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Policy decision taken by the State to allow certain industries to function during a Lockdown cannot be interfered under Article 226 unless it shown that such decision was absurd to the meanest mind – Madras HC

May 25, 2021

The Workmen of Renault-Nisan, Wipro Infrastructure & MRF filed Petitions before the Hon’ble Madras High Court challenging the decision of the State Government to allow the automobile industry to function during the lockdown. They contended that the safety or health of the workment cannot be compromised to keep the units functioning. While directing the employers to file their affidavits, the Hon’ble High Court made the following observations:

“5. Prima facie, it appears that a policy decision has been taken by the State to allow certain types of industries to function despite the strict lockdown imposed from last week. There is no doubt that due consideration would have gone into choosing which industries to exempt from the lockdown. There is also a presumption that the safety of the workmen at the relevant units would have been taken into account in arriving at the decision. However, at the end of the day, it is a policy decision and unless it is shown that such decision is absurd to the meanest mind, the Court in exercise of the authority under Article 226 of the Constitution may not seek to interfere in such a case,

6……..

7. It is hoped that the industries that have been exempted from the rigours of the lockdown take independent measures to ensure the well-being and safety of the employees required to attend the office or manufacturing units. The Covid protocol has to be maintained at all times. Transportation has to be arranged, not only for the direct employees, but also for the contract labourers and trainees and such others who are expected to attend the office or the manufacturing facilities. Distancing norms have always to be maintained even during the manufacturing operations. It is hoped that necessary steps in such regard are taken by the concerned employers and, in any event, the manufacturing activities restricted to such as may only be necessary to meet the commitments so that there may be less footfall in the offices and the manufacturing facilities”

Copies of the orders dated 17th & 24th May 2021 are attached. The matters will be listed on 31st May 2021.

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