Advocate on record Nirmal Kumar Ambastha moved a petition in the Supreme Court. The petition sought directions to quash the notifications issued by the state of Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat; concerning the dilution of labour laws. The petition asserts that such dilution will detriment the poor workmen contributing to various economic activities in different parts of the country.
The petitioner submitted that several states have granted an exemption to the industrial units from the provisions of the labour laws; such as Section 5 of the Factories Act and Section 36-B of the Industrial Disputes Act. The way of execution orders grants an exemption to these provisions. Albeit these exemptions are granted to boost the economic activities which suffered due to COVID-19, but they are causing immense grievance to the workers.
Section 5 of the Factories Act empowers the state to withdraw provisions of the act during a public emergency. However, the state governments have equated the pandemic situation with the public emergency. Petitioner argued that the ‘Welfare State’ cannot deprive the oppressed and least fortunate citizens of their basic rights; further forcing them into more miseries. Moreover, workers are already leading a life of trials and tribulations due to the nationwide lockdown. Therefore, the petitioner prayed for quashing the exemption orders.
Meanwhile, the Allahabad High Court, on May 14, 2020, issued a notice in a Public Interest Litigation; challenging the Uttar Pradesh Government’s move to relax certain labour law regulations concerning working hours, rest periods and overtime. Advocates Pranjal Shukla and Vinayak Mitthal filed the petition on behalf of the UP Worker’s Front. The plea stated that this violates Constitutional values.