The Constitution of India Has Conferred Innumerable Rights on the Protection of Labour

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The Constitution of India has conferred innumerable rights on the protection of labour. In this chapter let’s see in brief what are all the rights confered and what are the mechanism used, with the support of case laws. Articles 14, 19, 21, 23 and 24 form part of the Fundamental Rights guaranteed under Part III of the Constitution. Articles 38, 39, 39-A, 41, 42, 43, 43-A and 47 form part of the Directive Principles of State Policy under Part IV of the Constitution. Article 14 Art 14 of the India
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  The Constitution of India has conferred innumerable rights on the protection of labour. In this chapter let’s see in brief what are all the rights confered and what are the mechanism used, with the support of case laws.   Articles 14, 19, 21, 23 and 24 form part of the Fundamental Rights guaranteed under Part III of the Constitution.   Articles 38, 39, 39-A, 41, 42, 43, 43-A and 47 form part of the Directive Principles of State Policy under Part IV of the Constitution.   Article 14   Art 14 of the Indian Constitution explains the concept of Equality before law. The concept of equality does not mean absolute equality among human beings which is physically not  possible to achieve. It is a concept implying absence of any special privilege by reason of  birth, creed or the like in favour of any individual, and also the equal subject of all individuals and classes to the ordinary law of the land. As Dr. Jennings puts it: Equality  before the law means that among equals the law should be equal and should be equally administered, that like should be treated alike. The right to sue and be sued, to prosecute and  be prosecuted for the same kind of action should be same for all citizens of full age and understanding without distinctions of race, religion, wealth, social status or political influence” It only means that all persons similarly  circumstance shall be treated alike both in the privileges conferred and liabilities imposed by the laws. Equal law should be applied to all in the same situation, and there should be no discrimination between one person and another. As regards the subject-matter of the legislation their position is the same.   Thus, the rule is that the like should be treated alike and not that unlike should be treated alike. In Randhir Singh v. Union of India(AIR 1982 SC 879)  ,  the Supreme Court has held that although the principle of 'equal pay for equal work' is not expressly declared by our Constitution to be a fundamental right, but it is certainly a constitutional goal under Articles 14, 16 and 39 (c) of the Constitution. This right can, therefore, be enforced in cases of unequal scales of pay based on irrational classification. This decision has been followed in a number of cases by the Supreme Court.   In Dhirendra Chamoli v. State of U.P (AIR 1986 SC 172  ) it has been held that the principle of equal pay for equal work is also applicable to casual workers employed on daily wage  basis. Accordingly, it was held that persons employed in Nehru Yuwak Kendra in the country as casual workers on daily wage basis were doing the same work as done by Class IV employees appointed on regular basis and, therefore, entitled to the same salary and conditions of service. It makes no difference whether they are appointed in sanctioned posts or not. It is not open to the Government to deny such benefit to them on the ground that they accepted the employment with full knowledge that they would be paid daily wages. Such denial would amount to violation of Article 14. A welfare State committed to a socialist  pattern of society cannot be permitted to take such an argument.   In Daily Rated Casual Labour v. Union of India((1988) 1 SCC 122)    it has been held that the   daily rated casual labourers in P & T Department who were doing similar work as done by the regular workers of the department were entitled to minimum pay in the pay scale of the regular workers plus D.A. but without increments. Classification of employees into regular employees and casual employees for the purpose of payment of less than minimum pay is  violative of Articles 14 and 16 of the Constitution. It is also opposed to the spirit of Article 7 of the International Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights 1966. Although the directive principle contained in Articles 38 and 39 (d) is not enforceable by virtue of Article 37, but they may be relied upon by the petitioners to show that in the instant case they have  been subjected to hostile discrimination:   Denial of minimum pay amounts to exploitation of labour. The government can not take advantage of its dominant position. The government should be a model employer. In F.A.I.C. and C.E.S. v. Union of India   the Supreme Court has held that different pay scales can be fixed for government servants holding same post and performing similar work on the basis of difference in degree of responsibility, reliability and confidentiality, and as such it will not be violative of the principle of equal pay for equal work, implicit in Article 14. The Court said, Equal pay must depend upon the nature of the work done. It cannot be judged by the mere volume of work. There may be qualitative difference as regards reliability and responsibility. Functions may be the same but the responsibilities make a difference.   