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Court criticizes Govt; Retired labourers awarded relief

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From Our Legal Correspondent

Thiruvananthapuram:  Finally 15 retired labourers who were fighting for justice got relief from the Kerala Administrative Tribunal, Thiruvananthapuram Bench. The petitioners who had retired from a State Agriculture Farm in Kollam district about 15 years ago were recently served a notice to pay back hefty amounts paid “in excess” to them as their retirement benefits at the time of retirement.

While hearing the petitioners, the court criticized the department secretary for issuing such a notice for recovering “excess amount” reportedly paid to the labourers as their legitimate retirement benefits. The government pleader tried to justify the secretary saying the notice for recovery was sent to the retired labourers on the basis of the written consent from these petitioners given at the time of accepting their benefits. However, the Advocate Salini T S , the counsel for the petitioners argues that it was unnecessary and inhuman approach from the part of the government to go for recovery proceedings against the hapless labourers after more than a decade of their retirement.

The counsel for the petitioners argued that the government’s move in this case is unjust and inhuman. She presented the court that all the petitioners were permanent workers of the state agriculture farm for many years and many of them are victims of various ailments. Most of them are uneducated and do not even pay the three Rs. So it was gross injustice from the part of an elected government to issue such illegal notice for unjust financial recoveries.

The Bench conceded the argument of the Counsel and disposed the case in favour of the petitioners with a strong observation against the government and observed that the action of the State Agriculture Secretary, a senior and responsible official of the government, cannot be justified by any count.   

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