The Bombay High Court on Wednesday directed the City Industrial Development Corporation of Maharashtra (CIDCO) to pay its workmen their unpaid wages up to April, 2020 on or before 18th of May and also issue face masks, hand gloves, sanitizers /soap and replenish the same from time to time.
The writ petition was filed by the Petitioner “Maharashtra Kamgar Sanghatana” on behalf of its members /workmen, who since the last several years are working as Gardeners or ‘Malis’ for the City Industrial Development Corporation (‘CIDCO’), and the case was heard by the single judge bench of Bombay High Court Consisting of Justice S.J. Kathawalia.
The petitioners sought directions from the High Court against CIDCO, to immediately pay the labourers their wages which are outstanding from January-2020 at the rate payable to the permanent workers in the unskilled category, along with interest at commercial rate and to also provide essential service ID Cards so as to enable them to reach their workplace without facing any difficulties, and also provide them with masks and gloves to protect themselves whilst they are outdoors.
The petitioner’s counsel said that CIDCO has not only failed to extend all benefits of permanency with effect from 1st December, 2012 to the concerned workmen, but has also deprived the concerned workmen of their earned wages since January, 2020. Therefore, despite the Court orders being in the favour of concerned workmen and despite them having continued to work during the pandemic Covid-19, CIDCO compelled the concerned workmen to survive on charity i.e. the ration provided by NGOs and social workers.
Counsel for CIDCO said that some payments were made by CIDCO on 30th April, 2020 to the concerned workmen for the month of January, 2020 and instructions have been issued by CIDCO to the Contractor to pay the concerned workmen up to April, 2020, and thereafter for the subsequent months.
Acting upon the plea the High Court observed that none of the submissions advanced by CIDCO justify the inhuman and callous conduct of non-payment of the earned wages since January, 2020, to the concerned workers.
Making the concerned workmen work even during the pandemic and thereafter not paying them their earned wages for months, thereby compelling them to extend their hands before NGOs and social workers for ration to feed themselves and the members of their families is certainly a very inhuman act on the part of CIDCO, which deserves severe condemnation.
Thus, the High Court directed CIDCO to pay the concerned workmen their unpaid earned wages up to April, 2020 as per their entitlement under the Award dated 13th January,2018, on or before 18th May, 2020, and thereafter continue to pay such earned wages on or before the 5th day of each successive month and also, CIDCO will on or before 18th May, 2020 issue essential service ID Cards to the concerned workmen along with face masks, hand gloves, sanitizers /soap, if not provided so far, and replace / replenish the same from time to time.
The High Court has listed the case for further hearing on 1st of June, 2020.
-India Legal Bureau