Equal pay for equal work is a concomitant of Article 14 of the Constitution. But it follows naturally that equal pay for unequal work will be a negation of the right . Accordingly, the court held that different pay scales fixed for Stenographers Grade I working in Central Secretariat and those attached to the heads of subordinate offices on the basis of recommendation of the Third Pay Commission was not violative of Article 14. Although the duties of the petitioners and respondents are identical, their functions are not identical. The Stenographers Grade I formed a distinguishable class as their duties and responsibilities are of much higher nature than that of the stenographers attached to the subordinate offices.   In Gopika Ranjan Chawdhary v. Union of India   the Armed Forces controlled by NEFA   were reorganized as a result of which a separate unit known as Central Record and Pay Accounts Office was created at the head quarters. The Third Pay Commission had recommended two different scales of pay for the ministerial staff, one attached to the headquarters and the other to the Battalions/units. The pay scales of the staff at the headquarters were higher than those of the staff attached to the Battalions/units. It was held that this was discriminatory and violative of Article 14 as there was no difference in the nature of the work, the duties and responsibilities of the staff working in the Battalions/units and those working at the headquarters. There was also no difference in the qualifications required for appointment in the two establishments. The services of the staff from Battalions/units are transferable to the Headquarters.   In Mewa Ram v. A.I.I. Medical Science   the Supreme Court has held that the doctrine of 'equal pay for equal work' is not an abstract doctrine. Equality must be among equals, unequals cannot claim equality. Even if the duties and functions are of similar nature but if the educational qualifications prescribed for the two posts are different and there is difference in measure of responsibilities, the principle of equal pay for equal work would not apply. Different treatment to persons belonging to the same class is permissible classification on the  basis of educational qualifications.   In State of Orissa v. Balaram Sahu   the respondents, who were daily wagers or casual workers in Rengali Power Project of State of Orissa in appeal claimed that they were entitled to equal pay on the same basis as paid to regular employees as they were discharging the same duties and functions. The Supreme Court held that they were not entitled for equal pay  with regularly employed permanent staff because their, duties and responsibilities were not similar to permanent employees. The duties and responsibilities of the regular and permanent employees were more onerous than that of the duties of. N.M.R. workers whose employment depends on the availability of the work. The Court held that although equal pay for equal work is a fundamental right under Article 14 of the Constitution but does not depend only on the nature or the volume of work but also on the qualitative difference as regards reliability and responsibility. Though the functions may be the same but the responsibilities do make a real and substantial difference. They have failed to prove the basis of their claim and in such situation to claim parity with pay amounts to negation of right of equality in Article 14 of the Constitution. However, the Court said that State has to ensure that minimum wages are  prescribed and the same is paid to them.   Article19(1)(c)     This Article speaks about the Fundamental right of citizen to form an associations and unions.. Under clause (4) of Article 19, however, the State may by law impose reasonable restrictions on this right in the interest of public order or morality or the sovereignty and integrity of India. The right of association pre-supposes organization. It as an organization or  permanent relationship between its members in matters of common concern. It thus includes the right to form companies, societies, partnership, trade union, and political parties. The right guaranteed is not merely the right to form association but also to continue with the association as such. The freedom to form association implies also the freedom to form or not to form, to join or not to join, an association or union.   In Damayanti v. Union of India  ,  The Supreme Court held that The right to form   an association , the Court said, necessarily 'implies that the person forming the association have also the right to continue to be associated with only those whom they voluntarily admit in the association. Any law by which members are introduced in the voluntary association without any option being given to the members to keep them out, or any law which takes away the membership of those who have voluntarily joined it, will be a law violating the right to form an association .   