The Supreme Court has directed the State Government of Assam to file its reply within a period of 10 days on a plea seeking payment of wages and ration to the Tea Garden workers.
The bench comprising Chief Justice SA Bobde, Justice Indu Malhotra and Justice Hrishikesh Roy was hearing an application filed by Assam Sangrami Chah Sramik Sangha, is a registered trade union of Assam.
The applicant has sought directions to the State of Assam to ensure that workers in all the tea gardens in the State of Assam are paid wages and ration immediately including for the period of lockdown and strict implementation of the order dated 29.03.2020 issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs, directing payment of wages to all the migrant workers.
The bench while hearing the submissions of Senior Counsel Colin Gonsalves appearing for the applicant said that in normal circumstances the Court does not interferes in matters of these kind but Assam Tea Gardens having a history, the bench was bound to do so.
Gonsalves submitted that since the time lockdown was declared the applicant is being approached by several tea garden workers regarding non-payment of wages and ration in different tea gardens in Assam. Also there are about 10 lakh Tea Garden Workers in the State of Assam who have not been paid any wages for the period during which the tea estates have been under closure due to the lockdown.
The applicant has also highlighted the plight of the workers in the tea gardens who are in dire circumstances and facing extreme poverty. The earlier reports from the tea gardens suggest that many workers died due to starvation as they were not paid wages.
The applicant has contended that the order of the Supreme Court of April 4, 2018 in the case of International Union of Food Agricuture & Ors. V. Union of India where the Court had directed the State of Assam to disburse Rs.99 Crores for payment of wages to the Tea garden workers has not been implemented.
-India Legal Bureau