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Labour and Industrial lawyer: The competant authority under Minimum Wages Act 1948, cannot decide the issues, which are beyond the mandate of the Act; SC.

Supreme Court of India

Justice Ajay Rastogi and Justice A M Khanwilkar

The Supreme Court {Steel Authority of India Limited and another versus Jaggu and others} holds that the Minimum Wages Act 1948 is primarily enacted to resolve disputes about the rate of wages, rates of payment of work done on days of rest, and overtime rates, and to ensure that the rates of wages which are not notified by the appropriate government for various categories of employees under the minimum wages act are to be strictly complied with by the employer in making payments. And if any payment is made at the rates lower than the minimum rate of wages prescribed by the appropriate government. The remedy has been provided to the the workmen to invoke section 20 of the act, and being a self contained code, there appears no scope of enquiry to examine the principles of equal pay for equal work or any other dispute which does not fall under the said act by the competent authority established under the said act.

In the said case, the 2040 contract workers, in view of prohibition made by the government for employing Contract Labour by notification dated 17th March 1993 uptil April 1996, in the the captive mine of Steel Authority of India in district Jabalpur, claimed to be treated as regular employees and sought benefits available to regular workers, on the principle of equal pay for equal work. The Supreme Court, after setting aside the order of the High Court, held that the competent authority under the minimum wages act cannot decide the said dispute. Otherwise also it was held that the contract workers were not entitled on merits for the reliefs sought. Accordingly, the Appeal was allowed of the management and the claim petition of the workers was dismissed.

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