Ludhiana Hand Tools Association moves SC against GOI orders to pay full wages to workers amid lockdown
The petition has been filed by advocate Rajeev M Roy on behalf of 41 members of the association, including various sole proprietorship firms, partnership firms and private limited companies, engaged in manufacturing and distribution of hand toolsUpdated: Apr 23, 2020 22:22 IST
The Ludhiana Hand Tools Association has moved the Supreme Court against direction issued by the central government to pay full wages to workers amid lockdown.
The petition has been filed challenging the validity of Section 10(2)(l) of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, and for setting aside clause (iii) of order issued by the ministry of home affairs under this section on March 29,2020. The order directs all the employers to pay full wages to its workers, without any deduction, during the lockdown period.
The association alleged that the orders issued by the Union government also violates Articles 14 (equality before law),19 (freedom of expression) and 300A (persons not to be deprived of property save by authority of law) of the Indian Constitution and the Industrial Disputes Act, 1948.
The petition has been filed by advocate Rajeev M Roy on behalf of 41 members of the association, including various sole proprietorship firms, partnership firms and private limited companies, engaged in manufacturing and distribution of hand tools.
President of the association, Subhash Chander Ralhan, said that with this petition, the association has contended that the Disaster Management Act, 2005, does not empower the Government of India to direct the private establishments to pay full wages to its workers during the lockdown. The government orders violates Article 14,19 and 300A of the Constitution of India and it is also in violation of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1948, which provides for payment of 50% wages under natural calamity, he said.
Ralhan said that the Union government had issued the order in undue haste and without considering financial ability of private establishments to bear the burden of full wages during this period of crisis.
The petition further contended that hundreds of crores of unclaimed provident fund and Employees State Insurance Corporation contribution is lying in banks attracting interest and union government is enjoying benefit out of it. Instead of using this contribution of the industry towards the welfare of workers/employees, the direction to private establishments to pay full wages by the Government of India is completely arbitrary and unreasonable.
Ralhan said that the government order does not provide any clarification in respect of its applicability to workman class or to all employees of all private establishments, otherwise this will have grave financial implications on all private establishments.
Further, the association has sought a declaration from the court that Section 10(2)(l) of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, in the event it confers power on the Central Government to direct private establishments to make full payments of wages to the employees during the lock-down period, as being illegal, arbitrary and violative of articles 14, 19(1)(g), 265 and 300A of the Constitution. In the alternative, it is sought by the association that the court should hold that Section 10(2)(I) of the Disaster Management Act, 2005, does not empower the central or state government or any authority to direct the private establishments to pay full wages during the period of lock-down.
Earlier also different industrial organisations, including the Federation of Industrial and Commercial Organisation (FICO) and All Industries and Trade Forum had raised hue and cry over the orders issued by the government claiming that they are not in condition to pay wages due to lockdown, but they will take care of labourers in these times.