The Delhi government on Wednesday told the Supreme Court it would release Rs 500 crore within two days to civic bodies, which will help resolve crisis that has arisen due to the ongoing strike by sanitation workers of East Delhi Municipal Corporation over regular payment of salaries and regularisation of workers.
A bench comprising Justices Madan B Lokur, S Abdul Nazeer and Deepak Gupta asked Additional Solicitor General (ASG) Maninder Singh, appearing for the Centre and Delhi Lieutenant Governor, as to whether they could also release similar amount to "tide over the present crisis".
The bench made it clear that the offer by the Delhi government to release the amount, and if the Central government or the Delhi Lieutenant Governor also make a similar offer, would be without any prejudice to the rights and contentions of either of the parties.
"It is common knowledge that sanitation workers are abstaining from work in East Delhi. As a result of this, there is a huge amount of garbage that has piled up. There are, of course, differences on how the issue is to be tackled. The Lieutenant Governor has one point of view but the Delhi Government has a different point of view," the bench said.
During the hearing, the bench told advocate Rahul Mehra, appearing for Delhi government, to take instructions in the matter as to whether they could release some amount to resolve the issue.
After taking instructions, Mr Mehra told the bench that they would release Rs 500 crore without prejudice to their rights and contentions in the matters relating to any disputes and differences between them and the Centre or the Lieutenant Governor.
The lawyers appearing for the South Delhi Municipal Corporation and North Delhi Municipal Corporation told the bench that they should also get money which was to be released by Delhi government.
"The proportion in which the amount is to be released and to whom it is to be released will be decided by the Delhi Government. It is made clear that this offer has been made without prejudice to the rights and contentions of the Delhi Government," the bench noted in its order.
During the hearing, Mr Mehra told the bench that in 2016-17, Delhi government had given over Rs 1.08 lakh crore to the Centre while the Central government had given only Rs 325 crore to them.
The ASG told the court that Delhi High Court had already passed directions in the matter related to payment of salaries of sanitation workers of the civic bodies but the Delhi government had not complied with it.
He said that Delhi government had come to the top court against the high court's directions but no stay was granted by the top court.
"He (Mehra) is suggesting and it is only a request that the Centre or Lieutenant Governor can also consider releasing Rs 500 crore so that at least the present crisis is over. The legal battle will take time. It is only a suggestion," the bench told the ASG.
The ASG said that he would raise this issue before the concerned authorities and get back to the court on this.
The bench has posted the matter for hearing on October 8.
The ASG told the bench that a Constitution bench of the apex court has already held that Delhi is a union territory and not a state and the other issues were being dealt with by another bench of the top court.
At the fag end of hearing, the counsel appearing for East Delhi Municipal Corporation told the bench that some direction should be given to the sanitation workers who are on strike since September 12.
"Delhi government has volunteered to give Rs 500 crore. How much is to be given to EDMC, SDMC or North DMC, they will decide it," the bench said, adding that the issue of strike was to be dealt with by the Delhi government, the Centre or the Lieutenant Governor.
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