The Kerala High Court has stayed a directive issued by the state government which demanded a ‘no consent’ letter from employees who are unwilling to donate one month’s salary to the Chief Minister’s Disaster Relief Fund as part of the ‘Salary Challenge’.
The High Court stated that employees can donate whatever amount they prefer. It also ordered a detailed evaluation to be conducted in this regard. The Kerala government had begun the salary challenge after the August floods, in which all government employees were asked to donate a month’s salaries to the CM relief fund. The government had faced some opposition, but went ahead with the plan stating that they had received positive responses from most employees.
However, several staff members later began to dissent against the challenge by refusing to participate following this. In September, a secretariat employee working in its finance department was transferred for saying ‘no’ to the salary challenge as it was inconvenient for him to donate his one month and salary to the CMDRF. The employee concerned was then later reinstated to his post after he took to Facebook to apologise for his actions and agreed to contribute.
Last month 24 Special Armed Police were also transferred for not participating in the salary challenge. Media reports said that the officials who were transferred belonged to various wings of SAP and had submitted a letter stating that they could not donate their salary for various reasons.
The government has come under criticism from many quarters for asking employees to donate their salary. Though Finance Minister Thomas Isaac had reiterated that donations were not mandatory, instances of CPI (M) affiliated unions trying to shame those who were unwilling to donate had cropped up many times.