Covid -19 Update: Supreme Court on Indian Government’s Directives to Private Employers to Pay Wages

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The Supreme Court on April 27, 2020 took note of public interest litigations (PILs), challenging the constitutionality of the orders passed by the Ministry of Home Affairs (“MHA”) on March 20 and March 29, 2020, asking employers to refrain from termination of employment and mandating them to pay wages to their employees during the lockdown. The petitions filed by a Mumbai-based textile firm, Nagreeka Exports; a Karnataka-based packaging company, Ficus Pax Private Limited; and a Punjab-based Ludhiana Hand Tools Association were heard together. The Bench comprising of Justices N.V. Ramana, Sanjay Kishan Kaul and B.R. Gavai (“Bench”) has granted two weeks’ time to the Central Government to place its policy on record in relation to the implementation of its order on payment of wages.

In another PIL, filed jointly by National Alliance of Journalists, Delhi Union of Journalists, and the Brihan Mumbai Union of Journalists against media organizations for arbitrary lay-offs, salary cuts and related orders, the Bench directed a copy of the petition to be provided to the Central Government to file a reply within two weeks. The petitioners have prayed for immediate suspension of all the termination and resignation notices, wage reductions, and directions to proceed on unpaid leave.

Date:April 27, 2020