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[COVID-19] Principle of "no work-no wages" cannot be applied in these extraordinary circumstances: Bombay High Court

Shruti Mahajan

The Aurangabad Bench of the Bombay High Court recently observed that during this present time of the COVID-19 pandemic, the principle of "no work- no wages" cannot be made applicable by the employers. (Rashtriya Shramik Aghadi vs Maharashtra)

A single Judge Bench of the Bombay High Court's Aurangabad Bench on Tuesday directed the Tuljabhavani Mandir Sansthan trust at Aurangabad to ensure that all its contract labourers are paid their wages in full till the month of May this year.

Justice Ravindra Ghuge was hearing a plea by a contract workers' union raising grievance that despite the workers offering their services as security personnel or for other duties at the Tuljabhavani Mandir Sansthan, they were precluded from doing so on account of the COVID-19 lockdown.

Based on the submissions made, the Court observed that the workers appeared to have been paid a measly amount for the month of April while less than the gross salary was paid in March.

The Court also took note of the circumstances prevalent wherein able bodied persons were offering their services but were not allotted any work given that all the temples and places of worship are shut on account of the nation-wide lockdown.

The Court, however, said that it cannot "turn a Nelson's eye" to this situation and the plight of the workers.

The inability of the principal employer to allot any work to these workers offering their services was also highlighted before the Court. The Court, however, said that these are extraordinary circumstances where the principle of "no work-no wages" cannot be applied.

"I feel that the principle of “no work­ no wages” cannot be made applicable in such extraordinary circumstances. The Court cannot be insensitive to the plight of such workers, which has unfortunately befallen them on account of the Covid­19 pandemic."
Justice Ghuge said.

The Court, thus, directed the Temple trust to ensure full wages for the months of March, April, and May are paid to the workers and the principle of "no work- no wages" is not invoked until further orders.

Read the Order:

Rashtriya Shramik Aghadi vs Maharashtra.pdf
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