JOINT LABOUR COMMISSIONER AND REGISTERING OFFICER Vs. KESAR LAL
LAWS(SC)-2020-3-58
SUPREME COURT OF INDIA
Decided on March 17,2020

Joint Labour Commissioner And Registering Officer Appellant
VERSUS
Kesar Lal Respondents




JUDGEMENT

DHANANJAYA Y.CHANDRACHUD,J. - (1.)The neat issue which has to be adjudicated upon in this appeal is whether a construction worker who is registered under the Building and Other Construction Workers' (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996 1 and is a beneficiary of the Scheme made under the Rules framed pursuant to the enactment, is a 'consumer' within the meaning of Section 2(d) of the Consumer Protection Act 1986. The issue assumes significance because the answer will determine whether a beneficiary of a statutory welfare scheme is entitled to exact accountability by invoking the remedies under the Consumer Protection Act 1986.
(2.)Parliament enacted the Act of 1996 "to regulate the employment and conditions of service of building and other construction workers and to provide for their safety, health and welfare measures and for other matters connected therewith or with incidental thereto". In pursuance of the rule-making powers conferred by Sections 40 and 62, the Union Government has framed the Building and Other Construction Workers' (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Rules, 1998. The State of Rajasthan has also framed the Rajasthan Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Rules in 2009, (Rules of 2009). In pursuance of the provisions contained in Section 18, the State government constituted the Rajasthan Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board. The Welfare Board has formulated several schemes for beneficiaries registered under the Act. One of the schemes which was formulated on 1 August 2011 is for rendering financial assistance on the occasion of the marriage of a daughter of a beneficiary. The scheme envisages that financial assistance of Rs 51,000 is provided on the occasion of marriage, subject to a limit of assistance on two occasions.
(3.)The respondent obtained a Labour Beneficiary Identity Card on 29 December 2011 under the Welfare Board from the appellants after depositing the registration fee of Rs 25 and an annual contribution of Rs 60. The identity card was valid for a period of one year, from 29 December 2011 to 28 December 2012. Seeking to avail financial aid under the scheme, the respondent submitted an application on 6 November 2012 in anticipation of the marriage of his daughter which was to take place on 24 November 2012. Nine months after the application was submitted, the Joint Commissioner of Labour, Jaipur issued an order of rejection covering 327 such applications, finding technical defects as a ground for the decision. The order reads thus:
"Upon scrutiny of applications received in this office, following points are found to be incomplete like incomplete application form, incompleteness of certificate of the planner in Form 'B', non-correctness of birth certificate, submission of application after solemnization of marriage and non-submission of affidavit or absence of some information in application and letter was issued reminding to complete the details, and upon non- submission of any answer to that in the office, it is not possible to grant the marriage assistance amount hence in following matters (list of 327 cases is annexed) the application for the marriage assistance are rejected."

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