Delhi High Court directs AAP govt's workers welfare board to implement orders
The Delhi High Court Wednesday directed the AAP government's Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare
New Delhi: The Delhi High Court Wednesday directed the AAP government's Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare (BOCWW) Board to implement its orders with regard to registration and membership renewal of labourers and expressed hope that there would be a change in the approach and attitude of authorities.
It was contended that only a small section out of the over 10 lakh workers in the city are registered under the laws regulating their welfare and service conditions and thus, a huge chunk of the labourers are not getting benefits actually meant for them. A bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rajnish Bhatnagar asked the Delhi government to examine the aspects raised and file a status report and listed the matter for further hearing on December 15. It noted that several orders passed by the court have still not been implemented by the authorities. "We hope and expect that our orders are being implemented before the next date. We are inclined to grant time in view of the fact that the Deputy Chief Minister is now taken over as the concerned minister and we are hopeful that there would be a change in the approach and attitude of respondents in so far as implementation of orders of this court are concerned," the bench said.
The order came after the court was informed by the counsel for intervenors and petitioner that the directions with regard to the process of registration and renewal of registration, were not being complied with and submitted a note relating to the issues being encountered on account of varied reasons. The court was hearing a PIL by social activist Sunil Kumar Aledia seeking registration of all construction workers here under the BOCWW Act so that they can get the benefit of the relief package/ex-gratia of Rs 5,000 per month being provided to each labourer during the lockdown. During the hearing, advocate Shyel Trehan, appearing for intervenor, submitted that the problem that the workers were not being attended by the SDMs despite communications being sent by the authorities, remains even now. On this aspect, Delhi government counsel Sanjoy Ghose said that there is a change of approach in the government and the process of registration or renewal under the Act is being covered by the door steps services offered by the government.
He said sahayak/ facilitator will access workers to register / renew the registration at their place of residence which would ease the problems faced by the construction workers. The bench said, "We are little unclear as to who the construction workers would have access to the facilitators/ sahayak. We expect the respondent board to evolve a more concrete and workable solution in this regard and state the position before us before the next date." Trehan submitted that the authorities are seeking to link the process of registration/ renewal with the UIDAI records and her apprehension is that it will make it very difficult to even submit the forms in case they receive a minor discrepancy in the particulars entered while submitting the form and obtaining the Aadhaar card.
To this, Ghose submitted that it is essential to maintain transparency and for this, the Aadhaar card of a worker is being linked with his registration/ renewal with the board. The bench agreed with the government counsel that the Aadhaar card of the construction workers should be linked with the records of the board. "However, it is necessary for the board to evolve the system where the said process of registration / renewal is not stumped at the threshold itself merely because there is some discrepancy in the information as furnished by the applicant with the board as compared to the information furnished while obtaining the Aadhaar card," it said. It said it is well known that the details of birth are not correctly recorded in rural areas even in present times. The applicant may have furnished a date of birth while getting the Aadhaar card made and may not remember it and furnish a slightly different date of birth at the time of applying for registration with the board or renewal of registration, it said.
The bench said such discrepancies are left to be resolved only through mechanical means such as a computer and it is bound to lead to difficulties and human intervention would be necessary before such applications are rejected. "We are, therefore, of the view that applications which may present such discrepancies should not be rejected at the threshold and it should be possible for the applicant to submit the applications and the differences can be resolved through human intervention upon the concerned authorities being satisfied that the discrepancy is not major and only a minor one. The court has been issuing directions from time to time in the matter with regard to streamlining the registration and renewal process so that the workers can get the benefit of the ex-gratia offered by the Delhi government during the lockdown. One of the directions was to carry out verification of labourers, for registration or its renewal, via video calls and to seek their physical presence only where that is not possible.