New Delhi: State-run ONGC has approached the Supreme Court, seeking exemption from making contribution toward the Maharashtra labour welfare fund.
A bench comprising Arijit Passayat and Justice L.S. Panta, after hearing the preliminary arguments, issued notices to the state, Maharashtra Labour Welfare Board and its welfare commissioner and additional collector of Mumbai.
Senior counsels Ashok Desai and Sunil Jain, appearing for ONGC, argued that the public sector undertaking was exempted from the applicability of the provisions of the Bombay Shops and Establishment Act, 1948 as it was carrying on its mining activities in the ocean and as such was outside the purview of the Bombay Labour Welfare Fund.
Besides, it spent huge money on providing enormous sports, cultural and welfare activities for its employees, the oil PSU stated, adding its activities were better than those provided under the Bombay Labour Welfare Act, 1953.
ONGC had challenged the validity of show cause notices issued by the Regional Labour Commissioner, Mumbai, before the Bombay High Court in respect of its Mumbai High Offshore operations situated beyond territorial waters of India -- 12 nautical miles, where labour laws were not applicable.
However, the High Court had rejected its contentions while observing that the purpose of welfare fund was not only to give benefits to its own employees but to provide benefits to all employees in the state in general, who come under the provisions of the Labour Welfare Act.
ONGC had moved the High court challenging the Maharashtra Labour Welfare Board’s notices demanding welfare fund to the tune of more than Rs16 lakh for the period between June 1971 and June 1993 on the basis of 10,000 employees working in its units in the state.