In Balakotiah v. Union of India   the services of the appellant were terminated under Railway Service Rules for his being a member of Communist Party and a trade unionist. The appellant contended that the termination from service amounted in substance to a denial to him the right to form association. The appellant had no doubt a fundamental right to from association but he had no fundamental right to be continued in the Government service. It was, therefore, held that the order terminating his services was not in contravention of Article 19(1 )(c) because the order did not prevent the appellant from continuing to be in Communist Party or trade unionist.. The right to form union does not carry with it the right to achieve every object. Thus the trade unions have no guaranteed right to an effective bargaining or right to strike or right to declare a lock out. Right to life, includes right to the means of livelihood which make it possible for a person to live.   Article 21   The sweep of the right to life, conferred by Article 21 is wide and far reaching. 'Life' means something more than mere animal existence. It does not mean merely that life cannot  be extinguished or taken away as, for example, by the imposition and execution of the  death sentence, except according to procedure established by law. That is but one aspect of the right to life. An equally important facet of that right is the right to livelihood because, no  person can live without the means of living, that is, the means of livelihood. If the right to livelihood is not treated as a part of the constitutional right to life, the easiest way of depriving a person of his right to life would be to deprive him of his means of livelihood to the point of abrogation. Such deprivation would not only denude the life of its effective content and meaningfulness but it would make life impossible to live. There is thus a close nexus between life and the means of livelihood and as such that, which alone makes it  possible to live, leave aside what makes life livable, must be deemed to be an integral component of the right of life.   In  Maneka Gandhi’s case  the Court gave a new dimension to Article 21. It held that the right to 'live' is not merely confined to physical existence but it includes within its ambit the right to live with human dignity. Elaborating the same view the Court in  Francis Coralie v. Union Territory of Delhi said that the right to live is not restricted to mere animal existence. It   means something more than just physical survival. The right to 'live' is not confined to the  protection of any faculty or limb through which life is enjoyed or the soul communicates with the outside world but it also includes the right to live with human dignity , and all that goes along with it, namely, the bare necessities of life such as, adequate nutrition, clothing and shelter and facilities for reading, writing and expressing ourselves in diverse forms, freely moving about and mixing and commingling with fellow human being. In State of    Maharashtra v. Chandrabhan  the Court struck down a provision of Bombay Civil Service Rules, 1959, which provided for payment of only a nominal subsistence allowance of Re. 1  per month to a suspended Government Servant upon his conviction during the pendency of his appeal as unconstitutional on the ground that it was violative of Article 21 of the Constitution.   In Olga Tellis v. Bombay Municipal Corporatio  n  popularly known as the 'pavement   dwellers case' a five judge bench of the Court has finally ruled that the word 'life' in Article 21 includes the 'right to livelihood' also. The court said: It does not mean merely that life cannot be extinguished or taken away as, for example, by the imposition and execution of death sentence, except according to procedure established by law. That is but one aspect of the right to life. An equally important facet of that right is the right to livelihood because no  person can live without the means of livelihood. If the right to livelihood is not treated as a  part of the constitutional right to life, the easiest ways of depriving a person of his right to life would be to deprive him of his means of livelihood. In view of the fact that Articles 39((a).and 41 require the State to secure to the citizen an adequate means of livelihood and the right to work, it would be sheer pedantry to exclude the right to livelihood from the content of the right to life.   In Delhi Development Horticulture Employee's Union v. Delhi Administration  ,the Supreme Court has held that daily wages workmen employed under the Jawahar Rozgar Yojna has no right of automatic regularization even though they have put in work for 240 or more days. The petitioners who were employed on daily wages in the Jawhar Rozgar Yojna filed a petition for their regular absorption as regular employees in the Development Department of the Delhi Administration. They contended that right to life, includes the right to livelihood and therefore, right to work. The Court held that although broadly interpreted and as a necessary logical corollary, the right to life would include the right to livelihood and therefore right to work but this country has so far not found feasible to incorporate the right
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