Published on: February 12, 2024 at 11:43 IST
The Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh High Court, under the stewardship of Justice Vinod Chatterji Koul, has reasserted the primary responsibility of employers for wage payments under the Payment of Wages Act, 1936.
The Court stated that if a contractor or the person designated by the employer fails to make wage payments, it becomes the employer’s duty to fulfill the payment obligations mandated by the Act.
The judgment, which dismissed two writ petitions challenging Labour Court orders and directed government departments to pay wages directly to workers, follows a clear interpretation of Section 3 of the Act.
Justice Koul emphasized that employers are accountable for payment of all wages as required by the Act to individuals employed directly or indirectly through contractors.
The case originated from Awards issued on July 22, 2013, by a Labour Court under the Payment of Wages Act. Subsequent appeals were heard by the Principal District Judge, Bandipora.
The petitioner department contested the Awards, arguing that the contracted-out work absolved them of direct responsibility for wage payments. However, Justice Koul analyzed the Act’s provisions, specifically Section 3(2), which places the responsibility on the employer if the contractor fails to make payments.
Highlighting the mandatory nature of Section 17(1A) of the Act, the court emphasized that when filing an appeal, the petitioner must deposit disputed amounts with the relevant authority. Failure to comply with this condition renders the appeals ineffective and incomplete.
Referring to precedent, including the case of Executive Engineer v. Authority under Payment of Wages Act 2007, the court underscored the importance of adhering to this requirement.
In conclusion, the court dismissed the writ petitions, upholding the orders directing the department to make direct payments to the workers.
Case Title: Executive Engineer Roads and Buildings, Bandipora vs. Nazir Ahmad Teli