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Kerala HC bars KSEB from deducting money for the relief fund from pensioners

KC Gopakumar Kochi | Updated on July 13, 2021

The court directed the KSEB to refund the amount deducted to the petitioners within two weeks

The Kerala High Court has ordered that no amount shall be deducted from the pension of the retired Kerala State Electricity Board employees towards the Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund under “Vaccine Challenge” unless they give consent for the same in writing.

Justice Devan Ramachandran made a declaration to the effect on Tuesday while allowing a writ petition by two retired KSEB employees — Rajan EG (73) and M Kesavan Nair (71) from Thiruvananthapuram — challenging the deduction of a portion of their pension towards the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund under the “Vaccine Challenge” without their consent.

The court observed that normally, any contribution to the CMDRF or such other funds could be effected only with full volition of the contributor and could not be a matter of compulsion or forced compliance unless there was a valid law which sanctions such deduction. The KSEB or the State had no case – even whisperingly – that the petitioners or other employees – serving or retired – were “under any legally sanctioned obligation to suffer any remittance under the “Vaccine challenge”. However, the KSEB circular, nevertheless mandated that certain deductions would be made from the pension of the retired employees towards the Relief Fund, “but without conceding to any provision for such deduction being done only with the prior consent of the retirees”, the court added.

The petitioners contended that they had not agreed to pay any contribution under the “Vaccine Challenge”. They, therefore, sought to set aside the KSEB action in forcibly deducting a certain amount from their pension and its remittance into the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund.

When the petition came up for hearing, the circular was issued solely on the basis of the specific agreement of the association of pensioners, that their members were willing to contribute one day’s pension to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund under the “Vaccine Challenge.

The court also directed the KSEB to refund the amount deducted from the pension of the petitioners within two weeks.

Published on July 13, 2021

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