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Has The MHA Order On Payment Of Full Wages Ceased To Operate With New Lockdown Guidelines Taking Effect?

LIVELAW NEWS NETWORK
18 May 2020 11:45 AM GMT
Has The MHA Order On Payment Of Full Wages Ceased To Operate With New Lockdown Guidelines Taking Effect?
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The March 29 direction to pay full wages to workers without deduction has ceased to have effect from May 18.

The latest guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs on May 17 for the fourth phase of lockdown from May 18 to May 31 has in effect nullified the order issued by the MHA on March 29 for full payment of wages to workers amid the lockdown.The order issued on May 17 states :Whereas, save as otherwise provided in the guidelines annexed to this Order, all Orders issued by NEC under...

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The latest guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs on May 17 for the fourth phase of lockdown from May 18 to May 31 has in effect nullified the order issued by the MHA on March 29 for full payment of wages to workers amid the lockdown.

The order issued on May 17 states :

Whereas, save as otherwise provided in the guidelines annexed to this Order, all Orders issued by NEC under Section 10(2)(l) of the Disaster Management Act 2005 shall cease to have effect from 18.05.2020.


It is pertinent to note that the March 29 order was issued by the Home Secretary in his capacity as the Chairperson of the National Executive Committee under the Disaster Management Act, exercising powers under Section 10(2)(l) of the Act.


The order issued by Home Secretary on March 29 invoking powers under Section 10(2)(l) of the Disaster Management Act 2005 directed as follows :

"All the employees, be it in the Industry or in the shops and commercial establishments, shall make payment of wages of their workers, at their work places, on the due date, without any deduction, for the period their establishments are under closure during the lockdown"

"If any landlord is forcing labourers and students to vacate their premises, they will be liable for action under the [Disaster Management] Act",

The latest lockdown guidelines has annexed only six guidelines, which pertain to the Standard Operating Procedures for movement of stranded persons. Only the operation of these six guidelines, which are mentioned in Annexure 1 of the May 17 order, are saved. The March 29 order is not included in Annexure I. 


This, in effect, means that the March 29 direction to pay full wages to workers without deduction has ceased to have effect from May 18.

A batch of petitions have been filed in the SC questioning the constitutional and legal validity of the March 29 order.

On Friday, the SC passed an interim order in two cases that the authorities should not take any coercive action for non-compliance of the March 29 order for a period of one week.

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

The MHA direction was challenged as unreasonable and arbitrary and as violative of the fundamental right to trade and business of the employers. Since operations are completely shut down during the lockdown, it is impossible for the employers to continue to bear the burden of full salary of employees, the petitioners submitted.

The petitioners also raised the argument that the impugned direction was beyond the scope of powers conferred under the Disaster Management Act.

"Interpreting Section 10(2)(l) of the Disaster Management Act 2005 as conferring power on the Central Government to direct Private Establishment to make full payment of wages to the employees during the lockdown period is arbitrary and violative of Articles 14, 19(1)(g) and 300A of the Constitution of India", said one of the pleas.


 


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