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Quash Govt Order To Pay Full Salary During Lockdown: Ludhiana Hand Tools Association To SC

A Writ Petition has been filed at Supreme Court challenging the validity and vires of Section l0(2)(1) of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 and seeking appropriate writ for setting aside or quashing of Government Order dated 29.03.2020 issued by Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India, under Section l0(2)(1) of the Disaster Management Act,2005, only to limited extent wherein private establishments are directed to pay full salaries to all workers/employees, contract or casual workers during period of COVID-19 lockdown.

It was urged that Petition filed by Rajeev M. Roy Advocate will have serious financial repercussions on Petitioner, Ludhiana Hand Tools Association as failure to comply with Government orders will result in Petitioner to face action as contemplated in Disaster Management Act, 2005.

Petitioner has filed  petition urgently as all its members are directly affected by impugned Government Order dated 29.03.2020. Ministry of Labour and Employment issued advisory on 30.03.2020 to all Regional Labour Commissioners that all employees maybe deemed to be on duty in case place of employment is made non-operational due to COVID-19. All private and public enterprises were advised not to terminate employees from jobs. Ministry of Corporate Affairs has also clarified that payment of salary to employees during lockdown period is moral obligation of employers.

Press release was issued by Punjab Government stating that Punjab CM addressed letter to PM seeking reconsideration of Government Order directing payment of full wages to workers as it will lead to bankruptcy of such organisations as operations of these establishments have completely stopped due to lockdown. 

During this unprecedented situation of COVID-I9, various governments of different countries across the globe are taking measures for the workers/employees, Government of India has not taken any steps for the workforce and instead put entire burden on the employers/owners to pay full wages.

Petitioner states that Government Order violates Articles 14, 19(1)(g), 265 and 300-A of Constitution for being Unconstitutional.

Petitioner has alleged that during this unprecedented situation of COVID-19, various governments of different countries across the globe are taking measures for the workers/employees, Government of India has not taken any steps for the workforce and instead put entire burden on the employers/owners to pay full wages.

Petitioner also states that hundreds of Crores of unclaimed provident fund and Employees State Insurance Corporation contribution lies in banks attracting interest and Government of India is enjoying benefit out it, instead of using this towards welfare of employees.

Central Government lacks legislative competence to direct private establishments to pay full wages to their workforce. 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. The employer has a right to not pay if no work is done. There is an obligation to pay when work is actually done.

-India Legal Bureau

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