The Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) vide its Order dated May 17, 2020 issued the directions that all orders issued by the National Executive Committee (NEC) under Section 10(2)(l) of the Disaster Management Act, 2005 (DMA) shall cease to have effect from May 18, 2020, save as otherwise provided in the guidelines annexed to the MHA Order dated May 17, 2020.
Hence, by implication of the aforesaid MHA Order dated May 17, 2020, all the earlier orders issued by MHA, which were dated 24.03.2020, 29.03.2020, 14.04.2020, 15.04.2020 and 01.05.2020, will no longer remain in force. Particularly, this means that the mandate on the employers not to deduct wages/ salaries of the employees vide the MHA Order dated March 29, 2020 has been nullified with effect from May 18, 2020.
However, considering the labour & employment being a subject matter of the Concurrent List of the Constitution of India, the States may issue notification/ order imposing restrictions on the employers regarding payment of wages/ salaries to the employees.
Additionally, since the MHA Order dated March 29, 2020 pertaining to payment of wages was in operation for the period of lockdown from March 29, 2020 to May 17, 2020, the Supreme Court of India is yet to determine the constitutionality and validity of the same for the said period.
On May 15, 2020, the Supreme Court issued an Interim Order in Hand Tool Manufacturers Association vs. Union of India & Ors. that no coercive action should be taken against private establishments for not companying with the MHA Order dated March 29, 2020 till the time reply is filed by the Central Government.
While the Interim Order has been passed in one of the Writ Petitions, it is likely that since the matter/ issue is sub-judice before the Supreme Court, no coercive action will be taken by the authorities against by any private establishments till the Interim Order remains in operation.
The author is a Corporate and M&A lawyer at Sarin Partners Advocates & Legal Consultants. The views in the article should not be construed as legal advice. Please contact the author for any clarification.