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SUBSISTENCE ALLOWANCE: THE LEGAL FRAMEWORK

INTRODUCTION

Despite having a robust body of law on the effect of suspension of a Government Servant and the subsistence allowance payable thereof, the bureaucratic whim, on many a time prevail over, causing irreparable hardship to the employees under suspension. A case in example is the plight of Mr. Elango,[1] a secretary of a Primary Agricultural Cooperative credit society, in Tamil Nadu, who by definition was public servant. He was placed under suspension and the subsistence allowance was not allowed. When he preferred a writ petition to the Hon’ble High Court of Madras, his petition was allowed. But the state authorities appealed against the order of the Single judge and a division bench decided the matter on 10th February 2020 that stopping subsistence allowance is a violation of right to life of the employee. The case of Mr. Elango shows, the state fought tooth and nail in the court of law to deprive its employee of the minimum subsistence during period of suspension. It is very pertinent to mention that, there are scores of decisions which say suspension is not punishment. However, stopping the subsistence allowance, on some pretext other, during the period of suspension is akin to inflict punishment without the guilt being established conclusively. To quote Hon’ble Madras High Court in the case of Mr. Elagno,

A total denial of subsistence allowance to a suspended employee, in our opinion, would be violative of Article 21 of the Constitution of India, unless it can be shown that payment of subsistence allowance is not warranted on the facts of a particular case[2]

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