Libertatem Magazine

Delhi High Court Directs Chief Secretary to Frame Scheme Incorporating Structured Response for ‘Home-Based,’ ‘Self-Employed’ & ‘Unorganised’ Workers

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The petition was filed seeking directions to the respondents to fulfil its obligations under The Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979 and to pay monies under the Income Transfer Scheme to all the migrant workers of NCT Delhi.

Arguments before the Court

The counsel for the petitioner relied mainly on the Directive Principles of State Policy as enshrined in the Indian Constitution and submitted that the Respondents are bound to protect the welfare of the citizens, especially the working class under Article 43 of the Indian Constitution. He further stated that under the Disaster Management Act, 2005, various Central and State funds have been created and the Respondents can make use of these funds to make sure that the migrant workers are taken care of. He also emphasized that the Respondents have not been able to formulate any plan for setting up a database of the migrant workers even after the first wave of the pandemic and thus have been unable to reach out to all the workers and their families.

On the other hand, the counsel for the respondent Mr. Gautam Narayan stated that the State Government is taking several steps to ameliorate the condition of the migrant workmen as well as those working in the unorganised sector. He further stated that provisions for free food, shelter and medical care have been made. He emphasised that ₹98,96,70,000/- has been disbursed to 2,10,684 workers under an order dated 20.04.2021 passed by the Chief Secretary under the Disaster Management Act, 2005.

Court’s Observation

Based on the contentions of both the parties the Court believed that in view of the magnitude of the pandemic, a structured response by the administration was required to ensure that the marginalised sections of the society are given adequate relief. The Court also observed that the counsel for the petitioner stated that the steps mentioned in the order dated 20.04.2021 of Govt. of NCT Delhi are specifically restricted and related to the workers under The Building and Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996. He contended that till date, there is no scheme to give benefit to the workers under The Unorganised Workers’ Social Security Act, 2008. He also emphasised that there is no database to identify and locate the migrant workers in NCT Delhi.

Court’s Decision

The Court directed that the present writ petition would be treated as a representation to the Chief Secretary, Government of NCT of Delhi. He was directed to frame a Scheme incorporating a structured response for the ‘unorganised worker’, ‘self-employed worker’ and ‘home-based worker’, as defined under The Unorganised Workers’ Social Security Act, 2008, within two weeks. The Chief Secretary shall keep in mind the prayers in the present writ petition, including the prayer for payment of ex gratia amount to the unorganised workers and the migrant workers while framing the scheme. The Court stated that the Chief Secretary shall also ensure that the registration process under S.10 of The Unorganised Workers Social Security Act, 2008 is simplified and implemented at the ground level. 

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