrants, against reduction of their salaries or effecting any recovery from them.

The Division Bench of Justice Chief Justice Pankaj Mithal and Justice Sanjay Dhar, in an interim order on August 9, held that since the question involved before the Central Administrative Tribunal was important, it was better that the controversy was resolved finally, rather than keeping it pending and creating confusion for time to come. Therefore, the Tribunal has not erred in fixing an early date in getting the Original Application decided.

“To balance the interest of both the parties, we dispose of this writ petition with the direction that the Tribunal will endeavour to decide the Original Application of the petitioners on the date already fixed- November 20, 2021 and in case for any reason, it is not possible for it to decide the Original Application on the said date, at least the application for interim direction shall be considered and decided on merits and till September 20, 2021, no coercive steps shall be taken against the petitioners so as to reduce their salary or to effect any recovery from the petitioners on the basis of S.O 194 dated June 17, 2020,” the order read.

Petitioners Akshay Koul and others had approached the High Court against the Central Administrative Tribunal order of Jammu Bench, Jammu, dated August 2, 2021. The Tribunal had declined to consider the application for grant of interim stay to the petitioners, as it proposed to decide the Original Application itself on the next date fixed.

The question before the Tribunal was whether the petitioners, who were appointed under the Prime Minister’s Special Package for Kashmiri Migrants, notified vide December 30, 2009 order, could be brought within the purview of June 1, 2020 SO, whereby amendments were made to SRO 202 of 2015.

Shuja ul Haq, Advocate for the petitioners, submitted that the SRO 202 of 2015 was not applicable to the petitioners and therefore, SO 194 of 2020 cannot be applied.

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Taking advantage of the pendency of Original Application and the fact that no interim order has been passed therein, the respondents were reducing their salary by applying SO 194 of 2020, alleged the Counsel.

In 2009, the then Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh announced a special job package for Kashmiri migrants in order to rehabilitate them back in Kashmir valley. Recently, the General Administration Department (GAD) has issued an order by making SO-194 applicable to all those PM package employees, who were appointed after June 17, 2020. Under SO-194, the migrant employees working in Kashmir valley will be getting only basic salary without any allowances like HRA, DA, TA, Medical Allowance and no increment during probation period.

These posts are supernumerary posts and the funds for their salaries are not borne on establishment of the Union Territory (UT) of Jammu and Kashmir. The funds for their salaries are borne completely by the Central government, so as such applicability of SO-194 to these supernumerary posts does not arise.

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