Seventeen disengaged research fellows of the Delhi Legislative Assembly moved the Delhi High Court Thursday seeking restoration of an earlier order directing continuation of their services and payment of stipend for the period they had worked.
On September 21, Justice Subramonium Prasad, in an interim order directed that the services of the fellows should not be discontinued and stipend be paid to them till December 6.
The HC lifted the stay on their disengagement on October 3, noting that the issue was specifically argued before the Supreme Court, in a plea challenging the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Ordinance, 2023, with regard to control over services in Delhi.
The HC had then said that SC had declined to stay the termination and propriety demanded that the HC ought not have passed the interim order. “Today the SC clarified that this issue was not considered. In that scenario the interim order should be reinstated,” advocate Gautam Narayan appearing for the fellows argued on Thursday before Justice Prasad.
He said that the stipend for the fellows had not been released with respect to the two months they had worked, before their services were terminated on August 9. The fellows are entitled to the payment because the order cannot be made retrospective, he added. “This is an extremely fair submission,” said Justice Prasad, seeking the stand of the respondent authorities — the Legislative Assembly Secretariat, Finance Department and Services Department, asking their counsels to seek instructions. The matter is next listed on November 6.
The HC was hearing an application for directions in a pending matter against an August 9 order of the Delhi Assembly Secretariat disengaging services of fellows to the Delhi Assembly Research Centre (DARC) programme at the legislative assembly.
In its September 21 order, the HC had said that the July 5 letter by which the Lieutenant Governor had disengaged the Fellows/Associate Fellows of the DARC was “specifically challenged” by the Delhi government before the Supreme Court in an application filed in the services ordinance matter.
The fellows in their plea had stated that the July 5 letter of the Services department directed that their engagement, for which prior approval of the L-G had not been sought, be discontinued and disbursement of salary to them stopped. The fellows got to know that the Finance department had issued a letter on July 6 directing that the salaries of the fellows be stopped. Thereafter, even though the order was kept in abeyance, the fellows had not been paid their stipends for June, July, and until August 9, when the secretariat discontinued their engagement with immediate effect, it added.