The Supreme Court has directed Assam and three others states–Kerala, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal to make an interim payment of approximately Rs 127 crores to tea garden workers whose legal dues have remained unpaid for a period of fifteen years.
A bench comprising Justices SA Bobde and L Nageswar Rao passed the order in a contempt petition filed by the International Union of Food Association and the Paschim Banga Khet Mazdoor Samity.
The Bench also said that there should not be any further delay in making the payment while perceiving the difficulty of the workers who have been suffering for more than a decade due to non-payment of dues.
Senior advocate Colin Gonsalves represented the petitioner.
Over three lakh tea garden workers will be benefitted by the court’s’ order.
According to the figures submitted by the Centre, Assam topped the list in non-payment of dues which amounted to Rs. 249 crores followed by Tamil Nadu (70 crores), West Bengal (30 crores) and Kerala (27 crores).
The apex court has directed each State government to pay approximately half of the dues accrued to the workers within a period of 60 days.
The Court has also directed the officials of all the companies who were running the tea estates to appear before the court on the next date of hearing.