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SC asks Bihar government to deposit
Rs 50 crore for salary payment
May 09, 2003 18:07 IST
The Supreme Court on Friday directed the Bihar government to deposit Rs 50crore (Rs 500 million) in two months in the Patna high court for payment of salaries to employees of Public Sector Undertakings and government corporations, who have not been paid for a long time.
A bench comprising Chief Justice V N Khare and Justice S B Sinha said by this interim direction, the Bihar government is to deposit Rs 25 crore (Rs 250 million) within one month and the other Rs 25 crore in the next month.
"The HC shall see to it that the sum so deposited and/or otherwise received from any source, including by way of sale of assets of government companies and PSUs, be paid proportionately to concerned employees."
"The HC, however, in its discretion, may direct disbursement of some funds to needy employees on an ad hoc basis so as to enable them to sustain themselves for the time being," the Justice Khare said and added that rights of the workmen should be considered in terms of Section 529 of the Companies Act.
The bench directed the high court to dispose all cases pertaining to liquidation of government companies and order sale and disposal of the property.
The apex court said the high court would constitute a three-member committee of retired and sitting judges to scrutinise the liability of government-owned companies and submit a report to the HC in three months time.
Directing the Bihar government to bear all expenses of the committee, the bench said the HC would issue necessary direction to the committee from time to time.
It also directed the Union Government to take urgent steps towards division of assets between Bihar and Jharkhand under the State Reorganisation Act and impleaded Jharkhand as a party in the case.
A wave of jubilation swept through 22,000 families of the employees of 19 Bihar government-owned boards and corporations when news of Supreme Court directive reached them.
"We are thrilled by the Apex Court order as it is like the light at the end of the tunnel," Gopal Tiwari, Office Secretary of Bihar Lok Upkram Bachao Samiti, said.
Tiwari, an employee of the Bihar State Industrial Development Corporation, said he had not received salary for over 17 months and said, "At least four of my colleagues, died either of starvation or due to their inability to pay for medical treatment."
He said an Under Secretary had fainted in his office a couple of days ago due to hunger. The Minister for Industries Vishwamohan Sharma had given Rs 500 for his treatment, but the amount was inadequate.
The court order came as succour to Jagdish Mandal, an employee of the state Construction Corporation, who had sought permission of his Managing Director to sell off one of his kidneys to pay for the treatment of his ailing wife and a mentally challenged son.
Bihar Industries Minister Vishwa Mohan Sharma said the government was yet to receive a copy of the judgment. "We will take a stand only after going through the judgment, which will be discussed in the state cabinet," he said.
Labour Minister Upendra Prasad Verma said the government would respect the court's verdict and at the same time undertake an exercise to ascertain whether the appointments made to the different Boards and Corporations were genuine.
Ashwini Kumar, convener of the Bihar Lok Upkram Bachao Samiti, claimed at least 1,400 employees of various state-owned Corporations and Boards had died over the last few years due to starvation and lack of medical attention.
Buoyed by the verdict, the employees of various corporations have decided to take out a victory procession in Patna on Saturday.
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