Every law is enacted with some purpose. It helps to regulate and stimulate the growth of the society. However, sometimes the authorities concerned who enact a law and who are at the helm of affairs entrusted with the responsibility of implementing the law, remain dormant, thereby making the law a mere ornament in the showcase.
The Supreme Court of India, expressing serious concern over the plight of construction workers, on Monday, directed all states and the Union territories to file a status report on implementation of the Building and other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act and the Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Cess Act.
A Bench comprising Chief Justice K.G.Balakrishnan and Justices R.G.Raveendran and M.K.Sharma gave the direction, when the senior counsel Colin Gonsolves appearing for the petitioner National Campaign Committee for Central Legislation on Construction Labour, drew attention to the States’ response though notice was issued two years ago.He said that states had filed some sketchy affidavits without clearly indicating whether a one percent cess was collected from the construction industry or not. Though 12 years passed since the enactment of the law, nothing had been done by the states.
The Chief Justice questioned the Central Government advocate, ‘what is the purpose of such acts? Do the Government want to have only beautiful legislation and don’t want to implement them?’
Justice Raveendran suggested that the centre convene a meeting of all states for proper implementation, instead of leaving the matter to the court.
The petitioner said that the construction was the second largest industry in
The petitioner further said that there was an urgent need for adequate investment to improve working conditions mainly in terms of job security, safety, medical care and skill development schemes.A large number of workers were migrant, socially backward and illiterate with very low bargaining power.Though two pieces of legislation had been enacted for construction workers, nothing was done by the centre and the States and the Union territories. Further hearing is listed for August.
It is an irony that whenever the Supreme Court pulls up the Central or State Governments for dereliction of duty on their part, immediately there is a hue and cry about the Judicial activism or Judicial overreach.Authorities should realize that failure to do one’s own duty is dereliction of duty and when the Supreme Court does its own duty to point it out, the Supreme Court is only doing its own duty by rendering justice and it cannot be called as judicial activism or overreach.