Kochi | The Kerala High Court has come to the aid of thousands of Authorised Retail Distributors (ARD) by directing the state government to pay them commission for the food kits they distributed to citizens during COVID-19 pandemic and 'onam season'.
The ARDs had distributed the food kits on the orders of the government which had promised them commission as specified rates, but later denied them the same, they claimed in their pleas.
The state government contended that similarly placed ARDs had earlier moved the High Court for payment of the commission and a division bench while ruling in their favour had said that it would be applicable only to the petitioners before it at that time.
The argument of the state government was rejected by Justice Devan Ramachandran who said that the contention was "wholly farfetched in part and incredulous".
The court said that the division bench had laid down the law in the earlier matter and therefore, it would be applicable to the present batch of pleas also.
The court further said that in the earlier petitions, the division bench had ruled that the service provided by the ARDs was not "free service" as claimed by the government and therefore, they were entitled to the commission.
"Resultantly, I allow these writ petitions and direct the competent authority of the government to disburse the arrears of commission, if any, as entitled to the petitioners for the distribution of 'COVID-19 Free Food Kits' and 'Onam Kits', at the rates specified within a period of four months from the date of receipt of a copy of this judgment," Justice Ramachandran said in his order of January 18.
The court said it was giving the government four months time on the request of the special government pleader, "who cited fiscal constraints for the state at this point of time".