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Delhi HC Issues Notice On Workers' Plea For FIR Against Employers For Non Payment Of Wages As Per MHA Direction

Nilashish Chaudhary
16 May 2020 1:26 PM GMT
Delhi HC Issues Notice On Workers Plea For FIR Against Employers For Non Payment Of Wages As Per MHA Direction
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The Delhi High Court on Friday issued notice in a plea filed by private employees of a car rental company seeking the registration of an FIR against the Directors for not paying wages during the lockdown.

Aggrieved by the Company's alleged stand to deny them wages, despite the Ministry of Home Affairs' (MHA) Notification dated March 29 calling for States to ensure payment of wages to all employees during this period, 10 employees moved the High Court seeking directions for implementation of the said Order. Additionally, the petitioners have also requested the Court to order the MHA to direct the Company to pay the aggrieved employees their wages.

The petitioners have been in continuous employment of the private company for some years now and contributions towards a Provident Fund (PF) has been deducted from their salaries every month. In order to avail benefits of the Finance Ministry's scheme, the petitioners add, they intended to withdraw money from their PFs during testing times. However, information regarding details of their PFs were also refused by the employers after they had refused to pay their wages, allege the petitioners.

The petition, filed by advocates Amit Kumar Sharma and Satyam Singh, further enunciates that the distressed employees filed a complaint at the Vasant Kunj Police Station on April 16, urging them to implement the Centre's Notification from March 29. Thereafter, on April 22, they also served a notice to the Directors of the Company, drawing their attention to the same.

"The respondents no.3 and 4 (Directors of the Company) have ever since then repeatedly denied making the payment of wage and have further fraudulently deducted employee provident fund from the salaries of the petitioners herein and have therefore denied them effective exercise of their right to withdraw the said provident fund amount according to the schemes of the ministry of finance collected amount in this hour of need and therefore have violated the essential right to preserve ones life in this pandemic

The petitioners in an attempt to put the criminal justice system in motion had approached the sho with complaint against the respondents no.3 and respondent no.4, however the same was to avail."

SC Says No Coercive Action Against Employers In Two Pleas Challenging MHA Order On Full Payment Of Wages; No Interim Order In Connected Cases

Despite all their efforts, submit the petitioners, there has been no action taken by the Delhi Police. The inaction on part of the Police as well as their employers, they argue, is a violation of their Fundamental Right to live with respect and dignity under Article 21 of the Constitution.

"The respondent no.2 (Delhi Police) cannot forgo their duties and responsibilities and are required by law to give effect to the notification/order/directions passed by the respondent no.1 (MHA) and to further act on complaints that have been filed by the petitioners."

In this light, the petitioners have implored the Court to direct the MHA to provide an adequate and effective mechanism for the implementation of its Notification which was aimed at mitigating the economic hardship due to COVID-19. In the absence of the same, and given the 'nonchalant attitude' of the police, add the petitioners, employees are left to the mercy of fate.

Taking note of these grievances, Delhi High Court's Single Judge Bench of Justice Navin Chawla issued notice and sought a response from the MHA, Delhi Police and the two Directors of the Car Rental Company. The matter will now come up for hearing on May 29.

A batch of petitions have been filed in the SC challenging the March 29 order of the MHA. On Friday, the SC passed an interim order in two cases that no coercive action should be taken against employers in respect of non-payment of wages, until next week.

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