The Supreme Court observed that non-payment of salary for work done by the employees who served by virtue of an interim order of a Court would tantamount to taking begar from them.
'Begar' means labour or service that a person is forced to give without remuneration or at less than minimum wages. Article 23 of the Constitution of India prohibits Begar and it is also a punishable offence.
The bench comprising Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Navin Sinha were considering an appeal filed by some employees. The bench was hearing appeals from an order passed by the Lucknow Bench of Allahabad High Court, in which it had directed that the employees could not continue in the service and held that the salary paid to them be recovered from them as they worked only under interim orders of the High Court.
While allowing their appeal, the bench said that they will be entitled to salary for the period they have rendered their services. It said: "Since the appellants have served as per the interim order, obviously they have to be paid the salary for the period they have rendered their services. Non-payment of salary to them for the period they have served under the interim order or otherwise would tantamount to taking begar from them, which is prohibited under Article 23 of the Constitution of India."
It was further held that the salary, if not paid, shall be paid to the petitioners within four weeks from the date of the order. It was also made clear that if the petitioners have been paid the salary for the aforesaid period, the same shall not be recovered from them.
Advocate Namit Saxena argued for the petitioners along with Advocate Rohit Pandey and AOR Taruna Ardhendumauli Prasad while the State of Uttar Pradesh was represented by Garima Prashad, Standing Counsel.