Co-operative societies are covered by the Minimum Wages Act, 1948, and the fact that they are exempted by a notification of 1979 “is not absolute”, the Madras High Court has held.
On the contrary, the said notification applied to provisions of Sections 31, 41, 43, 50 and 51 of the Co-operative Societies Act, Mr Justice K. Chandru ruled. The power to exempt co-operative societies under the Act was exercised under Section 6, which itself showed that the society was a commercial establishment, without which no such exemption was necessary.
The Supreme Court, the Judge noted, vide its judgment in the State of Tamil Nadu vs K. Sabanayagam [reported in Jt 1997 (9) SC 316] held that if an employer sought exemption from provisions of an Act that itself would indicate that the Act would apply. Therefore, the said objection must fail.
Dismissing a writ petition by S. Attayampatty Peramanur Primary Agricultural Co-op Bank, Salem District, challenging the order dated July 24, 2000 of the Deputy Commissioner of Labour, Salem (R-1), who was the Minimum Wages Authority, computing the minimum wages paid by the petitioner to its employees, the Judge referred to the contention of the petitioner that they were paying more wages than the statutory minimum wages fixed and said it could not be accepted because such a contention was not raised before the authority under the Act. This Court was not inclined to entertain such objection.
Though it was contended, the Judge ruled, that co-operative societies were exempted from provisions of TN Shops and Establishments Act, the said contention would have no relevance as the fixation of minimum wages was under the Minimum Wages Act, and that the Act did not exempt co-operatives from its provisions. The authority also found that the petitioner establishment was also a ‘shop’ under the Minimum Wages Act.
Even though in the impugned order names of 5 persons, who were working in the different societies were furnished, for reasons best known, the petitioner did not make them as parties to the writ petition. The writ petition was liable to be rejected solely on that ground, the Judge held.
The case filed by R-2 (Asst. Inspector of Labour, Salem 1) was that he inspected the petitioner establishment on December 24,1999 and found that the employees were paid less than the minimum rates of wages fixed by the Government in GO dated January 4, 1995 for the period June 1,1999 to November 30, 1999. The petitioner-society contended that they were paying wages according to the instructions received from the Registrar of Co-op Societies.
In the light of the above, the writ petition stood dismissed.