No need for non-consent letter from employees defying salary challenge: SC

Salary challenge: SC rejects Kerala govt's ple

New Delhi: In a setback for the LDF government in Kerala, the Supreme Court has refused to stay a High Court order that barred the state government from collecting non-consent letters from government employees who did not wish to participate in the 'salary challenge'.

The Kerala government had urged its employees to contribute a month's salary to the Chief Minister's Distress Relief Fund (CMDRF) to rebuild the state after the worst floods in a century. The campaign has been dubbed salary challenge on the lines of similar initiatives elsewhere. 

The Pinarayi-led government last week moved the Supreme Court against the Kerala HC order that went against its apparent bid to force employees to part with their pay. 

"There is no need for those who refuse to give money to humiliate themselves by giving in a certificate. Plus they have no guarantee that the collected money would be used for relief efforts. It's for the state government to instil in them such a belief," the SC said on Monday.

A two-judge bench of the Kerala HC in September noted that the government order prima facie appeared to be compelling the employees to give up a month’s salary, thus amounting to forced donation.

There could be people rich enough to contribute to the relief fund and yet not doing it, the court noted, wondering how the government could track that section of the population. The HC said the government should give individual consideration to the financial situation while going for such a drive. Its order should not hurt any such family’s dignity. While none suspected the objective of the salary challenge, the employees should be left to decide how much amount they pay to the CM’s relief fund, the court added, while hearing a case led by the Kerala NGO Sangh.

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