HC upholds Puducherry's contract labour orders

Last Updated: Thu, Sep 20, 2012 21:33 hrs

A division bench of the Madras High Court has upheld the decision of a single bench, dismissing a petition filed by an industrial forum from Karaikal, Puducherry, against the Puducherry government’s decision to do away with contract labour in certain segments of a few industries.

The Karaikal Industry Forum, which had appealed in the court against the government order, now plans to approach the Supreme Court for a stay on the order, according to sources close to the development.

The dispute started after the Puducherry government had, through an order issued in 2011, abolished contract labour in some processes in chemical, pharmaceutical bottle-making, granite-cutting and polishing industries. The state advisory committee of Puducherry had also recommended the prohibition of contract labour in certain segments of the metal industry.

Through separate orders, the government had prohibited contract labour in three processes — mixing, formulation and tableting — in pharmaceutical industries, non-metallic product industries, bottle-making industries and granite-cutting and polishing industries. It had also prohibited contract labour in six other processes, including raw material sieving, raw material handling and ball mill mixing.

The Karaikal Industry Forum argued the orders had been passed in a casual manner, without considering the relevant factors and details. It claimed there was no discussion and deliberation on the issue, just an omnibus notification.

The forum’s counsel stated occupational diseases were not a relevant consideration for issuing the notification. The counsel added there were enactments like the Employees State Insurance Act and the Factories Act which were earmarked to take care of these issues.

However, dismissing the appeal, the court stated, “The government did not issue an omnibus notification banning contract labour in all industries under a particular category or process. Rather, the government took into consideration the process and operation carried out in the particular type of industry. It also considered the fact that the types of processes identified were perennial in nature, with regard to the nature of the industry.”

There are about 50 companies in the industrial area of Karaikal, with the majority of these involved in iron castings— and metal-related production and the chemical industry.

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