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Delhi HC issues notice in plea alleging misappropriation of Rs 3,200 crore welfare fund for registered construction workers

Delhi High Court issues notice in Misappropriation in Welfare Fund for registered construction workers

Aditi Singh

The Delhi High Court today issued notice in a petition alleging misappropriation of welfare fund constituted for the benefit of construction workers under the Building & Other Construction Workers’ Welfare Cess Act, 1996. (Pt. Deendayal Upadhyay Smriti Sansthan vs NCT of Delhi)

Notice to the Delhi Government and Central Government was issued by Division Bench of Justice Vipin Sanghi and Rajnish Bhatnagar in a petition preferred by Pt. Deendayal Upadhyay Smriti Sansthan (Petitioner).

The Petitioner is a registered social organization which works towards securing the rights of migrant construction workers.

It is stated that Delhi has a "Cess Fund" to facilitate welfare scheme prescribed under the Building & Other Construction Workers Welfare Cess Act, 1996 and Delhi Rules 2002, which has a corpus of Rs 3,200 crore.

The Petitioner has stated during the lockdown announced to contain COVID-19, the Delhi Government had announced the payment of Rs 5,000 per month to all the registered construction workers.

However, when the volunteers of the Petitioner made enquires from the migrant construction workers, it was revealed that no such transfer of amount had been made by the Government.

Based on "discreet enquires" from several stakeholders, the Petitioner has asserted that there is rampant corruption in the registration process and bogus construction workers were being registered to misappropriate the Cess Fund which is exclusively for the construction workers.

".. it has been very shocking that the authorities/ Unions have registered lacs of non-construction workers (some of them rickshaw pullers, hawkers, factory workers, tailors, house wives etc.) as construction workers solely to illegally pilfer the cess funds which is exclusively collected for the welfare of genuine construction workers.", the Petition claims.

It is the Petitioner's grievance that although several criminal complaints have been made against dishonest government officials at Delhi Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board and other departments with respect to the irregularities and the connivance of some worker’s union and middlemen, nothing has been done to date.

The Petitioner has now prayed for an independent and impartial inquiry by the CBI into the misappropriation and misuse of the welfare fund collected for the welfare of construction workers.

Directions are also sought to audit the fund and to disburse amount to only genuine construction workers.

The petition was filed through Advocates Yogesh Pachauri and R Balaji.

Senior Advocate Siddharth Luthra appeared for the Petitioner.

The matter would be heard next on July 2.

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