20 May 2021 4:59 AM GMT
Hearing a plea challenging the government's decision to allow the automobile industry to function during the lockdown, the Madras High Court on Monday (May 17) observed, "It is a policy decision and unless it is shown that such decision is absurd to the meanest mind, the Court in the exercise of the authority under Article 226 of the Constitution may not seek to interfere in such...
Hearing a plea challenging the government's decision to allow the automobile industry to function during the lockdown, the Madras High Court on Monday (May 17) observed,
"It is a policy decision and unless it is shown that such decision is absurd to the meanest mind, the Court in the exercise of the authority under Article 226 of the Constitution may not seek to interfere in such a case."
The Bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice Senthilkumar Ramamoorthy, however, asked the State to take immediate appropriate steps if it finds that COVID protocol not being maintained at the exempted manufacturing units.
The matter before the Court
The petitioners submitted that there was no justifiable basis for the automobile industry to be exempted from the strict lockdown conditions otherwise imposed all over the State in the wake of the second surge of the pandemic.
The petitioners also submitted that there are contract labourers and trainees who are being exploited and transport facilities are not made available to the contract labourers and trainees who are otherwise mandatorily required to attend on a daily basis.
The petitioners also suggested that the State should indicate the rationale behind its decision to exempt Renault and Wipro from the rigours of the lockdown
Prima facie, the Court noted that a policy decision had been taken by the State to allow certain types of industries to function despite the strict lockdown imposed from last week.
The Court also noted,
"There is no doubt that due consideration would have gone into choosing which industries to exempt from the lockdown. There is also a presumption that the safety of the workmen at the relevant units would have been taken into account in arriving at the decision."
Further, the Court said that it was a matter between the employer and employees as to what measures should be adopted to ensure the safety and well-being of all employees.
The Court also expressed its hope that the industries that have been exempted from the rigours of the lockdown take independent measures to ensure the well-being and safety of the employees required to attend the office or manufacturing units.
Stressing that the Covid protocol has to be maintained at all times, the Court said,
"Transportation has to be arranged, not only for the direct employees, but also for the contract labourers and trainees and such others who are expected to attend the office or the manufacturing facilities. Distancing norms have always to be maintained even during the manufacturing operations."
Lastly, stressing that the State should take immediate appropriate steps as deemed fit in the larger public interest and to maintain public health, the Court concluded by remarking:
"The State should also monitor the working at various places and advise or restrict the functioning to the extent that may be necessary so as not to compromise public health."
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