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A PIL has been filed before the Supreme Court to protect the fundamental rights to health and livelihood guaranteed under Article 14 and Article 21 of the Constitution of India of over 7.6 crore active job card holders under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005.

Earlier also the Indian National Congress, Chairperson. Ms. Sonia Gandhi had expressed her concern to the Hon’ble Prime Minister by writing an official letter for the payment of wages of daily workers under MGNREGA during the current situation of lockdown in the nation.

The petitioners “Aruna Roy” and “Nikhil Dey” are both Social and Democratic activists from Rajasthan has filed a PIL under Article 32 of the Constitution of India and the respondents in their petition is “Union of India” and “National Disaster Management Authority” through Home Secretary, Chairman of National Executive Committee, Ministry of Home Affairs.

It was further stated in the petition that Ministry of Rural Development has violated the guidelines issued by the Central Government on 28th March, 2020 under the order of 24th March, 2020 which makes no exception for works performed under the MGNREGA Act by directing the State Governments to continue with MGNREGA works wherever possible by putting at risk health/lives of MGNREGA workers as it is not possible to ensure social/physical distancing in the nature of the works performed and also putting at risk the livelihood of MGNREGA workers as despite an increased demand and need for work, it is in fact not possible to keep any NREGA work open under lockdown conditions whereas the transport is available only for essential services and MGNREGA has not been listed as an essential service.

Lastly, the petitioner prayed that the uniform guidelines to be issued to all States/Union Territories by the respondents that for the entire duration of the lockdown at least all active and registered job card holders under the MGNREGA Act will be deemed to be at work even if they are absent from work and accordingly make full payment of their wages at the earliest. The petitioner concluded by putting reliance on the order passed by the Central Government on 29th March, 2020 whereby it has directed that all the employers shall make payment of wages of their workers on the due date without any deductions for the period their establishments are under closure during the lockdown

-India Legal Bureau

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