Three Private Firms Seek Relief Against Paying Full Wages to Their Workers

Apex Court bench heard a counsel for three private firms through video conferencing. The three private firms included: Nagreeka Exports Limited and Ficus Pax Private Ltd. Meanwhile, the bench comprised Justices N V Ramana, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and B R Gavai. The case was against the notifications of the MHA asking them to pay full wages to employees during the lockdown. The Supreme Court granted two weeks time to the Centre to respond to a batch of pleas challenging its decision. The Decision of asking employers to pay full wages to their workers during the lockdown imposed due to the outbreak of COVID-19.

Challenged Orders

Explicitly, the plea challenges the constitutional validity of Government Order (GO) issued by MHA on March 29, 2020. However, constitutional validity stands challenged only to a limited extent. That being, “All the employers, be it in the industry or in the shops and commercial establishments, shall make payment of wages of their workers, at their workplaces, on the due date, without any deduction, for the period their establishments are under closure during lockdown period“. Besides, the please also challenges the subsequent GO dated March 31, 2020, issued by the Maharashtra government.

Contentions

The petition states that the government orders passed by the MHA and the Maharashtra government are illegal, unconstitutional and violative of Articles 14 and 19 of the Constitution of India. In light of the fact, that companies are facing losses of more than a crore; coupled with, no work and un-operational factories. Thus, the petitioners ask the Court to set aside both the Centre’s & Maharashtra government order to the extent that payment of full salaries was mandated. Moreover, the plea prays to allow the petitioner to pay only 50 per cent of the salaries to its workers.

Meanwhile, Solicitor General submitted that he wants to file a response to these writ petitions. Accordingly, the top court asked the private firms to supply copies of their applications to the Solicitor General through e-mail. The matter will be listed again after two weeks.