IT IS FOR THE GOVERNMENT TO PAY THE STATUTORY INTEREST TO THOSE WHO HAVE BEEN AGITATING FOR THE AMOUNTS DUE TO THEM OPT AND THEN TO RECOVER IT FROM THE C-STED, IF SO ADVISED: KERALA HIGH COURT
The High Court of Kerala passed a judgement on 19 January, 2023 which stated that it is for the government to pay the statutory interest to those who have been agitating for the amounts due to them opt and then to recover it from the C-STED .It was stated in the case of Chief Secretary To Government Of Kerala vs Janaky P (WA NO. 1798 OF 2022) which was passed by the division judge bench comprising of JUSTICE A.K.JAYASANKARAN NAMBIAR and JUSTICE MOHAMMED NIAS C.P.
FACTS OF THE CASE:
The respondents/writ petitioners were employed in different categories under the Centre for Science and Technology Entrepreneurship Development (C-STED). The Government after evaluating the entire facts found that the C-STED has no future as an independent organization, because it was not covering any meaningful area of work under the Science and Technology Department and it was resolved to absorb some of the employees by creating supernumerary posts in the various organizations under Kerala State Council for Science and Technology and Environment (KSCSTE) to accommodate those employees of C-STED subject to the approval of Governing Council. In a meeting of the officers of C-STED it was decided that C-STED has no future and hence resolved to recommend for winding up of regional offices except offices at Thiruvananthapuram, Ernakulam and Head office at Kozhikode. Government by order decided to wind up all the regional offices of C-STED except the Head Office at Calicut. By a decision, the Governing body of C-STED resolved not to engage employees who were retained by the Government and not to extend their period of employment or to re-appoint them. However, it was resolved to pay the arrears of all the employees. Several steps were taken by the Government as well as the C-STED to pay the arrears. The trail court gave various directions to the Government. Aggrieved by the said directions, the Government has come up in appeal mainly contending that as per the memorandum of association C-STED was formed as an autonomous body without having any financial assistance from the Government, to pay wages to its employees and the entire liability for payment lies with C-STED.
JUDGEMENT OF THE CASE
The court held that in the instant case the gratuity amounts were in fact paid by the Government to the respondents. In as much as, the Government took up the responsibility to pay the gratuity and in fact paid the amount, the liability for paying statutory interest for the delay in making such payment must also be fastened on the Government. It is for the Government to pay the statutory interest to the respondents herein who have been agitating for the amounts due to them opt and then to recover it from the C-STED, if so advised. In the interests of justice the direction to pay interest on gratuity requires no interference in the instant case.As the question of liability of the Government to pay gratuity though it is not the employer was not considered by the learned singe Judge as it was not raised, we are not considering the said legal question and it is left open. The court directed the appellants to pay the interest on the gratuity amounts paid to the respondents within four months’ from the date of receipt of a copy of this judgment.
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JUDGEMENT REVIEWED BY ROSHNI SABU, KERALA LAW ACADEMY LAW COLLEGE.