New Delhi: The Delhi high court directed the employers on Monday not to recover from employees the revised wages after it quashed the AAP government’s March 2017 order.
A two-judge bench of acting chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C. Hari Shankar issued the direction, saying an important implication of its August 4 judgement escaped their attention. “We are of the view that wages dispersed shall not be recoverable from employees to whom it has been paid,” the bench said. In its August 4 verdict, the court had quashed the Delhi government’s March 2017 order revising the minimum wages for all classes of workmen in scheduled employment, saying the hurried decision was taken without hearing the employers or employees who would be affected and was violative of the Constitution.
In its 218-page verdict, the bench had also set aside a September 2016 notification by which a Minimum Wages Advisory Committee for all scheduled employments was set up, saying that its constitution was “completely flawed”. The court had noted that though the revision of wages “is sorely needed”, the “hurried attempt” and “contravening principles of natural justice has unfortunately disrupted this course, yet again” and referred to a line from Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll — ‘The hurrier I go, the behinder I get’. It, however, had said the fixation of minimum wages in Delhi cannot be faulted simply because they are higher than the rates of minimum wages fixed in the surrounding states and towns.
The court’s verdict had come on the pleas by employers — associations of traders, petrol dealers and restaurants — who had sought setting aside of the March 3, 2017 notification revising the minimum wages, saying they were not represented or heard by the advisory committee.
According to the March 3, 2017 notification, for an unskilled worker the minimum wages were fixed at Rs 13,350 per month against the then existing Rs 9,724 per month.
For semi-skilled and skilled persons, it had increased from Rs 10,764 to Rs 14,698 and from Rs 11,830 to Rs 16,182 per month, respectively.
The employers had in their pleas sought setting aside of the September 15, 2016 notification constituting the advisory committee, claiming that the persons representing the employers in the panel did not have expertise with regard to the nature of employment in the capital.