Senior Congress leader Vilasrao Deshmukh, who took charge today as the Union rural development minister, said he would look into the controversy over delinking the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (NREGA), the government’s largest rural employment programme, from the Minimum Wages Act.
“I have to go into the matter, as I am not aware of the ministry’s position and the court rulings in the matter so far,” he said.
Yesterday, former Supreme Court Chief Justice J S Verma called delinking of the works programme from the Minimum Wages Act as unconstitutional and illegal, adding the apex court should take suo motu cognisance of the violation of multiple provisions of the Constutution by the government and defiance of court orders to delink NREGA wages from the Act.
He said protests and struggle were the only ways out when the government itself was going against the Constitution. Referring to the Prime Minister’s recent decision to delink the NREGA wages from the wages Act, he said it was not a matter for debate at all.
Speaking at a seminar on minimum wages for the unorganised sector here, Verma said those who had taken an oath were duty-bound to go by the Constitution and laws of the land, and the rest by virtue of being citizens were also bound by their fundamental duties.
Former rural development minister C P Joshi had been saying that NREGA did not have to go by the Minimum Wages Act. He told Business Standard recently that the demand for minimum wages were being made as part of an agenda by communist parties which wanted to keep wages low. “Why do you want minimum wages when people are getting much better than that?” he had asked.