Sunday, June 4, 2023

Delhi HC Orders Ex-Gratia Amounts Be Paid To All Construction Workers

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The Delhi High Court on Wednesday has directed the Government of NCT of Delhi and Delhi Building and others Construction Welfare Board to disburse the ex gratia amounts, as disbursed since March, 2020 even to those registrants, whose registration may have lapsed, but are subsequently renewed by the Board after due verification. 

The court made a remark that “Construction workers whose registration may have lapsed, and are subsequently renewed, would be in the same position as those whose registrations were valid, and to whom the said ex gratia payments have been disbursed since March, 2020”.

The Court was of the view that in view of the prevailing lockdown and, since the print media is practicably out of action, it is essential that all the earlier registered construction workers, which were 5,39,421 as on 30.09.2018 (and others too may have registered thereafter) minus those whose registrations are now live, should be sent out appropriate communication through SMS on their registered mobile numbers – informing them of the decision of the Government to make ex gratia direct transfers to their registered accounts, and they should also be informed of the manner in which they could renew their registration.

“Whatever certifications are required of them under Section 14 of the The Building and Other Construction Workers’ (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996, should also be communicated to the workers. They should also be informed of the renewal fee that they would need to deposit, and the manner in which the said deposit/ transfer could be made by them, including through electronic mode”, directed by the court.

The Division bench of Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Rajnish Bhatnagar heard the writ petition, whereby the Advocates Sanjoy Ghose with Urvi Mohan appeared on behalf of the respondent Government of NCT of Delhi.

The petitioner sought direction to the respondents to ensure that all the construction workers whose names have been filed by construction companies and/or employers with the Labour Department are promptly registered as beneficiaries under THE BUILDING AND OTHER CONSTRUCTION WORKERS (REGULATION OF EMPLOYMENT AND CONDITIONS OF SERVICE) ACT 1996, and that all mandated benefits be provided to them (including DTB transfers).

Learned senior counsel for the petitioner pointed out that as per the status report filed by the respondent Delhi Building & other Construction Workers Welfare Board, a sum of Rs. 5,000/- was initially transferred through Direct Benefit Transfer (DBT) to 32,358 live registered construction workers as on 24.03.2020 through DBT. The report also discloses that another set of 7,242 applicants, whose applications were pending registration, were found eligible. Thereafter, a second proposal for granting Rs5,000/- to each of the said 7,242 construction workers was moved, and they were also granted ex gratia relief through DBT on 09.04.2020. He further added that there were 5,39,421 registered construction workers, most of them did not renew their registration and, consequently, they have been denied the credit of ex gratia payment of the aforesaid amounts.

The High Court had asked learned senior counsel Mr. Nandrajog appeared on behalf of the petitioner and Mr. Trehan, an intervenor to co-ordinate with Mr. Ghose, counsel for GNCTD in the formulation of the message to be sent through SMS, on construction workers registered mobile numbers, informing them of the decision of the Government to make ex gratia direct transfers to their registered accounts, and they should also be informed of the manner in which they could renew their registration.

Learned counsel for GNCTD, Mr. Ghose had informed the court that for the purpose of verification, communications have been addressed to about 7,000/- employers, out of whom only 242 have responded. On which, the High Court directed that the Board should send reminders to those employers who have not responded, informing them that their continued default would be on the pain of penalty/ prosecution, as provided by the law. 

“The employers to whom reminders are issued to seek information from them, should co-operate and provide the requisite information that they are obliged to provide to the Board. The employers should be made aware of this direction of ours. We are hopeful that the Board would make its website bilingual, so that the applicants are able to receive and provide the information in Hindi language as well,” said by the court.

Read the order here;


-India Legal Bureau

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