Thursday, 14 May 2020

Bombay HC: No work no wages” cannot be made applicable in such extraordinary circumstances

This Court cannot turn a Nelson's eye to an extraordinary
situation on account of Corona virus/ COVID19
pandemic. Able bodied
persons, who are willing and desirous to offer their services in deference
to their deployment as contract labourers in the security and house
keeping sector of the Trust, are unable to work since the temples and

places of worships in the entire nation have been closed for securing the
containment of COVID19
pandemic. Even the principal employer is
unable to allot the work to such employees in such situation. Prima facie,
I feel that the principle of “no workno
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.
IN THE HIGH COURT OF JUDICATURE AT BOMBAY
BENCH AT AURANGABAD
WRIT PETITION NO.4013 OF 2020

RASHTRIYA SHRAMIK AGHADI. Vs THE STATE OF MAHARASHTRA AND OTHERS

CORAM: RAVINDRA V. GHUGE, J.

DATE :12th  May, 2020

Per Court:
1 This matter is taken up through Video Conferencing by Vidyo
App during the nationwide lockdown
on account of COVID19
pandemic.
2 By this petition, the petitioner Union has made a grievance
that after the lockdown
has been effected and though the members of the
Petitioner Union, are willing to offer their services as security guards and
health workers with Shri Tuljabhavani Mandir Sansthan, Tuljapur, they
are precluded from performing their duties on account of the clamping of
lockdown
for containment of COVID19
pandemic. Though certain
proceedings are pending under the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 and the
Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970 before the Assistant

Commissioner of Labour, Latur, further hearings in the matter are not
possible due to the clamping of the lockdown.
3 The learned advocate for the petitioner has uploaded a ready
reference chart to indicate the gross monthly wages of the employees till
JanuaryFebruary,
2020 and the payments made by the contractors to the
said employees for the months of March and April, 2020. Considering the
submissions of the petitioner, it appears that the payments made by the
contractors for the month of March, 2020 are slightly lesser than the gross
salary and for the month of April, 2020 a paltry amount is paid.
4 The learned advocate appearing on behalf of respondent
Nos.2 and 3 submits that the District Collector, Osmanabad is now the
President of the Trust and the Tahasildar is the ManagerAdministration.
These two authorities are administering the Trust.
5 He further submits that considering the pendency of the
proceedings before the Assistant Labour Commissioner, Latur, this petition
need not be entertained and in the event, this Court is inclined to
entertain the same, the maintainability issue be left open.
6 This Court cannot turn a Nelson's eye to an extraordinary
situation on account of Corona virus/ COVID19
pandemic. Able bodied
persons, who are willing and desirous to offer their services in deference
to their deployment as contract labourers in the security and house
keeping sector of the Trust, are unable to work since the temples and

places of worships in the entire nation have been closed for securing the
containment of COVID19
pandemic. Even the principal employer is
unable to allot the work to such employees in such situation. Prima facie,
I feel that the principle of “no workno
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.
7 The learned advocate representing the administration of the
Temple Trust submits that he cannot comment upon the chart just now
uploaded by the learned advocate for the petitioner since he has not taken
instructions as regards the payment made to the contractors for the
months of April and May, 2020, keeping in view that this petition is filed
on 22.02.2020 and the COVID19
lockdown
has occurred on 22.03.2020.
8 In view of the above, the petitioner is directed to add the two
contractors as respondent Nos.4 and 5. Liberty is granted to serve the
contractors through all legally permissible and possible modes of service.
This petition shall stand over to 09.06.2020 or any date thereafter, when
the Court conducts hearing of cases.
9 In the meanwhile, the District Collector, Osmanabad, in his
capacity as President of Respondent No.2 Trust/ Principal Employer, shall
ensure that full wages, save and except food allowance and conveyance
allowance (only with regard to the employees who are not required to

report for duties), shall be disbursed by the contractors to the concerned
employees for the months of March, April and May, 2020. The principle of
“no work no
wages” shall not be invoked until further orders in this
petition. Needless to state, such payment of wages would be subject to the
result of this petition or the proceedings before the Assistant
Commissioner of Labour, Latur, which would progress only if the lockdown
is completely lifted and free movement of citizens would be
permitted.

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