NEW DELHI: The Delhi high court on Tuesday directed the Delhi government to positively file its reply within 10 days to a PIL seeking CBI probe into alleged misappropriation in the Rs 3,200 crore Cess fund meant for migrant and construction workers in the national capital.
A bench of justices Vipin Sanghi and Rajnish Bhatnagar also asked the AAP government to file an affidavit on the irregular expenditure of funds, accumulated with the Delhi Building and Other Construction Workers (DBOCW) Welfare Board, as highlighted by the CAG in its reply filed in the matter.
On June 16, the court had asked the Delhi government to file its reply, which was not done.
The Comptroller and Auditor General of India (CAG) filed an affidavit, annexed with various audit and inspection reports of the board, in which it informed the high court that till March 2018, Rs 2,636.74 crore is accumulated with the Board which should increase its efforts to provide more welfare measures to the workers.
“The board may increase its efforts to provide more welfare measures to the construction workers so that the amount of cess collected is utilised for the purpose for which it is collected,” the report opined and pointed out that Rs 12.61 lakh was spent by the Board on the celebration of International Labour Day in May 2016 which was an avoidable payment.
It added that there was an avoidable payment of Rs 48.93 crore as interest due to delay in filing income tax return and failure in assessing and discharging advance tax liability by the Board.
The Anti Corruption Branch (ACB) of Delhi government said in its response that in 2018, a complaint was made alleging that DBOCW welfare Board was being used for political gains by misusing huge funds, amounting to over Rs 136 crore and an FIR was registered in which the investigation is in progress.
In the affidavit, filed through Delhi government additional standing counsel Sanjoy Ghose, the ACB said that during the investigation it sought documents from the concerned authorities including the board and it has been examining them since the data pertains to workers registered from 2002 till 2018 and it is quite voluminous.
The ACB said the beneficiaries under the Act were granted financial assistance under various schemes like marriage, maternity, death and education and in the verification process, 1,000 beneficiaries have been found to be unauthorised ones, including dhobi, property agent, security guard, factory labourer, roadside vendor, rickshaw puller and domestic help.
“The ACB is actively pursuing the ongoing investigation, however, it may be relevant to note that the same involves perusal and careful examination of data pertaining to lakhs of workers and is therefore, a time consuming and elaborate process,” it said.
The CAG’s audit covering the period 2016-18 also said there was an “irregular expenditure” of Rs 13.17 lakh meant for welfare of construction workers which were diverted for use of vehicles and drivers of the Labour Department for the period of 2016-17 and 2017-18 which should be recovered and credited to the cess fund.
The CAG, in its affidavit filed through Central government standing counsel Gaurang Kanth, said that the office of the Principal Accountant General (Audit) Delhi conducts the audit of Delhi Building and Other Construction Worker Welfare Board.
The court was hearing the PIL by PT Deendayal Upadhyay Smriti Sansthan, represented through senior advocate Sidharth Luthra and lawyers Yogesh Pachauri, R Balaji and Nachiketa Joshi.
The PIL said each state has its own ‘Cess fund’ which is collected for the owners/ employers of building and other construction works under the Building and Other Construction Workers (RE & CS) Act, through 1 per cent levy on the cost incurred on the project.
Till recently Delhi Cess fund has collected around Rs 3,200 crore.
The fund was created exclusively for the benefit of registered construction workers.
It alleged bogus registration of lakhs of non construction workers and sought CBI probe into the purported large scale corruption.
It claimed that most of these bogus workers are security guards, auto and taxi drivers, factory and shop workers, house wives, maids, tailors and barbers.
Besides seeking probe by CBI or an independent investigating agency, the organisation, through its president Vinod Kumar Shukla, has urged the court to direct the CAG to conduct a detailed statutory audit of the accounts of the board as about Rs 150-200 crore have already been transferred in the bank accounts of non-construction workers who are living in Delhi since long in their own houses.
The petition said around 80 complaints have been lodged at a police station by the officials of the labour department and an FIR was registered by the Anti Corruption Branch of Delhi government but nothing concrete has been done to stop the loot.
It claimed that the misappropriation of funds has been allegedly done by the dishonest employees of the Board, unions and other middlemen.



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