SC issues notice to govt against advisory to pay salary

SC issues notice to Centre on a plea against advisory to pay full salary

The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to the Centre on a plea questioning validity of the orders issued by it to pay full salary to the employees during the period of lockdown.

A bench of Justices N V Ramana, Sanjay Kishan Kaul, and B R Gavai sought a reply from the Centre within two weeks on petitions filed by Mumbai-based Nagreeka Exports Limited, Punjab's Ludhiana Hand Tools Association and others.

The petitioners contended the National Disaster Management Authority and National Executive Committee constituted under the National Disaster Management Act did have no power to direct the employers to make payment to their workers, without any deduction, during the period of lockdown.

It said the orders issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs on March 29 and Maharashtra government on March 31 were violative of fundamental rights, besides being "illegal, unethical, improper and illegitimate".

"The orders have taken into consideration only the employee class and have totally ignored the rights of the employer. COVID-19 is adversely impacting both employer and employee class. Therefore, the government ought to have taken a balanced view so that both these classes could overcome this unprecedented situation," the plea said. 

The petitioner sought permission to pay wages at the rate of 50% of basic pay plus dearness allowance to its workers or employees. 

The company also contended the workers' absenteeism have led to zero production in this period. In such a scenario, if the employers are forced to make payment to the workers for the entire lockdown period, it may lead to closure of many micro, small and medium scale industries, causing permanent unemployment of many people and detriment to the economy, it added.

Ludhiana Hand Tools Association was also aggrieved with the MHA's direction, saying it was manifestly arbitrary, unconstitutional and violative of right to equality and freedom to carry out business guaranteed under the Constitution.