Case BriefsHigh Courts

Rajasthan High Court: Mohammad Rafiq, J. disposed of an application seeking a grant of last wages drawn by the employee under the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947.

In the present case, the respondent-employee had moved an application under Section 17-B of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 for receiving the amount of wages last drawn by him from the date of filing the application.

The counsel representing the petitioner-employer, Neeraj Jain submitted that the labour court erred in passing the award since there was no master-servant relationship subsisting between the parties.

The Court upon hearing both the parties stated, that once the labour court has declared in its award that the retrenchment of respondent-employee as illegal, even if the execution of the award has been stayed, according to mandate of Section 17-B of the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 the respondent-employee is having statutory right to receive amount of wages last drawn by him from the date of filing of the application. However, the petitioner-employer will have an option to re-engage the respondent-employee as per the payable wages. The Court directed the petitioner-employer to pay the amount due to the petitioner within a period of six weeks.[Manager Employer v. Judge Industrial Dispute, 2019 SCC OnLine Raj 3027decided on 19-09-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Rajasthan High Court: The Bench of Arun Bhansali, J.,  allowed the writ petition filed in regard to payment of minimum wages as prescribed for skilled workman under the provisions of the Minimum Wages Act, 1948. 

The facts of the case were that the petitioners were employed as Pump Driver/Operator under Janata Jal Yojana, promulgated by Government of Rajasthan to provide drinking water to the citizens. They sought directions to the respondents to make payment of minimum wages as prescribed for skilled workman under the provisions of the Minimum Wages Act, 1948. They also prayed that the respondents should be directed to release 50% of the minimum wages withheld w.e.f. February 2013. Pawan Singh Rathore, counsel appearing for the petitioners, submitted that the controversy involved in the writ petition was covered by a decision of this Court rendered in Jagdish Singh v. State of Rajasthan, S.B. Civil Writ Petition No. 5954/17, which was allowed with the directions that the petitioners who were employed under Gramin Janta Jal Yojana as Pump Driver/Pump Operator should be entitled to the wages as prescribed for skilled workman by the State of Rajasthan as per the provisions of Minimum Wages Act, 1948. It also directed that the amount of 50% of the minimum wages payable to the petitioners withheld by the respondents should be released forthwith. It was made clear in this case that these directions would apply only to the cases where the scheme in question was floated and implemented and not in any other case. If the scheme Gramin Janta Jal Yojana was not floated in a particular Gram Panchayat, the respondents would not be liable for payment at the rate of minimum wages rather, in that case, if any of the petitioners was employed in other scheme or otherwise, he would be at liberty to approach the authority under the Minimum Wages Act for adjudication of the dispute. 

The Court upheld the decision given in Jagdish Singh case and allowed the writ petition. [Rupendra Singh v. State of Rajasthan, 2019 SCC OnLine Raj 491, decided on 15-05-2019]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Bombay High Court: A Division Bench comprising of R.M. Savant and Nitin W. Sambre, JJ. allowed a petition filed by a suspended worker seeking payment of suspension allowance during the pendency of disciplinary enquiry against him.

The petitioner was registered with the respondent Board. In June 2018, he was served a show cause notice for initiating departmental proceedings against him. Subsequently, he was suspended from service. The petitioner requested the respondent for payment of suspension allowance which was not granted. Aggrieved thereby, the petitioner filed the instant petition.

The High Court perused the entire scheme of the service conditions and the statute under which the petitioner’s service was governed. It was observed that the object behind payment of suspension allowance is that the suspended employee is able to keep his body and soul together during his suspension period and is able to sustain himself. It was held that once there is a power to suspend vested in an employer, then the necessary concomitant is that the employer has to pay the suspension allowance to the employee. Furthermore, it was observed as well settled that suspension allowance is a part of “wages” defined under Section 2(vi) of the Payment of Wages Act, 1936. In light of the aforesaid, the petition was allowed and the respondent was directed to pay suspension allowance to the petitioner at a rate to be fixed by the Board. [Tanaji Genba Pawge v. Mumbai Vegetable Market Unprotected Workers Board,2018 SCC OnLine Bom 4140, dated 30-10-2018]

Case BriefsSupreme Court

Supreme Court: The bench of Madan B. Lokur and NV Ramana, JJ directed the the Ministry of Rural Development to prepare an urgent time bound mandatory program to make the payment of wages and compensation to the workers in consultation with the State Governments and Union Territory Administrations. The Bench said:

“This is not only in the interest of the workers who have expended unskilled manual labour but also in furtherance of the rule of law which must be followed in letter and spirit.”

On the issue pertaining to the delay in payment of wages and compensation to the beneficiaries under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005 (Act) and the Scheme framed thereunder, the Court said that in terms of the Act and Schedule II thereof a worker is entitled to payment of wages within a fortnight of the date on which the work was done, failing which the worker is entitled to the compensation as prescribed in paragraph 29 of the Schedule II of the Act. Stating that one entity cannot pass on the burden to another and vice versa, the Court said that the burden of compliance is on the State Governments and Union Territory Administrations as well as the Central Government.

On Central Government’s argument that it has no responsibility after the second signature is placed on the Fund Transfer Orders, the Court said:

“The Central Government cannot be seen to shy away from its responsibility or taking advantage of a person who has been placed in the unfortunate situation of having to seek employment under the Act and then not being paid wages for the unskilled manual labour within the statutorily prescribed time. The State Governments and Union Territory Administrations may be at fault, but that does not absolve the Central Government of its duty.”

Stating that delays are simply not acceptable, the bench said that the law requires and indeed mandates payment of wages not later than a fortnight after the date on which the work was done by the worker or labourer. Any reason for the delay in receiving wages is not at all the concern of the worker. He or she is entitled to get the due wages within a fortnight of completion of the work. It was hence held that if there are any administrative inefficiencies or deficiencies or laxity, it is entirely for the State Government and the Ministry of Rural Development to sort out the problem. [Swaraj Abhiyan (VI) v. Union of India,  2018 SCC OnLine SC 578, decided on 18.05.2018]