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Raised Minimum Wages To Apply In Delhi During Pendency Of SLP; Revised Notification Be Prepared In 3 Months: SC [Read Order]

The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed provisional restoration of a 37% hike in minimum wages by the Delhi Government, during the pendency of the Special Leave Petitions filed before it.

The bench comprising Chief Justice of India Ranjan Gogoi, Justice UU Lalit and Justice KM Joseph clarified that while no arrears would need to be paid presently, the current wages would be as per the notification.

The court further directed the Delhi Government to re-do the exercise of fixing the minimum wages for the scheduled employment afresh, following the route prescribed either under Section 5(1)(a) or 5(1)(b) of the Minimum Wages Act, 1948.

It was then assured by Senior Counsel Dushyant Dave, representing the Delhi Government, that the exercise will be completed within a period of two months. The court, however, opined that it should be granted three months instead, directing the AAP government to submit before the court the notification that would be proposed at the end of this period.

The court further ordered that the question of arrears under the impugned notification will be governed by the wages re-fixed pursuant to the fresh notification. Besides, it clarified that no recovery of amount paid shall be made by the employers.

“Needless to say, in the de novo exercise ordered to be carried out will be open for all the stake- holders to raise all issues as may be relevant,” it added.

The high court had, in August this year, quashed the Delhi Government’s much-touted March 2017 order revising the minimum wages for all classes of workmen in scheduled employment, opining that the same was ultra vires Article 14 of the Constitution of India.

The Bench comprising Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C. Hari Shankar had further opined that the impugned notification suffered from “non-application of mind”, was not based on any material and violated principles of natural justice.

It had also declared the constitution of the Minimum Wages Advisory Committee for all scheduled employments by the Government as ultra vires Sections 5(1) and 9 of the Minimum Wages Act, 1948, opining that the formation of this committee was “completely flawed”.

The high court’s verdict was issued on petitions filed by employers — associations of traders, petrol dealers and restaurants — who had challenged two notifications— one issued in September, 2016 reconstituting the Minimum Wages Advisory Committee for all scheduled employments, and another issued in March, 2017, revising the minimum rates of wages for all classes of workmen/employees in all scheduled employments.

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