‘Can govt. grant exemption to all factories from law extending working hours?’

The Karnataka High Court has directed the State government to explain if it can grant to all factories exemptions from the provisions of the Factories Act allowing the factories to extend working hours for employees.

Also, the court directed the State government to produce the official file related to decision taken for granting exemptions to the factories.

A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum issued directions on a PIL petition filed by Maruthi S. The petitioner challenged the May 22, 2020, notification issued by the government granting exemption to factories.

Section 5 of the Factories Act, 1948, states that government, during “public emergency”, can exempt any factory or class or description of factories, and prima facie Section 5 does not contemplate granting of blanket exemption to all factories, the Bench observed.

The Bench also asked the government to justify that there exists public emergency. As per the Act, “public emergency” means a grave emergency whereby the security of India or of any part of the territory thereof is threatened, whether by war or external aggression of internal disturbance.

The court also observed that no condition or direction under the Factories Act appears to have imposed on factories to ensure that they follow norms of COVID-19 like wearing masks and gloves, using sanitiser, social distancing, etc.

The petitioner pointed out to the court that the Rajasthan government had imposed several conditions on factories and the Gujarat government had ordered that no factories could force workers to work beyond six hours continuously, and if such need arises, a break of minimum 30 minutes will have to be provided.

The Bench said that it will consider the plea of the petitioner to stay the May 22 notification on June 5 after the State government responds to the court‘s queries and the contentions of the petitioner.

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Printable version | Jul 3, 2020 3:59:48 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/can-govt-grant-exemption-to-all-factories-from-law-extending-working-hours/article31705016.ece

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