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SC agrees to examine mass terminations, pay cuts in IT-ITES-BPO-KPI sectors
New Delhi, May 8, 2020
The Supreme Court on Friday agreed to consider a plea raising the issue of mass termination and the illegal salary cut of employees in the IT, ITES, BPO and KPI segments by their employers during the lockdown imposed to contain the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
A bench comprising Justices Ashok Bhushan, S. K. Kaul and B. R. Gavai, taking up the matter through video conferencing, agreed to examine the issue and listed it for May 15.
The petition, argued by senior advocate Devadatt Kamat, was filed by National Information Technology Employees Sena (NITES) through advocate-on-record Amit Pai, and sought implementation of directions issued by the Centre on March 29 and similar advisories issued by several other states mandating payment of wages/salaries to the employees and also directing them not to terminate the services of employees during the period of lockdown.
A directive was issued by the Union Ministry of Labour and Empowerment to all Chief Secretaries of state governments to issue advisories to public and private companies to not lay off employees or implement pay cuts during the lockdown.
In the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy (CMIE) report published on April 19, it was noted that "several companies across the country have started to terminate their employees without any reasonable cause and have started withholding their salaries. It is submitted that in such testing times, the rights of the employees ought to be protected by necessary orders/directions to the companies through the Respondents to effectively implement the lockdown and to contain the spread of the virus," said the plea.
On March 29, the Centre issued an order directing all states and Union Territories to issue orders, requiring all the employers in the industrial sector and shops and commercial establishments to pay wages on the due date without any deduction during their closure due to the lockdown.