In the instant petition, the order passed by Deputy Labour Commissioner, Authority under the Minimum Wages Act, 1948 wherein the Petitioner’s claim u/s 20 of the Minimum Wages Act was dismissed on the ground that it was barred by limitation.
The order passed by the Authority was set aside by the High Court of Delhi as in their opinion there was sufficient cause to condone the delay.
The Petitioner was working as a security guard who was appointed by a Contractor(Respondent No.2).
It is alleged that the contractor did not pay the minimum wage to the Petitioner for various periods from 1 st July 2015 to 1 st October, then from 2015, 1st November 2015 to 31st March 2016 and 1st April 2016 to 1st July 2018.
A suit was instituted against the Contractor/ Respondent No.2 on 27.06.2020 along with the application for the delay.
However, the Authority held that no sufficient cause existed for the condonation of delay in filing for claims u/s 20 of the Minimum Wages Act and the application was dismissed as barred by limitation.
The Authority has erred completely.
Learned Counsel for the Petitioner argued that the Authority had entirely erred in dismissing the claim on the ground of delay as the delay can always be condoned if sufficient cause is shown as per Section 20(2) of the Act. Reliance was placed on Sarpanch, Lonand Grampanchayat vs Ramgiri Gosavi & Anr.
Claim should be restricted to a period of three years:
Counsel for the respondents argued that even if the delay is condonable, the claim should be restricted for three years.
Lack of Funds is a Sufficient Cause for Condonation of Delay
After perusing the Section 20 of the Act, the Court observed that as per the first proviso the application should be filed within six months from the date when the minimum wages became payable, but as per the second proviso, even after the expiry of the said period, the delay can be condoned if there is sufficient cause.
It was further observed that in the impugned order, there was no discussion as to if there was a sufficient cause for delay.
The Court also noted that the Petitioner was from an impoverished background, and it would have been difficult for him to engage a lawyer and pay his fees. So, the shortage of funds can also be considered as a sufficient cause of delay.
The order passed by the Authority was set aside by the Court, and the Authority was directed to consider whether the delay is condonable in accordance with the settled legal position and if not, whether the claim needs to be restricted to any specific period.
Title: RAJENDER KUMAR versus DY. LABOUR COMMISSIONER & ANR.
Case No. W.P.(C) 4534/2020 & CM APPL. 16361/2020
Date of Order:09.11.2020
Coram: Hon’ble Justice Pratibha M. Singh