HC directs release of COLA, DA to J&KTDC employees

SRINAGAR: The J&K high court has quashed an order by Jammu and Kashmir Tourism Development Corporation, rejecting claims of various employees for Cost of Living Allowance (COLA) and Dearness Allowance (DA) due to them with effect from January 2007.
“The total magnitude of the differential arrears under the three heads, difference of pay arrears, gratuity and leave salary, comes to Rs 1, 02, 77, 455. It is unfortunate on part of the Corporation that it has made petitioners to undergo agony for years together for such a paltry sum when it has been earning record profit over years,” a single bench of Justice Ali Mohammad Magrey observed while disposing of a petition filed by a number of employees by quashing the Corporation’s 9 November 2012 order.
Subsequently, the court directed the Corporation to release and pay to the employees all the outstanding arrears on account of COLA with effect from 1.1.2007 within two months.
It also made it clear that in case of the employees, who retired after the COLA was converted into DA with effect from July 2010, allowance shall also be released in their favour within the two months.
“The balance amount due to the petitioners on account of Gratuity to be determined, assessed and calculated on the basis of the provision of section 4(3) of Payment of Wages Act, of course minus the amount they have already been paid on that count,” the court said.
While disposing of the case, the court observed that the Corporation has “slept over” the matter and unnecessarily refused dues to the employees.
The employees, it said, were entitled to release and disbursement of the dues described and enumerated in the Supreme Court Judgment. “Respondents (corporation authorities) are liable to calculate such arrears and pay the same to the petitioners without any further delay”, court said.
“It is painful that the order of the court passed by consent of the counsel for the parties (12-09-2012) has been dealt with disdainfully inasmuch as the impugned order, professed to be in compliance of the court order, has been passed by the Chief Accounts Officer of the Corporation. It is not comprehendible how the CEO has assumed to himself the powers of the Board of Directors, or in what circumstances, the Corporation has assimilated the powers of the Board to one person, that too to a CEO”, the court observed.
The claim of the employees was rejected by the Corporation only on the ground of financial condition and the court observed that it was “ground of hoax only pressed into service to deny them their legitimate rights.”
“The impugned order has been passed in a slipshod manner, without application of mind and by an incompetent officer. This order does not show that it is based on any resolution passed by the Board of Directors,” the court said and quashed the order by Chief Accounts Officer.