SC crticises Centre for not implementing laws on construction workers

The apex court was anguished that the Centre, which was authorised under the law to issue directions to state governments for the setting up of welfare boards, did not exersice its power, which created a roadblock for disbursal of the cess collected for the benefits of workers.

The court was hearing a PIL filed in 2006 alleging non-implementation of the Building and other Construction Workers (Regulations of Employment and Condition of Service) Act, 1996, and the Building and other Construction Workers Welfare Cess Act, 1996.

It expressed displeasure that despite its January 18, 2010, order, the Centre did not swung into action to ask the state governments to constitute welfare boards under the Construction Act, as a result of which the money collected under the Cess Act could not be passed to the boards.

"Even the preliminary step has not been taken under the Act. We also do not know why the Centre has not taken a step under section 60 of the Act (Building and other Construction Workers Act)".

"We, accordingly direct the Centre to call for necessary information from states and union territories and issue appropriate orders for the setting up of the welfare boards in terms of the order of January 18, 2010," a Bench comprising Chief Justice S H Kapadia and Justices K S Radhakrishnan and Swatanter Kumar said.

The Bench said the entire exercise has to be completed within two months and the Centre will have to furnish the status report in this regard.

The court said it was "unfortunate" that though the Centre was given power under the law to issue directions to the state governments and an order was passed by its Bench, the constitution of the welfare boards have not been taken till date.

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