Shimla (Sept 29): Himachal Pradesh High Court today took to task the government machinery and functionaries for “non-serious and slack implementation of labour laws” in the state and issued a series of directions to various government and enforcement agencies for proper implementation of 25 Central Acts and 2 state Acts for the welfare of labour class. The orders were passed on two PILs taken up suo motu by the court on violation of labour laws in the state.
As it was brought to the notice of the court by the additional chief secretary that proposal for increasing the minimum wages from Rs 110 to Rs 120 is underway, the division bench comprising Chief Justice Kurian Joseph and Justice Rajiv Sharma directed the additional chief secretary to file affidavit as to going by the price index, as compared to the minimum wages fixed in and around northern states, whether Rs 120 is the fair or reasonable wage and to state as to what is the last date of notification of minimum wages in the state in respect of all classes of establishments.
The court also directed the secretary, HP Building & Other Construction Workers’ Welfare Board to file and affidavit as to how many meeting have been held and what is the exact expenditure involved so far as salary, remuneration and other expenses for the meetings and travel of the chairman and members of the board. The Court also expressed shock on noting that there are 499 establishments covered under the Board and 2013 beneficiaries registered and during last 1 year, Rs 88.25 crore collected by way of cess for welfare measures, but only three people benefited, that too to the tune of Rs 2,200 only.
The court observed that the System in the state are not taking proactive and sensitized role in implementation of welfare schemes, which is evident from the fact that out of lakhs of workers, only 2,013 are registered beneficiaries. The court said that the labour officers who have collected the above huge amount should not act as mere collection agents and should play pro-active role in getting the labour registered under various labour welfare schemes.
The HC also took note of the fact that there are only 12 labour officers and 26 labour inspectors, while there is only one vehicle for labour commissioner, 2 pool vehicles at the HQ, while the chairman of Welfare Board has one vehicle for implementation of labour laws and schemes in 4,108 factories, 6,6827 shops and commercial establishments around the state. The Court directed that the Welfare Board in next meeting shall consider as to whether at least one vehicle can be provided in each district (zone) for use of labour officers and inspectors. It also directed the Board to take help and cooperation of the District Legal Services Authorities and the State Legal Service Authority and well meaning NGOs in this regard and the meeting be convened positively within a month.
The court also observed that the picture in HP as far as implementation of provisions under EPF and MP Act, 1952, and the schemes under the Act is not satisfactory, if not unsatisfactory. There are only 2 regional PF commissioners, 4 asstt. PF commissioners and 6 enforcement officers in the state, whereas only one staff car is provided to them for covering the whole state. The HC directed the Central PF Commissioner, Delhi to consider whether it is not required to provide at least one vehicle each for the asstt. PF commissioner and one each for enforcement officer. The court also directed the Central PF Commissioner to file affidavit regarding requirements, need and availability of infrastructural facilities available under EPF & MP Act.