NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday asked the government not to resort to any coercive action against private companies who have not paid their workers full wages during the lockdown in accordance with a government order in March.
The order came on petitions, including one filed by an association of companies from Punjab, challenging the validity of the MHA notification mandating payment of full wages to workers during the lockdown.
“How long can the government expect companies to pay?” a three-judge bench headed by Justices L Nageswara Rao asked Solicitor General Tushar Mehta who sought further time to respond to the petition. While hearing another petition filed by Ficus Pax Ltd, the apex court had last month given two weeks to the Centre to place on record its policy on the MHA notification directing payment of full salaries/wages to employees/workers during the lockdown.
Ludhiana Hand Tools Association has also challenged the validity of Section 10(2)(i) of the Disaster Management Act, 2005.
Terming the MHA order as arbitrary, it said the order violated the private firms’ right to carry on any occupation, trade or business guaranteed under Articles 19(1)(g) of the Constitution.
The bench said there may be small industries, which are affected due to the lockdown as they can sustain for say 15 odd days but not more and if they cannot earn, how are they going to pay their workers