Supreme Court bench of Justices DY Chandrachud, KM Joseph & Indu Malhotra quashed Gujarat Government notification granting exemptions to factories from provisions of the Factories Act, 1948 relating to daily working hours, intervals for rest and from payment of overtime wages at double rates viz. Section 59.
Supreme Court said the current pandemic situation cannot be a reason to do away with statutory provisions that provide dignity and rights for workers.
Supreme Court Bench clarified that the current pandemic is not a “public emergency” within the meaning of Section 5 of the Factories Act.
Gujarat Trade Union Associations & Trade Union Centre of India and have told to the Supreme Court that the Factories Act, 1948, otherwise provides that workers can only be made to work 9 hours in a day – but 48 hours in a week with 1 weekly off, thus coming to 8 hours a day with 30 minute breaks after 5 hours of work. Further to this, it provides that no women workers will be allowed to work between 7 PM & 6 AM.
Petitioner aslo submitted that the section barely permits such an exemption to be granted to “any factory or class or description of factories” whereas the impugned notification has given a blanket exemption to all factories in the state.