Deferring of pensions & salaries by Telangana govt. illegal: HC

Hyderabad: Telangana High Court on Monday said that the orders issued by Telangana government deferring 25% of pensions and 50% of salaries are prima facie illegal. The court said this while hearing a batch of PIL petitions challenging deferment of pensions and salaries.

The bench of Chief Justice Raghvendra Singh Chauhan and Justice B. Vijaysen Reddy observed that the government orders were not backed by any provision of the law. The CJ further stated that the State government cannot issue ‘farman’ as per its wishes and a “Government Order’ has to go if it was not backed by the law.

It must be recalled that Telangana government in April issued orders deferring 50% of the pension amounts to retired employees during the lockdown imposed due to COVID-19, the State. However, the deferred pension amount was brought to 25%, following the HC intervention.

The bench noted that pension is the only source of income for retired employees and asked Advocate General B.S. Prasad how the government expects them to manage with 25% of pension deferment. The bench further asked, how can they meet their medical and other expenses?

The Advocate General requested time for explaining the government stand. However, the bench refused to adjourn it till July saying the pensioners were suffering. “We cannot leave them hanging in air,” the bench remarked.

The AG told the court the government’s decision to defer pension amounts was backed by Supreme Court judgments. He argued that the State was reeling under financial repercussions arising out of the lockdown due to coronavirus.

The bench also sought clarification from the government as to how long pension payments would be deferred. The government cannot keep the pensioners guessing, it said.

The next hearing has been posted on Wednesday.