The Boards are Obliged to Encourage the Construction Workers to Register for Ex Gratia Relief Granted by the State: Delhi High Court

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The Petitioner is a social activist who has filed this PIL. He seeks directions from the Court for the construction workers who are denied their social welfare schemes.

The Petitioner seeks implementation of the Building and Construction Workers under the Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service Act and also the Building and Construction Workers Welfare Cess Act.

Arguments by the Parties

The learned senior counsel for the Petitioner points out that as per the status report, a sum of Rs. 5,000/- was transferred through the Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT). It was transferred to 32,358 live registered construction workers as on 24.03.2020.

The report also disclosed another set of 7,242 applicants. These applicants were eligible but the registration of the application was found to be pending. Granted after that, was Rs 5,000/- to those said 7,242 construction workers. They were also granted ex gratia relief through DBT on 09.04.2020. A total of 19.08 crores has been spent in the disbursal.

The Petitioner stated that all registered construction workers stood at 5,39,421. This was in Delhi as of 30.09.2018. He submitted that most of them did not renew their registration. Hence, there was a denial of the credit of ex gratia payment.

There was a disbursement of a further amount of Rs.5,000/- to all the registered 39,600 construction workers. 7,000 employers were communicated but only 242 responded.

Advocate Trehan for the intervener submitted that the process of online renewal of registration is in English. It makes it cumbersome for the construction workers.

Observation of the Courts

The Court observed that only a fraction of the registered construction workers were able to avail of the ex gratia relief. It is because they have not renewed their registration.

The Court held that this is not a satisfactory state of affairs. The obligation of the Respondents was to take adequate steps to encourage them to renew their registration. This has been the intended benefit.

The Court held it was essential to register. The workers who did not renew their registrations should send out appropriate communication. It should be through SMS.

It should also inform them of the decision of the Government. A decision to make ex gratia direct transfers to their registered accounts. They should also be aware of how they can renew their registration.

The Court suggested the Petitioner and the intervener co-ordinate with the Respondent. It was in the formulation of the message to send through SMS.

The Court also noted that the website of the Board is in the English language. It hoped that the site would be bilingual.

Court’s Decision

The division bench of Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Rajnish Bhatnagar presided over the matter. The bench directed the Respondent Board to communicate the same across all the construction workers whose registration have lapsed. The Court advised the SMS to be in the Hindi language. It directed the Respondent to do this within four days of the Order.

The Court also directed the Board to send reminders to the employers who have not responded. They should inform that their continued default would attract a penalty or prosecution under the law.

The Court gave directions to the Delhi State Legal Services Authority (DSLA) to ensure that the same should carry out without any delay.


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