SC asks Centre on implementation of full wage notification by MHA

The Supreme Court has asked the centre to put on record the implementation of its policy with regard to the notification issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs(MHA) that has issued private companies/ firms to pay full salaries/wages to their employees and workers during  COVID-19 lockdown.

A three-judge bench of Justice NV Ramana, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice BR Gavai has granted two weeks time to centre to file its response on a batch of writ petitions filed by a private organisation, Nagreeka Exports Limited, Karnataka based packaging company, Ficus Pax Private Ltd, and Ludhiana Hand Tools Association to set aside orders from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) and Maharashtra Government that full wages be paid to workers during the lockdown.

The petitioners who had challenged the validity of notification of MHA dated March 29 i.e to make sure that no employee/worker is terminated and they were paid full salaries and wages. The validity of MHA order passed under the Disaster Management Act, 2005 violates the fundamental right to carry on any occupation, trade, business guaranteed under Article 19(1)(g) of the Constitution.

It was further contended by the petitioners that the government itself hasn’t taken any steps rather has shifted its burden to the private companies also the petitioner added that an employer and employee have reciprocal promises whereby the right of an employee to demand salary is reciprocal to performance of work by such employee, adding that an employer has a right not to pay if no work is done.

Private employers should be completely exempted from paying their workmen during the lockdown as a one-sided implementation of contract alone was not permitted. The Disaster Management Act under which these notifications for payment of salaries were issued didn’t provide for continued payment of wages by employers to their employees and workers during any disaster, the companies, said, adding orders were beyond the scope of the Act.