Govt's apathy towards migrant workers unpardonable: SC

SC slams Centre over 'unpardonable' apathy on registering migrant workers

A survey by National Statistics Office in 2017-2018 stated that there were around 38 crore workers engaged in the unorganised sectors

Supreme Court of India. Credit: PTI File Photo

The Supreme Court on Tuesday slammed the Centre for its lackadaisical approach in developing a portal for registration of the unorganised or migrant workers, to allow them to reap benefits from various government schemes.

Giving the Centre a deadline of July 31 for it, a bench presided over by Justice Ashok Bhushan "strongly disapproved" non-action by the Ministry of Labour and Employment, saying their "apathy is unpardonable".

In a judgement in the Suo Motu matter related to migrant labourers, the court stressed that registration of the workers was "pivotal" and "most important" and only after that, states and the Centre will be able to extend the benefits of the welfare schemes to them.

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The unorganised workers constituted 94% of the work force. A survey by National Statistics Office (NSO) in 2017-2018 stated that there were around 38 crores workers engaged in the unorganised sectors, it noted.

"Unless the registration is complete, tall claims by all the States and Union that they have implemented various welfare schemes for the migrant workers and unorganised workers remain only on paper without giving any benefit to them," the bench said.

The court said there was urgency in the portal to be finalised and implemented looking at the Covid-19 pandemic and dire need of unorganised workers to receive the benefit.

"The attitude of Ministry of Labour and Employment in not completing the module even though directed as early as August 21, 2018 shows that Ministry is not alive to the concern of the migrant workers," the bench said.

The bench directed the secretary, Ministry of Labour and Employment to ensure that National Data Base for Unorganised Workers (NDUW) portal is finalised, and implementation of the portal commences on or before July 31.

The top court directed the Centre to develop the portal in consultation with National Informatics Centre (NIC) for registration of the unorganised labourers/migrant workers.

Karnataka government, for its part, said State Unorganised Workers Social Security Board was functioning under Labour Department in registering 11 categories of unorganised sector workers on web portal “ksuwssb.in”.

 

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