The Kerala High Court recently observed that the pensioners should not be forced to make contribution to the Chief Minister’s Distress Relief Fund (CMDRF) as part of vaccine challenge unless they have given written consent for such deduction.
The Court was hearing a petition filed by two retired Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB) employees and pensioners challenged the deduction from their pension amount as part of vaccine challenge. The petitioner demanded a refund as they had neither agreed to any contribution nor had given any consent/permission for the same.
The bench of Justice Devan Ramachandran observed, “any contribution to the Chief Minister’s Relief Fund or such other can be effected only with full volition of the contributor and cannot be a matter of compulsion or forced compliance, unless there is a valid law which sanctions such. The KSEB or the State have no case-even whisperingly – that the petitioners or other employees-serving or retired-are under any legally sanctioned obligation to suffer any remittance under the “Vaccine Challenge”.
However, the KSEB circular, nevertheless, mandated that certain deductions would be made from the pension of retired employees towards the relief fund, but without conceding to any provision for such deduction being done only with the prior consent of the retirees,” the court said.
The court also directed the KSEB to refund the amounts deducted from the pension of the petitioners within two weeks.