Upholding the order of the State Administrative Tribunal (SAT), the High Court in Calcutta on Friday ordered the West Bengal government to release the dearness allowance (DA) and related arrears of its employees.

A bench of judges Harish Tandon and Rabindranath Samanta said the allowance would be released within three months.

The order stated: “The petitioner is requested to release the dearness allowance and DA arrears to his employees at the rate to be calculated on the basis of the all India Consumer Price Index average of 536 (1982 = 100) based on their salary according to the ROPA Rules, 2009, as directed by the Court.

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The court also said that obtaining the AD is a legally enforceable right of state government employees. “This right of employees to support themselves with dignity has been embodied or elevated as a fundamental right enshrined in Section 21 of the Constitution,” the decision noted.

The division bench further rejected the state government’s argument that it does not have the financial capacity to pay the DA due. The court also rejected the government’s policy of granting DA to employees assigned to different locations.

The state government, however, is considering moving the Supreme Court to challenge the bench order. Apprehending the same, the petitioner on behalf of the state government employees also decided to file a warning in the Supreme Court.

Secretary General of the State Government Employees Organization, Malay Mukhopadhyay, said, “The State Government Employees Confederation affiliated to INTUC, a Congressional trade organization, has been fighting for years in government name of state employees. It’s a big win for us. For years, the state government refused to respond to our legitimate request.

Opposition parties have also criticized the state government over its stance on DA. BJP leader Samik Bhattacharya said, “It is obvious that the state government has to pay the AD of the state government employees. But this government was not doing that.

CPIM chief Sujan Chakraborty said: “Government can spend money on many unnecessary things but cannot meet a legitimate demand from employees.

Ruling Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Joyprakash Majumder said the state government had no funds to pay the AD because the Center was not repaying the state’s due of Rs 92 000 crore rupees. If the Center pays the dues, the state government has no problem meeting the demand of its employees.