TT, Calcutta, July 11: Calcutta High Court today issued an order stopping the salary of a Hooghly college principal for not obeying a directive asking her to disburse the retirement benefits of a hostel cook who retired two years ago.
“The salary of the principal cannot be disbursed until the petitioner (the cook) gets her retirements benefits, including the due pension amount,” Justice Debangshu Basak said in his order.
The judge directed the Hooghly Women’s College authorities to file within three weeks an affidavit saying what steps they had taken to clear the dues of the petitioner.
Saraswati Karmakar, 62, retired on April 28, 2014, after serving as a cook in the college hostel for 30 years.
Contacted, Saraswati told this paper: “The college authorities did not take any step to clear my dues, which included the pension. I have been passing through tough times. I approached the college authorities on several occasions, particularly the principal. But I got no result.”
Saraswati moved the high court early this year.
After hearing her plea, Justice Basak had issued an order directing the principal, Sima Banerjee, to take “all possible steps” to ensure Saraswati got her pension and other benefits.
“But even after the high court’s order, the situation remained unchanged. I repeatedly approached the college authorities but my dues weren’t cleared. This prompted me to file a contempt case against the college authorities,” Saraswati said.
Pramit Dey, the lawyer appearing for Saraswati, said the dues amounted to around Rs 1.7 lakh, including a pension of Rs 3,000 a month.
Today, when Dey told the court that no step had been taken by the college despite an earlier order, the judge said: “The college authorities, particularly the principal, must obey the court’s order. The petitioner should get her dues. The principal should realise the problem of the petitioner.”
Justice Basak then issued the order.
Asked about the delay in releasing the retirement benefits to Saraswati, principal Banerjee said: “The papers relating to her retirement benefits were today submitted to the pension section of the DPI (directorate of public instruction) office at Bikash Bhavan. We had sent the necessary receipts to our lawyer at the high court. But the order was passed by then.”
The Supreme Court had earlier issued a ruling asking all courts to take “seriously” cases that were moved by elderly persons, especially those regarding their dues.
The apex court had also said that the courts should attend to such cases at the earliest and take steps so that the petitioners get relief.
Advocate Sailendu Rakshit said: “Such orders have proved very effective. Whenever the salary of a department or institution head is stopped, the court orders are obeyed without further delay.”