India, with current working population of about 400 million, is probably most legislated country in the world. Yet majority of its workforce remain outside the purview of the protective legislation. This particularly so in the case of unorganised sector workers who constitute about 93 per cent of the Indian workforce. The initiative to extend legislative protection to the Indian workers begun as early as in 1930 following the Whitely Commission Report. Since then over 250 labour laws has been enacted by the Central and State governments. The laws cover verity of issues such as terms and conditions of service, industrial relations, wage bonus social security, occupational health and safety, etc. The responsibility to ensure judicious enforcement of laws rests with the executive while the judiciary interprets the laws and lays down the guidelines for effective enforcement of laws. Accordingly labour judiciary, high court, and supreme court pass judgements on the disputes relating to rights and interests. The Supreme Court’s pronouncement take the shape of laws, as according to the Article 141 of the Indian Constitution, such pronouncements are binding on all Courts within the territory of India. An exercise to compile various case laws was earlier undertaken by Friedrich Ebert Stiftung [India Office]. A the volume publication on Indian Labour Laws was brought out covering all the spheres of labour legislation. The publication was welcomed by trade unionists, labour lawyers, academic and government functionaries. It was probably the lone publication that had explanatory comments so as to make the same understandable by trade union functionaries also.Dr. Mishra’s book could be seen as a continuation of the FES exercise.
The book is a compilation of recent pronouncement of Supreme Court and high courts covering the Industrial Relations, Social Security, Contract Labour and Wages. The purpose. According to the author, is to remove doubts, disputes and reservations on the actual scope, content and application of the laws; vindication of the rights of the poor, deprived and disadvantaged; establish and reinforce balance between rights and obligations, accountability and discipline; and make aware the industry, workers and trade unions about guidelines issued by the Courts on sensitive issues such as sexual harassment, etc.The book is divided into thirteen chapters, each chapter covering case laws on specific labour laws, e.g Industrial Disputes Act, 1947; the Trade Union Act, 1926; Payment of Wages Act, 1936; Employees State Insurance Act, 1948; etc. The book will serve as an easy source of information on a selective basis and would impart correct understanding of the provisions of particular laws which inturn would help in striking a balance between rights and obligations.The compilation is done by Dr. Lakshmidhar Mishra, a retired officer of Indian Administrative Services. His thirty six years of work experience, majority of which was in the field of labour, is projected through clarity with which the book has been designed and edited.