This appeal has been filed before the Honorable Supreme Court pursuing to the writ petition filed by the petitioner (company) pursuing to Article 32 of the Constitution of India. This petition has been filed by various employers pursuing to the order of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 regarding wages of employees by the various institution and shops and other establishments in a period of lockdown. The petitioner in the above argument is a company incorporated under the Companies Act and is engaged in the business of packaging with other business entities. The petitioner in here has huge expanded business with eleven factories that spread across seven states.
The petitioner is also registered as the Medium Industry under the Micro, Small and Medium Industry Development Act, 2006 and due to the growth of the company, petitioner has 176 permanent employees and 939 employees and workers but such employees were all under the work contract. Though the facts of the cases seems that the employers in here is not of the business due to its other sectors such pharmaceuticals and other essential products which still has the non-elastic demand amid the lockdown but the contention were made by the petitioner that business has reduced literally to the volume of 5-6% of the total business before lockdown. The order by notification dated 29th March, 2020 regarding payment of full wages to the labourer and no deduction will be permitted from the government side to the employer. The contention made that this decision was arbitrary and illegal in its very nature and practice.
The petitioner filing this writ petition that the order passed is in violation of Article 14 and Article 19(1) (g) of the Constitution of India. The petitioner pursuing to the principle “equal pay for equal work” and “no pay for no work” states that this order is in violation of this principles and also further stating the petitioner mentioned that this order does not distinguish the employees working in this lockdown situation and their efforts. The petition has submission that clearly states that there are funds made in this behalf by the government for providing the relief, rehabilitation and various measures to protect the interest of the employees and workers and so the government cannot push the burden from its shoulders to the PE for carrying out such responsibilities.
- Should the government be liable to pay the worker amid lockdown?
- Whether the order passed by the government pursuing to the Disaster Management Act, 2005 is valid?
The Honorable Supreme Court after hearing the learned counsels representing both the parties in the matter above and considering the facts and the precedents submitted established by the Honorable Judges to support the prayers and pleadings of the parties in the matter above states its observation herein that it is by far will do right the consequences that would have been in the way for all the private establishments. The Court considering the contentions made by the learned counsel in the writ petition filed before this court that such notification are baseless and made with the sole purpose to support the plan intended to fulfil the objective, it was completely arbitrary in nature and such autocratic decision is in complete violation of the Article 14 and Article 19(1)(g) and so it should be allowed to stand such petition in the above matter should be explained in the following manner.
So, the order by the government pursuing to the Disaster Management Act, 2005 and vide notification dated 29.03.2020 will be set aside as per the revised order of this court dated 17.05.2020 and this order will have its effect from 18.05.2020. This order further explains that there will be no obligation with regards to the payment of wages to the employees and workers amid the lockdown and also includes any reduction which was considered illegal will not be in force from this date in prospect. Though the question raised in this petition regarding the order is ultra vires of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 and other claims about the violation of Article 14 and Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution of India is yet to be clarified and no opinions have yet be formed by this court regarding the matter. This court is of the view that until the opportunity for the filing a counter-affidavit to Union of India is not provided regarding the order passed on 29.03.2020 on the subject of wages amid lockdown and there is no explanation provided regarding the traces relating to the provision 10(1) and 10(2)(1) of the Disaster Management Act regarding being ultra vires has been proven or nor there is any explanation from the Union of India.
This court is of the opinion to reach the conclusion without such opportunity will be a half justice which is not warranted by this court, the court respects the plea filed by the Union of India for submission of the counter affidavit after which this matter will again be listed for a hearing in the last week of July, 2020. The court states that as in the difficult situation like this it is vital important that both the employers and employees work in harmony by way of mutual discussion for work ad consideration in meanwhile the court suggest government to publish and produce an order that will well be in favour of the employers and there should not be any undue harsh consequences they should face due to such order. The Court states that if there is any arrangement which has settled the issues between the workers and employers by such mutual discussions such needs to be filed before this court by way of an affidavit in the next hearing.
Case No.: WP 10983 of 2020
Date: 12th June, 2020