HC tells Punjab govt to stop salaries of two top bureaucrats till they comply with court order

CHANDIGARH, Dec 8: The high court here has directed the Punjab government to stop the salaries of the heads of its education and finance departments for as long as they don’t grant “service benefits” to a group of teachers who had moved court over a decade back.

The teachers had filed a petition before the Punjab and Haryana High Court seeking benefits from their previous service in government-aided schools when their salaries are calculated while joining government schools, advocate Alka Chatrath said on Friday.

Despite a court order in their favour in 2018, the petitioners were not given the benefit.

“This Court cannot countenance this kind of slackness on the part of the respondents; and the time of court cannot be wasted for such unjustified reasons,” Justice Rajbir Sehrawat ordered. “Therefore, coercive directions have become imperative in the case.”

The order said the payment of salaries to the principal secretaries in Punjab’s education and finance departments “shall remain stopped till the compliance of the order”.

The order was passed by the court while hearing a contempt of court plea filed by Anil Kumar and others.

After the initial petition filed over a decade back, another single-judge bench of the high court had in 2018 directed the Punjab government and its concerned departments to fix the teachers’ pay in terms of the prescribed rules.

The bench had then also directed that the petitioners be granted the necessary consequential benefits.

However, the state authorities did not comply with the court orders, Chatrath, who is the advocate for the petitioners, said.

In the contempt plea, the court was told that the 2018 order had been challenged in a later plea but that was dismissed by a division bench of the high court in September last year.

The state authorities had then moved the Supreme Court, but their special leave petition (SLP) was also dismissed by the apex court this April.

Despite that, the order passed by the high court was not complied with, she said.

In August, the state counsel submitted that they were already in the process of complying with the order but so far nothing has been done, she said.

Again, on December 5, the state’s counsel claimed that the process for complying with the order was on, according to Chatrath.

The matter would be heard next on February 21. (PTI)