Rashid Paul

HC drops contempt proceedings against J&K CS in unorganized sector workers’ registration case

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Srinagar: The J&K High Court today gave a reprieve to Chief Secretary of J&K in a petition seeking contempt proceedings against him for failing to undertake registration of workers in the unorganized sector in the union territory.

With a view to ensure that the government extends socio-economic security to the workers in the unorganized sector, the High Court had in May this year directed the Commissioner Secretary Labor department to expeditiously ensure their registration.

The registration had been protracted due to alleged official lethargy compelling the petitioners to seek contempt proceedings against the Chief Secretary of the J&K and other senior officers of the Labor department.

The petitioner alleged that under the directions of the Supreme Court and as per the provisions of the Unorganized Workers Social Security Act, 2008, it is mandatory for the government to undertake registration of workers of the unorganized sector for their social security benefits.

Slamming the Centre for its “unpardonable” lethargy in implementing a 2018 direction to register all unorganized sector workers, the Supreme Court in a recent direction too urged the Union and State governments to complete registration of all workers by 31st July.

As the case was taken up for hearing today at the Srinagar wing of the  J&K High Court, its division bench comprising Chief Justice Pankaj Mithal and Justice Sanjay Dhar were informed by the Advocate General that effective steps in registering the workers of the unorganized sectors in the Union Territory are underway.

A dedicated portal is being made available, read his compliance report on the matter.

He said “in accordance with the directions of the Supreme Court, the Director General Labour Welfare has informed that Ministry of Labour & Employment has developed a registration module”.

He added “the module will create a comprehensive national database for unorganized workers and at present the process is on for dry run. The security audit is underway and the project is expected to commence the registration work by August, 2021 after a meeting to discuss the launch/handover of portal to the states and other related issues is held on 30.07.2021 as scheduled”.

He further stated that the registration of unorganized workers under the Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996, is going on.

He claimed that 5, 56,291 unorganized workers have been registered so far.

“In view of the above statement made in the status report, it is apparent that the work of registration of workers of the unorganized sector is underway for which proper and necessary steps are being taken at the government level,” observed the division bench.

No willful disobedience of any order of the court at this stage has been committed, it said.

Accordingly, the contempt proceedings were closed and contempt notice, (if any issued) discharged.

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