Advocate Rajesh Inamdar and Harpreet Saluja, General Secretary of the National Information Technology Employees Sena – “NITES” has moved a plea in the Supreme Court for strict compliance of the government notifications dated March 20 and March 29, which directed employers not to terminate jobs and to ensure that wages are paid during lockdown.
Advocates Rajesh Inamdar, Amit Pai, Aishwarya Rai B and Tosif Shaikh has moved the plea. The plea has been settled by Senior Advocate Devadatta Kamat.
The petition stated its main aim
“balance between the rights of the employers and those of the employees, the latter being the more disadvantaged class.” not to burden the employers.
The petition prayed that the Court should also direct the initiation of action against all such companies who violate the directives under these government notifications under Section 51 and 58 of the Disaster Management Act, 2005.
The petition stated that mass termination of employees, and the withholding of their salaries during these severe times is “contrary to public policy, and directly affecting the right to livelihood of several persons.”
It further stated,
“Various private companies in the country have initiated a drive of illegal mass termination of the employees, withholding of the salaries or illegal deduction of salaries in complete breach and violation of the directions/advisories and appeal made by Government and taking advantage of the deadlock situation which has emerged in the Country. Employers who are on dominant position are taking harsh decisions and unconscionable bargains with the employees.”
The plea stated,
The main purpose of the petition is to ensure that the lakhs of employees engaged in the private sector are not terminated, and so that they are able to draw at least subsistence salary, to get over the present unprecedented lockdown due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A principle question for the consideration of Supreme Court will be, “whether a balance has to be drawn between private contractual rights/obligations and public policy, in a pandemic situation.”
The petitioners state that employees working in various IT/ITES companies across countries for over several years have been instructed /informed over phones calls about their termination, without even following the procedure envisaged under various enactments such as the Industrial Disputes Act etc.
The plea stated further,
“Such terminations are illegal, unreasonable and based on convenience. It is submitted no procedure like notice period, intimation to government authorities, payment of retrenchment compensation, payment of gratuity, Leave encashment, etc. has been undertaken by the Companies”
The primary basis of the petition stated such job and salary cuts is in contravention to the fundamental rights under Articles 14, 19(1)(g) and Article 21.