The Supreme Court of India on March 19, 2018 directed the Union Government to frame a model scheme to address issues concerning the welfare of construction workers including education, health, social security and pension within six months, by September 30.
The ruling was passed by a bench of Justices comprising M B Lokur and Deepak Gupta, who stated that the construction workers do not just build infrastructure but also the nation.
The model scheme is expected to include the issues and concerns of education, health, social security, old age and disability pension and other benefits that are necessary for living a life of dignity as mandated by the Constitution of India.
The court stated that it expects the model scheme to be framed and publicised within a specified time-frame to be decided by the Ministry of Labour and Employment, preferably within six months, on or before September 30, 2018.
• The bench said that more than Rs 37,400 crore have been collected for the benefit of construction workers, but apparently only about Rs. 9,500 crores have been utilised for their benefit.
• It questioned as to why millions of construction workers across the country are being denied the benefit of remaining Rs 28,000 crore.
• It further directed all the state governments and union territories to constitute an expert committee and frame statutory rules under provisions of the BOCW Act within a period of six months.
• The bench also said that the directions given by the court from time-to-time to implement the two laws – the Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996 (BOCW Act) and the Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Cess Act, 1996, (Cess Act) -have been openly disregarded.
The act is a welfare legislation intended and enacted for the benefit of the unorganised sector of building and construction workers.
Through the act, the Parliament aims to ensure that building and construction workers are not exploited because of their poverty and their children do not suffer their fate in terms of education, healthy living and whatever it takes to live a life of dignity.
The Supreme Court has posted the matter for further hearing on May 1, in order to ascertain whether timelines have been fixed by the concerned authorities for compliance of the directions.