CUTTACK: The Orissa High Court on Tuesday issued a stay order on the School and Mass Education Department’s notification to freeze the existing remuneration of employees of Odisha Primary Education Programme Authority (OPEPA).
The notification was issued on August 1, 2019 taking into consideration the increasing financial burden for the State Government due to a gradual decrease in Central funding. The sharing pattern of the Centre and the State since 2001-2002 had reduced from 85:15 to 60:40.
OPEPA was established in 1996 under the administrative control of School and Mass Education Department to implement different State and Central-sponsored schemes related to elementary education in Odisha.
The Single Judge Bench of Justice BR Sarangi issued the interim stay order on two petitions that challenged the August 1, 2019 notification. Four OPEPA employees filed the petition. The interim stay order will continue till September 11, the date fixed for next hearing on the matter.
According to the notification, OPEPA employees are presently drawing their remuneration as per Odisha Revised Scale of Pay Rules, 2008 as per office order issued on September 20, 2014 without the approval of the Government and concurrence of Finance Department.
“The administrative department will take necessary steps to review the remuneration structure vis-a-vis the Finance Department guidelines”, the notification said.
The notification stated that OPEPA employees are schematic employees but they are drawing gross remuneration at a higher rate due to the addition of certain perks, including dynamic DA structure twice a year, which is not extended to any State Government schematic employee.
The two petitions sought quashing of the notification to freeze their remuneration of OPEPA employees with effect from March 31, 2019 was illegal, arbitrary, in excess of power and not sustainable in the eye of law.
The petitions have sought direction for revision of salary of OPEPA employees by implementing the Seventh Pay Commission recommendations for them as already done for State Government employees.