Courts cannot be insensitive to the plight of labourers, daily wagers and other workers, observed the Aurangabad bench of the Bombay High Court, saying no employer should invoke the 'no work-no wages' policy in these trying times.
The order was passed by the HC while hearing a plea filed by the Rashtriya Shramik Aghadi - the union of the workers of the Tuljabhavani Mandir Sansthan, Tuljapur.
The workers, through their counsel, informed a bench of Justice Ravindra Ghuge that though they were willing to offer their services as security guards and health workers with the Mandir Sansthan, they were precluded from performing their duties on account of the lockdown put into effect for the containment of Covid-19 pandemic.
The workers further informed the bench that though they had received their full wages for January and February, in March and April, they had been paid lower amounts.
"It appears that the payments made for the month of March are slightly lesser than the gross salary and for the month of April, a paltry amount is paid," Justice Ghuge noted.
On the other hand, the trustees informed the court that the district collector is now the president of the trust and he would be taking the final call on the issue.
At this, Justice Ghuge observed, "This court cannot turn a Nelson's eye to an extraordinary situation on account of the novel coronavirus 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 housekeeping sector of the trust, are unable to work since the temples and places of worship in the entire nation have been closed for securing the containment of the virus," the judge noted.
The bench further took into account the fact that even the principal employer was unable to allot work to such employees in such a situation.
"Prima facie, I feel that the principle of no work-no 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," Justice Ghuge held.
The bench accordingly ordered the district collector of Osmanabad to ensure that full wages were paid to all these workers. "The principle of no work-no wages shall not be invoked until further orders," Justice Ghuge reiterated, while posting the matter for further hearing in June.