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Tea Garden Owners Free To Decide If They Want To Implement Govt's Order Increasing Assam Tea Workers' Wage: Gauhati High Court

Sparsh Upadhyay
19 March 2021 11:33 AM GMT
Tea Garden Owners Free To Decide If They Want To Implement Govts Order Increasing Assam Tea Workers Wage: Gauhati High Court
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The Gauhati High Court on Tuesday (16th March) granted interim relief to the Tea Estate owners in the State of Assam by giving them the 'liberty' to decide if they wish to comply with the State Government's last month Notification directing them to give enhanced wages to tea workers. Directing that no coercive be taken against Tea Garden owners/Companies, the Bench of Justice...

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The Gauhati High Court on Tuesday (16th March) granted interim relief to the Tea Estate owners in the State of Assam by giving them the 'liberty' to decide if they wish to comply with the State Government's last month Notification directing them to give enhanced wages to tea workers.

Directing that no coercive be taken against Tea Garden owners/Companies, the Bench of Justice Michael Zothankhuma remarked,

"This Court is of the view that liberty should be given to the petitioners to pay to the workmen any interim enhancement of their wages as they deem proper, till the issue is finally decided by this Court."

Earlier, on 08th March, the Court had restrained the State government from taking any "coercive action" against the tea estates for not following State Government's last month Notification.

The matter before the Court

Vide the impugned Notification dated 23rd February 2021, the Government of Assam had enhanced the minimum wage given to Tea plantation workers by an interim amount of Rs. 50 per day w.e.f. 22.02.2021.

This Notification was directed to operate till the finalization of revised minimum wages, in terms of the State Amendment to Section 5(1)(a) of the Minimum Wages Act, 1948.

Through the notification, the minimum wage of tea plantation workers was increased from Rs 167 per day to Rs 217 per day by adding an "interim amount" of Rs 50.

In this backdrop, the Indian Tea Association and 17 tea companies moved the Gauhati High Court challenging Government's order.

As reported by The Hindu, the Association and the tea companies had, in their petition, stated that the notification was "illegal in as much as, no Committee/Sub-Committees have been formed as required under Section 5(1/a) and Section 9 of the Minimum Wages Act, 1948."

As reported in the media and as per the experts, the move of the State Government to increase the daily wage ahead of the assembly polls was aimed at wooing the tea-tribe community.

Significantly, the next date fixed by the Court to hear the matter is April 23 and by that time the polls in the state would be over.

Case title - Indian Tea Association and 17 Ors. v. The State Of Assam and 4 Ors. [WP(C)/1491/2021]

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