Ordinance approved, Kerala govt staff will face salary deduction

As per the Disaster and Public Emergency Special Provisions Act, deferment of salaries during disasters or health emergencies is justified.

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With the signing of the Disaster and Public Emergency Special Provisions Act by the Kerala Governor, all employees of the State Government of Kerala will now face a deduction of six day’s salary for the next five months.

This temporary measure was taken to help the state fight the outbreak and related economic crisis. Salary disbursement for the month of April will begin on May 4.

The need for this Ordinance came about when the decision to deduct salaries was questioned, following which the High Court had stayed the order for two months. The State Cabinet then went ahead and floated this new Ordinance, enabling it to defer payment of salary up to 25 per cent. The cash accumulated by deferring salaries will be used by the state in its efforts to check the spread of the virus.

The finance minister of the state, however, clarified that the Ordinance does not go against the HC order. It only abides by the provision in the Act that clearly states that such deferment of salary can be resorted to in case of a health emergency or disaster. The COVID-19 outbreak has been declared as a pandemic by the Centre, and hence, the present situation justifies such a move.

Alongside this, the Ordinance to alter the Kerala Panchayati Raj Act and the Kerala Municipalities Act to renounce the delimitation of wards before the local body elections signed and approved.

The state government had earlier made amendments to the relevant Acts to delimit the wards, following which one ward each was added to the rural and urban local bodies. The Ordinance will now empower the state government to hold elections on the basis of the existing wards.