The Delhi High Court has directed that all its employees will be paid an equal amount of clothing and dress maintenance allowance, saying there is no justification for discrimination. The court's verdict came on a petition by several employees of the high court, aggrieved by disparities in grant of clothing and dress maintenance allowance, also called 'washing allowance'.
A bench of Justices S Muralidhar and Talwant Singh rejected the explanation given by the counsel representing the high court that officials directly assisting judges inside courts "are required to maintain decorum and discipline of the court by wearing the prescribed uniform".
"The court fails to understand how only the staff serving inside courts is required to maintain decorum, while those working in the Registry are not. In fact, every employee of the high court should be required to maintain decorum of the court, both inside and outside the court halls/complex.
"In the entire high court complex, each staff member projects the image of the court and has to be mindful of his/her conduct," the bench said.
The bench directed that "with effect from the date of the last revision for the category to which the petitioners (employees) belong, that is, May 8, 2019, the petitioners and others belonging to their category will be paid the same clothing and washing allowances as employees falling under Category-I... The arrears as a result thereof will be paid within eight weeks from today (November 29)."
It added that all staff members assist judges, whether inside or outside the court, and their services are indeed indispensable for proper functioning of the court. In their petition, the court employees had submitted that there was discrimination in grant of allowance for uniform and washing clothes on the basis of their designation.
They had said there are no guidelines/criteria governing the allocation of such amounts and there is no transparency in the process of prescribing uniforms to employees of the court.