BIJOY KRISHNA PAUL Vs. STATE OF ASSAM AND ORS.
HIGH COURT OF GAUHATI
Bijoy Krishna Paul
STATE OF ASSAM And ORS.
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P.K. Goswami, J. -
(1.) THIS is an application under Article 226 of the Constitution of India directed against the two notifications of the State Government promulgated under the Minimum Wages Act, 1948 (11 of 1948), hereinafter referred to as the Act.
(2.) THE first impugned notification was published in the Assam Gazette on 22 Jane 1968, and it will be useful to quote the same in extenso:
Shillong, Wednesday, 22 June 1966 8 June 1966
No. GLR. 634/65/15. -In exercise of the powers conferred by Section 3(1)(a) read with Section 5(1)(b) of the Minimum Wages Act, 1948 (11 of 1948), as amended, the Governor of Assam is pleased to publish the following proposed minimum rates of wages to be fixed in respect of the employment in biri -making industry in the whole State of Assam.
Any objection, comment or criticism in this respect is invited and may be received by the Government for consideration on or before 20 August 1966.
The above rates are inclusive of the payment of weekly off -day and no separate payment would be necessary on this account.
The daily wages of the workers should be calculated by dividing the monthly wage by 26.
The above daily rates shall be payable without affecting existing tasks and hours of work....
The second impugned notification was published in the Assam Gazette of 12 October 1966, and may also be set out:
No. 41. Shillong, Wednesday, 12 October 1966 28 September 1966
No. GLR. 634/65/25. -In exercise of the powers conferred by Sub -section (2) of Section 5 of the Minimum Wages Act, 1948 (11 of 1948), the Governor of Assam is pleased to fix the following rates of minimum wages, the same having been previously published with notification No. GLR. 634/65/15, dated 8 June 1966, as required under Clause (b) of Sub -section (1) of the said section in respect of the employment in biri -making industry in the whole State of Assam which shall take effect from the date of publication of this notification.
B. The above rates are inclusive of the payment of weekly off -day and no separate payment would be necessary on this account.
C. The daily wages of the workers should be calculated by dividing the monthly wage by 26.
The above daily rates shall be payable without affecting existing tasks and hours of work.
Briefly, the facts are that the Government intended to prescribe minimum wages for bidi -manufactory which is a scheduled employment as enumerated in the Act. It is not disputed by Sri Sen, the learned Counsel for the petitioner, that bidi manufactory is a scheduled employment. That being the position, it is stated by the petitioner that the Government intended to fix the minimum rates of wages for this Industry and with that end in view, wanted to take action under Section 5(1)(a) of the Act and indeed by letter dated 12 August 1965 (annexure D) asked the petitioner -association to send names of their representatives to serve in a committee which will be set up by the Government under Section 5(1)(a) of the Act. In pursuance of such a notice from the Government, the petitioners also conveyed their willingness to co -operate and submit names of representatives to be included in such a committee, by their letter dated 28 August 1966 (annexure E). The petitioner's case is that the Government after some time gave a complete go -by to this intention of theirs and published the first notification (annexure G) dated 8 Jane 1966, whereby they changed their mind and published various proposed minimum rates of wages for this industry in the Assam Gazette and called for representations on or before 20 August 1966.
(3.) THE petitioners having seen this notification immediately reacted to the proposal by their letter dated 9 July 1966 (annexure H), and raised objection to Government's changing their intention in that behalf. The petitioner claimed that the only reasonable way in the circumstances to fix the minimum rates of wages was to constitute a committee under Section 5(1)(a) of the Act and to fix the minimum wages thereafter under Section 5(2) after considering the advice of the committee. Although it would have keen expected that the Government would reply to this letter, the same however, remained unheeded. Instead, the Government came in with the impugned notification dated 28 September 1966 (annexure I), published in the Assam Gazette on 12 October 1966, which has already been quoted above. Sri Sen, the learned Counsel for the petitioner, raises various questions objecting to these notifications and to the wages which are notified in the final notification. It is not necessary to take all those points into consideration, as will be noticed presently, the controversy may be disposed of by a reference to Sections 5(1)(b) and 5(2) of the Act.;
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