Sudipta Bhattacharyya and Ors. Vs. Visva-Bharati and Ors. - (High Court of Calcutta) (27 Jul 2021)
The University cannot deduct a portion of the salary of its employees, as donation, without obtaining their consent
The Petitioners are Adhyapakas of different departments of Visva-Bharati, Santiniketan. They are dissatisfied with the action on the part of the Registrar (Acting), Visva-Bharati in issuing a notice being No. REG/1547 dated 24th May, 2020 intimating that the accounts office will deduct a day’s salary from the monthly salary of May, 2020, for donating the same in the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund, West Bengal/West Bengal State Emergency Relief Fund in aid of the people affected by cyclone Amphan that hit Kolkata and several districts of West Bengal on 20th May, 2020.
The issue to be decided in the instant writ petition is, whether the University can deduct a portion of the salary of its employees, as donation, without obtaining their consent.
An employee is paid salary in lieu of the service rendered. The same is a valuable right in the hand of the employee. The said right cannot be curtailed or infringed without a definite provision of law. Though the University tried to overcome the lacuna in the notice dated 24th May, 2020, by publishing the subsequent notice dated 29th May, 2020 by invoking certain provisions of the Act, but even then, the act of the University cannot be said to be a valid one.
The notice dated 29th May, 2020 mentions that the employees of Visva- Bharati ‘are expected to donate’. The term ‘expected’ can never be treated as a mandate. An option to ‘not opt’ ought to have been inserted. The University deducted a day’s salary from several employees by ignoring their unwillingness. unilateral deduction of salary or any portion thereof, from an employee, without any authority of law, without taking his
consent, cannot be termed as donation. The same amounts to illegal deduction.
The country is passing through an unprecedented crisis. It is desirable that citizens come forward voluntarily to help the needy. Providing help, certainly, does not mean, snatching away the legal right of an employee. To donate is a benevolent act. It comes from the free will of the donor. It is not to be obtained by force or coercion. The University can always adopt ways and means to provide relief to those in need. It is not necessary that force has to be applied to reach the goal. Applying force is sharply contrary to the Rabindrik culture and tradition which gurudev symbolizes. Petition partly allowed.
Tags : SALARY DEDUCTION VALIDITY