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The Odisha government on Wednesday informed the Supreme Court that it has increased the duty call-up allowance (DCA) for home guard jawans from Rs 300 per day to Rs 416 per day, a hike of over 38 per cent. The apex court had in May this year expressed displeasure over the low salary of home guards in Odisha and directed the state to reconsider its decision of paying them Rs 9,000 per month (Rs 300 per day), saying this monthly salary was “nothing but an exploitation”.

The state government on Wednesday told a bench of Justices M R Shah and M M Sundresh that in pursuance of the May order, the state had constituted a high-power committee under the chairmanship of the chief secretary which decided to increase the DCA by 38 per cent.

“After a detailed discussion, it was decided to give DCA, equivalent to the wages being paid to the skilled workers at Rs 416 per day, which is 38 per cent increase over the existing DCA of Rs 300 paid to the Home Guards,” the state said in its additional affidavit filed in the court.

It said the rate will be enhanced as per the variable DA (dearness allowance) concurrent with the rise in the consumer price index (CPI) as notified by the Labour Commissioner, Odisha.

The additional affidavit, filed in August, said in order to decide the issue of giving enhanced DCA to the Home Guards of Odisha, the DCA being paid by other states, which varies from minimum Rs 300 per day to maximum of Rs 1,171 per day, be also considered.

Advocate Sibo Sankar Mishra, appearing for Odisha, said it is a pan-India issue and the apex court may consider issuing notices to all states.

He said the state has increased the DCA by 38 per cent.

“You have to consider the duties which they are performing. They are home guards. They are protecting lives of others,” the bench orally observed, adding that except investigation part, the home guards are doing other police works.

The top court, which was hearing pleas against a verdict of the Orissa High Court directing the state to make payment at the rate of Rs 533 per day to the Home Guards from January 2020 instead of November 10, 2016, reserved its judgement in the matter.

During the hearing, the counsel appearing for one of the petitioners, told the bench that contractual constables are being paid Rs 450 per day in Odisha.

“You cannot compare yourself with contractual constables or regular police,” the bench said, adding, “We will pass appropriate orders”.

In the document annexed with the additional affidavit, the state has given details of the financial implication if the Home Guards are paid DCA of Rs 533.

It said present strength of Home Guards is 16,236 and if DCA of Rs 533 is paid for 365 days, the total amount would come to above Rs 315 crore.

It also annexed the list of DCA of Home Guards of other states as per which Gujarat and Jammu and Kashmir pay them DCA of Rs 300 per day, while Assam pays Rs 300 per day for basic course trained Home Guards and Rs 315 per day for advance course trained Home Guards.

As per the list, Chandigarh pays the highest DCA of 1,171 per day while in Delhi, DCA of Rs 742 per day is paid.

In its May 12 this year order, the apex court had noted that it was not in dispute that home guards in Odisha are being paid only Rs 9,000 per month.

It had also noted that many of the home guards were working for over 15 years and other police personnel in the state were getting approximately Rs 21,700 along with dearness allowance as per the recommendations made by the Seventh Pay Commission (after six years of their contractual appointment).

“To pay Rs 9,000 per month is nothing but an exploitation. How a Home Guard personnel can survive and maintain his family members on payment of Rs 9,000 per month only when he is performing almost the same/similar duties which is performed by other police personnel,” the top court had said.

It had directed the state to reconsider its earlier decision of paying Rs 9,000 per month to the Home Guards.

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