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Delhi HC stays single judge's order mandating private schools implement Pay Commission recommendations for staff

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New Delhi, Nov 29 (IANS) The Delhi High Court has stayed its single-judge bench's order directing the Delhi government to establish a high-powered committee to oversee the implementation of recommendations and guidelines from the sixth and seventh Central Pay Commissions for staff in private unaided schools.

A single-judge bench of Justice Chnadra Dhari Singh had said that private schools must adhere to the recommendations of the sixth and seventh Central Pay Commissions (CPC) and ensure the payment of mandated salaries and benefits to their teaching and non-teaching employees.

An appeal was filed by staff members of these schools, challenging certain aspects of Justice Singh’s judgement.

The staff members, represented by advocates Ashok Agarwal and Kumar Utkarsh, argued that there was no justification for referring their case to the proposed committees. They contended that the creation of such committees exceeded the powers of a writ court under the Constitution and deemed the committees unnecessary and unworkable.

Now, a division bench of Acting Chief Justice Manmohan and Justice Mini Pushkarna has stayed certain paragraphs from Justice Singh’s judgement, and issued notice to the Delhi government and several private schools on the appeal.

The matter is scheduled for further hearing on January 15, 2024.

Justice Singh's ruling came on a series of petitions filed by school staff seeking the benefits of the sixth and seventh Pay Commissions, including arrears and other entitlements with interest. He had said that employees have a vested right to receive salaries and emoluments in accordance with the pay commissions, and schools cannot use lack of funds as a reason to deny these entitlements.

He had explicitly stated that no school can seek a waiver from implementing the Pay Commission recommendations, as doing so would jeopardise the standardised compensation for school employees, allowing schools to arbitrarily set salaries.

Justice Singh’s judgement had stressed on the equality stipulated by Section 10 of the Delhi School Education (DSE) Act, 1973, which mandates that the salaries and allowances of recognised school employees should not be less than those of corresponding status in schools run by the appropriate authority.

He extended this obligation to unaided minority schools, saying that they too must comply with Section 10 of the DSE Act. He had directed the Delhi government to establish high-powered committees at the state and central levels to supervise the implementation of Pay Commission recommendations. These committees would have ensured the expeditious resolution of issues related to fee hikes, salaries, and other benefits.

The central committee, headed by Delhi's Education Secretary, would receive recommendations from zonal committees, headed by zonal education officers, Justice Singh had ordered. He had mandated that the central committee would decide on these recommendations within six weeks, stressing on the urgency of addressing the concerns raised by teaching and non-teaching staff in various private schools.

Despite schools arguing financial constraints, the court held that non-compliance with Department of Education notifications for Pay Commission recommendations violated the petitioners' constitutional rights.

--IANS

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