Don't coerce private companies to pay employees for lockdown period: SC to centre
The bench asked the Centre to file an additional affidavit within four weeks regarding the legality of the Ministry of Home Affairs' March 29 circular which had mandated payment of full wages during the lockdown period.
The Supreme Court ordered on Friday that the government should not take any coercive action against private companies that have failed to pay full wages to their employees during the coronavirus-induced lockdown period till the last week of July. It asked employees and industries to sit together to arrive at a settlement on the issue of payment of wages.
The SC bench, comprising of Justices Ashok Bhushan, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and M R Shah asked the state governments to facilitate this settlement process and file its report with the labour commissioners concerned.
"No industry can survive without the workers. Thus employers and employee need to negotiate and settle among themselves. If they are not able to settle it among themselves, they need to approach the concerned labour authorities to sort the issues out," said Justice Bhushan.
The bench also asked the Centre to file an additional affidavit within four weeks with regard to the legality of the Ministry of Home Affairs' March 29 circular which had mandated payment of full wages during the lockdown period.
"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 the lockdown," the MHA order had said.
Appearing for the government, Attorney General KK Venugopal said that the order was to prevent the massive exodus of the migrant labourers.
"...People were migrating in crores, they wanted the industries to continue. The notification was to stop the workers which they only would if they are paid," he said.
The bench posted the petitions filed by various companies against the March 29 circular, for further hearing in last week of July.
(With PTI inputs)