Describing the plight of the Commonwealth Games workers as a “complex human problem” arising from flouting of welfare provisions bound by law, the Delhi High Court on Wednesday drafted a five-point directive for the Delhi government along with other authorities and ordered for their time-bound execution.
The court, for the first time since the petition was taken up in January, also asked the government to draft an education scheme for the workers’ children, noting that illiteracy was the root of problems relating to their welfare.
A Division Bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Madan B Lokur decided to draw up rules for the authorities after observing that while registration of workers might have been in the process, there were thousands left.
“A complex human problem…travelled to the court pursuant to non-compliance with labour laws. There is a thin line between work and hunger. And a man in despair, unless compelled, does not complain,” observed the Bench.
The first directive to the Delhi government and agencies like the MCD, NDMC, DDA, DMRC, DIAL, PWD and CPWD, was to make “all possible” effort to register the maximum number of workers so that they were not deprived of statutory benefits. In its second point, the Bench held that providing identity cards was a must as it was also a way to avoid future unwarranted litigation.
“Passbooks (a booklet for registered workers carrying benefits like loan, insurance and medical cover among others) should also be given to all workers and the Labour department should monitor this. They must ensure that people working in this weather have food, clothing and shelter and live with dignity,” said the Bench.
The fourth directive regarding education for workers’ children came as the court took into account the widespread illiteracy among workers. After the government’s standing counsel Najmi Waziri apprised the Bench of its awareness drives, Justice Misra noted that the education level of the workers was such that they could not be expected to come forward to get registered and avail the welfare schemes. “An education scheme must be drafted. Their children must get education as illiteracy is the cause of several problems,” said Justice Misra.
The fifth directive asked the authorities to ensure medical facilities, along with benefits relating to maternity, death, accidents and insurance, after framing guidelines. The authorities have been asked to submit a report on their responses to the directives in the next month.
A report by the Monitoring Committee, appointed in accordance with the court directive in March, had revealed that 43 workers had died at Games construction sites, while thousands of others were deprived of minimum wages and other entitlements. The court had then asked the authorities to ensure compliance with the provisions relating to labour laws.
1 Register maximum workers 2 Providing identity cards to aviod legal complications later 3 Passbooks for registered workers, with Labour dept’s supervision4 Education for workers’ children5 Medical and other benefits for registered workers