The Delhi High Court today said the recent migrant labour crisis during the COVID-19 pandemic indicates an immediate need for availability of proper data relating to the workers to ensure steps can be taken in a timely manner for their welfare in such emergent situations.
The high court said it was of the prima facie view that in order to have a proper, streamlined regulation of migrant workmen and their conditions of service, the first and the foremost significant measure would be the collection of the actual data and the integration of the same between the central government and the states.
Justice Prathiba M Singh said the collection of data has to be vertically integrated so that details related to migrant workmen can be collected from the Centre and states, cross-checked, maintained and readily available without any time lag.
"In order for any measures to be taken for migrant workmen, such data is of prime importance," Justice Singh said.
"For the said purpose, the governments would have to consider as to whether there should be a centralized portal for registration of migrant workmen by the contractors who engage them or the employers who employ them. Mechanisms and tools also ought to be made available so that employers and contractors do not find the same burdensome and that they can submit the data without glitches," the judge added.
The order came on a plea seeking directions to the Centre and Delhi government to put in place a machinery to ensure enforcement and implementation of the Inter-State Migrant Workmen (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1979 in the national capital which shall include appointment of registering officers, licensing officers, appellate officer and inspectors as provided under the said statute.
The plea has also sought directions to the Centre and Delhi government to frame rules for operationalising the Act in the national capital.
Delhi government standing counsel Ramesh Singh told the court that the registering officers, licensing officers, appellate officer and inspectors have been appointed and rules framed under the Act have been notified.
The lawyer appearing for the central government told the court that he needs to take instructions on the actual status of the appointments of the officers.
The high court directed the Centre and Delhi government to file their respective affidavits "disclosing the data relating to migrant workers as available with them as of June 1, 2020".
"In addition to the data, the respective governments would also place on record the procedure currently being followed for contractors or employers to register migrant workers as also what are the procedures being followed for ensuring compliance," the high court said.
It directed the Labour Ministry and the Delhi government to file status reports with regard to number of establishments which are currently registered under the Act, the number of licences issued to contractors, the number of inter-state migrant workers who have been declared under the Act and total number of officers appointed under the Act
The high court directed both the governments to file the affidavits before the next date of hearing on June 29.
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