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Supreme Court orders no coercive action against Jute Mills for not paying wages to employees during the lockdown

Debayan Roy

While hearing a plea by the Indian Jute Mills Association seeking to quash the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) notification compelling payment of full wages to workers during lockdown, the Supreme Court ordered that no coercive be taken against the petitioner till one week.

The bench of Justices L Nageshwara Rao, SK Kaul and BR Gavai has also issued notice to Union of India returnable in one week.

The Writ Petition, filed under Article 32 of the Constitution of India, challenges the constitutional validity of clause (iii) of the Government Order No. 40-3/2020-DM-I(A) dated March 29 issued by MHA.

The petitioner association represented by Senior Advocate Mukul Rohatgi stated that “jute textile” is an essential commodity within the meaning of Section 2A of the Essential Commodities Act, 1955 and used for packaging of food grains, sugar etc. under the Jute Packaging Materials (Compulsory Use in Packing Commodities) Act, 1987.

The plea argues that imposition of such an unreasonable condition of making payments to all employees regardless of the financial condition of the employer imposes a grave financial burden on the employer and can push a private establishment to bankruptcy and closure, thus, being violative of Article 19(1)(g).

It further states that, the ramifications of private establishments to abide by such financial burdens do not stand the test of reasonableness under Article 19(6).

[READ ORDER]

Order dated 15.05.2020.pdf
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