A retired army officer has moved the Supreme Court seeking a direction for the Centre to de-freeze the dearness allowance owed to the retired personnel, but which was frozen retrospectively with effect from January 2020 recently by the Finance Ministry, reports legal news website BarandBench.com.
On April 20, the Central Government decided to freeze the disbursement of dearness allowance retrospectively from January 2020 for retired Central Government employees in view of the crisis arising out of COVID-19.
This allowance otherwise was scheduled to be paid out in the first week of April. The decision has now been challenged by a military veteran through this PIL.
The petitioner says that he is adversely affected by this decision considering he has no other source of income. He further informs that he is a cancer patient living in a rented tenement, given that he does not have a house of his own.
"I and lakhs of veterans are aggrieved by arbitrary act of Union of India through Secretary Finance Govt of India New Delhi who were committed to pay arrears of DA or dearness allowance in first week of April 2020 but purposely not payed and on 20th April 2020 has freezed "DA or dearness allowance" retrospectively with effect from 01st January 2020," the petitioner says.
This decision would cause the veterans irreparable loss, especially during the present times when the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting the entire world, the petitioner says. Emphasising on the need for the money due to the veterans from the government, he argues that the same is important for them to "survive honourably."
The petitioner also points out that owing to various issues faced by people in these times of COVID-19, the Prime Minister had also urged all the employers to refrain from slashing the salaries or terminating anyone from their jobs. Despite this, the petitioner has raised grievance that the government itself has decided to freeze the dearness allowance it owed to various classes of its employees and retired personnel.
Calling the orders of the Finance Ministry to freeze such dearness allowance as "arbitrary" and "mala fide", the petitioner says that the decision affects the senior citizens the most as they, as a class of people, are more vulnerable to COVID-19, says the report published by BarandBench.com.
The petitioner also questions the decision of the government to dole out financial packages given thus far, and financial packages planned to be given to business houses, considering that the amount owed as dearness allowance has come to be frozen.
"This arbitrary and illegal mechanical step of Union of India without applying mind must be struck down immediately and all beneficiaries paid their legitimate authorised "DA or dearness allowance" w.e.f 01st January 2020 and continued to be paid," the petition states.
The petitioner, thus, prays for the de-freezing of this money, adding that the Centre should also be directed to immediately stop various financial stimulus packages being given or which are being planned to be given in the near future to business houses, considering the government's claims of having poor financial health at present.