India: Non-payment Of Minimum Wages Termed As Unconscionable And Unpardonable By The Delhi High Court

Last Updated: 13 March 2018
Article by S.S. Rana & Co. Advocates


The Minimum Wages Act, 1948, primarily safeguards the interest of workers in unorganized sector and sets out the minimum wages that must be paid to skilled, semi-skilled, as well as unskilled labours. A minimum wage not only guarantees bare subsistence and preserves efficiency, but also provides for education, medical requirements and some level of comfort too.

Payment of wages below the minimum wage rate amounts to forced labour.

Non-payment of Minimum Wages

The Delhi High Court vide its order dated November 2, 2017 in the matter of Central Secretariat Club vs Geetam Singh1, termed nonpayment of minimum wages as "unconscionable and unpardonable". The Hon'ble Court moreover drew attention on the necessity of payment of minimum wages and stated that payment of minimum wages is an essential characteristic of humanity. Further, calling nonpayment of wages as an inhuman act, the Hon'ble Court stated, "Extraction of labor without payment of minimum wages, per corollary, would reflect an attitude which is inhuman".

The Hon'ble High Court also stated that minimum wages are the basic entitlement of the workman, and an industry which employs workmen without paying them their minimum wages has no right to continue. The Hon'ble High Court made these observations while allowing a plea by a gardener against his employer, Central Secretariat Club, on the issue of non-payment of wages.

The said order was pronounced by the Hon'ble Court as it allowed the petition of a gardener, Geetam Singh and dismissed the plea of his employer, the Central Secretariat Club. Brief facts of the case are as follows:-

  • Mr. Geetam Singh registered a claim under the Industrial Disputes Act alleging that he was being paid less than what was the minimum wages payable to him under the Minimum Wages Act, 1948 by the Central Secretariat Club.
  • The Petition before the Court involved the management of the Central Secretariat Club challenging an award passed in July, 2004 by the Labour Court, wherein the Club was directed to pay Mr. Geetam Singh (workman) for a period of three years during which he worked with the Club i.e. September 13, 1989 till September 30, 1995.
  • The management of the Club took the stand that the Club was not liable to pay Mr. Singh as per the Minimum Wages Act, 1948 because it was not an "industry" under the Industrial Disputes Act.  The Labour Court rejected the Club's argument by relying on Justice Krishna Iyer's stand on the Constitution Bench of the Supreme Court in case of Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board v. R. Rajappa,2 wherein it was held that clubs were also industries.
  • The Hon'ble High Court stated that a reading of the Bangalore Water Supply judgment makes it clear that the applicability of the Act was exempted only in a case in which the enterprise was clearly charitable in nature, without any financial transaction being involved. As the Club did charge subscription from its members, no error can be discerned, in the finding of the Labour Court and thus, the club was an 'industry' within the meaning of the Act.
  • The Hon'ble High Court noted that non-payment of minimum wages, to a workman is, therefore, unconscionable and unpardonable in law as it strikes at the very root of our constitutional framework. Minimum wages are the basic entitlement of the workman and an industry which employs workmen without paying them minimum wages constitutes a criminal offence for which punitive sanctions are provided in Section 22 of the Minimum Wages Act, 1948.
  • The Hon'ble High Court directed the Club to pay the difference in payment between the wages paid and the minimum wages payable to Mr. Singh under the Industrial Disputes Act, 1947 from September 1, 1989 to September 30, 1992, in addition to the amount awarded earlier by the Labour Court.
  • The Court also directed the Club to pay INR. 50,000/- cost for not complying with the Labour Court's order passed earlier, vide the order they had directed the Club to pay INR. 15,240/- to Mr. Singh for the period between October, 1992 and September, 1995.
  • The Hon'ble Court said the total amount to be paid with an interest @12% per annum from the date of award, July 16, 2004, till the date of paying him and directed that the payment be made within four (4) weeks.

The Hon'ble Court also stated that non-payment of minimum wages or reluctance on part of the employer in paying the minimum wage is not only illegal, inhuman and immoral, but also attracts criminal liability on the head of the employer.


1 W.P (C) No. 17474/ 2004 and CM APP No. 13101/ 20014

2 (1978) 3 SCC 297

For further information please contact at S.S Rana & Co. email: or call at (+91- 11 4012 3000). Our website can be accessed at

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Related Topics
Related Articles
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions