The Supreme Court on February 7 ordered to pay Rs 650 crores towards dues of 28,556 workers of 25 tea gardens in the state of Assam including 15 gardens owned by the Assam government-owned Assam Tea Company Limited (ATCL).
A bench of justices MR Shah and CT Ravi Kumar accepted the report which was submitted by Retired Justice Abhay Manohar Sapre with respect to the state of Assam in the case demanding proper dues to tea garden workers.
''We accept the report submitted by committees consisting of Justice Sapre so far as the amount payable to workers, public staff, and sub-staff of the tea gardens run by ATCL of the Assam Government and private tea gardens in the state of Assam. We direct that the amount payable as per the committee's report be paid to the concerned staff within the time stipulated by the committee and on due proper identification,'' the bench said.
It is worth mentioning that Sapre committee was constituted by the apex court via its order dated January 10, 2020, to ensure the dues of the tea garden workers are properly calculated and paid to them.
The committee in its report said that Rs 414.7 crores is the total amount of various dues payable to the 28, 556 workers of 25 tea gardens in the state of Assam, and Rs 230.7 crores is the total payable to the provident Fund department.
In 2018, under the direction of the top court, the state government had made a payment of Rs 99 crore to the respective workers. The report further said that the state can recover this amount from ATCL.
However, Senior Advocate Sanjit Kumar, appearing for the State of Assam objected to the report and amount payable with respect to the 7th pay commission recommendation.
On the other hand, Advocate Gaurav Agarwal appearing for the committee pointed out that in its earlier order dated 19 May 2022, it had specifically dealt with the same issue of arrears of liability as per the 7th pay commission recommendation.
During the hearing, Kumar urged the court to grant a week more to file an affidavit in the matter.
''Now Justice Sapre committee has given its report, Now you deposit the amount as one has to respect the painstaking efforts taken by Justice Sapre,'' the Bench said.
The bench further added that previously when the matter was taken up, it had adjourned the case by a week at the state's request.
Following the court's argument, Kumar then argued that the state of Assam had objected to the application of the 7th pay commission's recommendation on the computation of dues for workers of the ATCL.
The committee said that the pending dues have to commute as per the 7th pay commission-workers, staff, and sub-staff are all included in this.
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