First the Government of Kerala State, followed by the Union of India started reducing the salary of their respective Government employees in the background of COVID – 19 pandemic spread all over the world. I do not want to comment it from the point of morality etc. I am only expressing my thought with respect to the fact that whether the Central or State Government is legally and constitutionally authorized it or is it purely an illegal act being not a donation?
In general context, withholding or freezing the salary is an act of punishment under the civil service rules. For that there are rules and regulations. Without following these rules, no government can reduce the salary particularly when it is permanent in nature. It is also not deducted either as a donation or as a deposit, with the consent of the employee. Therefore, the action of the Government has no legal standing.
But there is a provision in the Constitution of India, that is, when there is a Financial Emergency is declared and is in force. Under the provisions of Article 360 of the Constitution of India, when there is a declaration of the Financial Emergency, the Central Government can reduce the salary that too following the procedures prescribed therein. In that situation it can also authorize the State Governments to do so. But now the situation is different. There is no Financial Emergency declared now.
In this circumstance, it is better for the Governments to go for voluntary donations instead of going for compulsory freezing or withholding part of the salary or to declare Financial Emergency if the conditions can be fulfilled.
M.P. JOSEPH. (My home page:- www.manjaly.net)
My published books: 1. A FRAUD IN THE INDIAN CONSTITION (E-book & Paperback)
2. LTC RULES MADE EASY (E-book)