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Judiciary

"Charity begins at home": Delhi HC directs Sikh Gurudwara Committee to pay salaries & arrears of its 12 schools' staff

By Shreya Agarwal      28 February, 2024 07:24 PM      0 Comments
Charity begins at home Delhi HC directs Sikh Gurudwara Committee to pay salaries and arrears of its 12 schools staff

NEW DELHI: Reminding the Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Management Committee (DSGMC) that “charity begins at home”, the Delhi High Court has directed for all rent amounts received by the Committee and the Guru Harkrishan Public School (New Delhi) Society to be attached and utilised for clearing the arrears and salaries owed to the staff of 12 schools managed by the Society.

The Court issued a slew of directions in the matter, including holding President Harmeet Singh Kalka and General Secretary Jagdeep Singh Khalon of DSGMC guilty of contempt of court for failing to pay the salaries and arrears of the staff in accordance with the sixth and seventh Central Pay Commissions (CPC) recommendations.

The single judge bench of Justice Navin Chawla also issued show cause notice to the previous management committees of the DSGMC on the issue of quantum of punishment, and directed for the salaries and financial benefits of all the members of the Society and the Committee to be withheld till further orders or till clearance of all dues of the schools’ staff.

“There is no point of such philanthropic activities and values when its own teachers and staff of the schools, who are helping to lay down the foundation of a good and progressive society by imparting education and instilling moral values to young students and helping in running the said institutions, are ill-treated and not given their rightful dues, on the other hand are rather made to suffer the agony of approaching this Court repeatedly for the same,” the Court observed.

It added that “amongst other philanthropic activities that DSGMC claims to be conducting,” it cannot neglect its duty to discharge the dues of the employees, including the teachers of the GHPS (ND) Society and its schools.

The Court held that such duty “shall be primary in nature” and its fulfilment shall be prioritized over its other activities, such that “even if they are needed to be reduced or stopped, it shall be so reduced or stopped… to provide requisite funds to the GHPS(ND) Society and the schools to pay the dues, including arrears and interest”.

The Court was hearing a batch of petitions by the staff of the 12 schools alleging contempt of the High Court’s order of November 16, 2021 directing the Society and the Committee to adhere to recommendations of the pay commissions.

Referring to the “financial incapacity” of the Society and the Committee to clear the arrears and pay even the current dues, the Court concluded that “there is gross mis-management of the affairs of the schools, GHPS (ND) Society, and to some extent, even of the DSGMC”.

It added that Kalka and Khalon are not worthy of their posts, but added that before any order for their removal, a forensic audit of the Society and the 12 schools run by it must be done for the period from April 2020 to December 2023.

It, therefore, ordered the audit of the society and directed the auditor to submit the first audit report by July 31, 2024.

The Court also rejected the contention that the DSGMC is not responsible for clearing the dues of the school staff.

“There is also an all pervasive control of the DSGMC on the functioning of the schools. DSGMC, therefore, cannot claim any immunity or claim that they are not bound to comply with the judgment dated 16.11.2021 of this Court or be bound by their undertaking. The said judgment has been accepted by DSGMC and has attained finality and it is too late in the date to now contend to the contrary,” the Court said.

Sr. Adv. Mohit Mathur along with Advocates JS Bedi, Kuljeet Singh, Amanpreet Singh Bhalla, Ankit Singh Sinsinwar, Nikhilesh Kumar, Chetan Anand, Akash Srivastava, Tejaswini Singh, Sumeet Kaur, Atul Kumar, Abhimanyu Sharma, Mangesh Naik, Ajay Kapur, Charanpreet Singh, Sonali Arora, Kartik Malhotra, Darsh Bansal and Parminder Singh Goindi appeared for the teaching staff.

Delhi Singh Gurdwara Management Committee was represented by Sr. Advocates IS Alag and Kirti Uppal as well as Advocates Avneet Kaur, Abhinash K Mishra and Gaurav Kr Pandey.

Cause Title: Mrs Tejinder Pal Gujral v S Manjinder Singh Sirsa & Ors



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