The Aurangabad Bench of Bombay High Court heard a petition in the case of Align Components Pvt. Ltd. v. Union of India. It allowed the employers to deduct the wages of the workers who remain absent in areas, where the lockdown has been lifted. However, the court refused to interfere with the directions issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs on March 29, 2020. Justice R.V. Ghuge clarified that the state of Maharashtra lifted the lockdown in certain industrial areas. In that case, the workers remain expected to report for duties subject to protection from the novel coronavirus infections by the employer. Being that, the employers have the liberty to deduct the wages if the workers voluntarily remain absent.
Contentions by the Petitioner
Lockdown has been uplifted in some areas. In effect, managements are willing to offer work. Likewise, the workers are also willing to perform the work. But restrictions have been imposed on the continuance of manufacturing activities to prevent the spread of COVID-19; managements have been mandated to shut down their manufacturing units. Henceforth, the petitioners prayed for exemption from paying monthly wages. This is as long as the restrictions on manufacturing activities continue.
Observations by the Court
Taking note of the submissions, the court has granted liberty to the petitioners to add the workers’ representative to come forward with an intervention. The payment of gross wages by the petitioners is subject to the result of this petition. The Bombay High Court has listed the matter on May 18, 2020, for further proceedings.