SC summons CS, finance secy of 16 states for non-compliance of pay panel's report

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NEET-UG 2024 Supreme Court

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New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Thursday summoned the chief and finance secretaries of 16 states for non-compliance of the Second National Judicial Pay Commission recommendations on the payment of arrears of pension and other retirement benefits to the judicial officers.

Expressing strong displeasure over non-compliance of the SNJPC's recommendations, a bench of Chief Justice D Y Chandrachud and justices J B Pardiwala and Manoj Misra said, "We know how to extract compliance now. If we just say that the chief secretary will be present if the affidavit is not filed then it will not be filed.

"We are not sending them to jail but let them be here and then an affidavit will be submitted. Let they be personally present now," the bench said.

Though seven opportunities have been granted to the states, it appears that full compliance has not been affected and several states are in default, it said.

"The chief and finance secretaries have to be personally present. Failing compliance, the court will be constrained to initiate contempt," it said.

According to the order, the bench directed the top two bureaucrats of Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Delhi, Assam, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Mizoram, Himachal Pradesh, Kerala, Meghalaya, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Manipur, Odisha and Rajasthan to appear before it on August 23.

The bench made clear that it will not grant any more more extensions.

It passed the orders after taking note of the submissions and perusing the note provided by lawyer K Parmeswar who is assisting the court as amicus curiae (a friend of court).

At the outset, he also referred to the deduction of tax at source by the states on allowances which are due to the present and retired judicial officers.

"Wherever exemptions are available under the Income Tax Act from deduction of TDS (tax deducted at source) on allowances, the state governments shall ensure that no deductions are made. Wherever TDS are wrongly deducted, the amount shall be refunded to the judicial officers," the bench said.

The bench heard submissions on compliance of the SNJPC by various states.

It rejected the submissions of states like West Bengal, which sought one more year's time, Assam, Andhra Pradesh, Delhi, Himachal Pradesh and Kerala on the alleged delay in complying with the recommendations on payment of arrears and other benefits to the judicial officers.

The bench directed the defaulting states to report compliance by August 20 besides asking their chief secretaries and finance secretaries to appear personally on August 23.

It rejected the vehement submission of Assam that the order be deferred as the state was facing massive flood situations.

The bench also did not allow the submission of Delhi that it was awaiting the Centre's approval.

"We are not concerned with that. You sort it out with the Centre," the CJI said.

On January 10, the top court, in its verdict, had said there was a need to maintain uniformity in service conditions of judicial officers across the country.

It had directed the constitution of a two-judge committee in each high court for overseeing the implementation of the orders on pay, pension and other retirement benefits for the judicial officers according to the SNJPC.

The top court had said it was a matter of grave concern that though officers in other services have availed of a revision of their conditions of service as far back as on January 1, 2016, similar issues pertaining to the judicial officers are still awaiting a final decision eight years thereafter.

It said the judges have retired from service and the family pensioners of those who have passed away are awaiting resolution as well.

The SNJPC recommendations cover pay structure, pension and family pension and allowances, besides dealing with the issue of establishing a permanent mechanism to determine subjects of service conditions of the district judiciary.