Srinagar: The J&K State Pensioners Welfare Federation said on Sunday it will challenge the government of India’s decision to freeze their dearness allowance amid the COVID-19 pandemic in the Supreme Court. The J&K President of the federation, Sampat Prakash has written a letter to three senior Supreme Court lawyers, Prashant Bhushan, Ashok Bhan and Nandita Haksar asking them to file a written petition in the apex court against, what he called a “draconian and arbitrary order”. The government of India recently freezed the dearness allowance of employees from January 1 this year till July 1, 2021.
Citing a 2015 SC judgement, Prakash said that pension is a right and payment of it doesn’t depend upon the discretion of the government. Pension is governed by rules and a government servant coming within those rules is entitled to claim pension, he said. Prakash said that the judgement has recognised that the revision of pension and revision of pay scales were inseparable. “The bench has reiterated that on revision the basic pension can’t be less than 50% of the basic pension in the minimum of the pay Band in the revised scale corresponding to the pre-revised scale, ” he added. The Pensioners Federation President said that the government “cannot take a plea of financial burden to deny legitimate dues of the pensioners”.
He said the court judgement had suggested the government to “avoid unwarranted litigation and not to encourage any litigation for the sake of litigation”. Citing the apex court judgement, Prakash said that the upgradation of pension is a “right and not a bounty”. He said the government of India after studying the impact of inflation had announced increased instalment of Dearness Allowance with effect from 1 January 2020 and promised to pay it to its employees and pensioners in first week of April 2020. However, the government withheld revised DA “illegally and arbitrarily and as a after thought issued malafide orders ordering of freeze of DA retrospectively from 1 January to 1 July 2021,” Prakash alleged.
He said the freezing of the Dearness Allowance “has come as a big blow especially to pensioners at a time when all veterans are more vulnerable to catching COVID 19”. Prakash said the employees and retired pensioners were undergoing various hardships due to the government’s decision. “This arbitrarily and illegal mechanical step of union of India without applying mind must be struck down immediately and all beneficiaries paid their legitimate authorised DA with effect from 1st January 2020 and continued to be paid, ” Prakash said. The J&K President of the Pensioners Federation said that 2.5 lac pensioners had been affected due to the government’s denial of their dearness allowances.