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Commission Charged For Relief To Domestic Workers : Karnataka High Court Fumes At Govt; Summons Labour Secretary

Mustafa Plumber
30 Jun 2021 9:36 AM GMT
Commission Charged For Relief To Domestic Workers : Karnataka High Court Fumes At Govt; Summons Labour Secretary
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A report submitted by the Karnataka State Legal Service Authority (KSLSA) to the Karnataka High Court has revealed that an amount is being charged to domestic workers as commission at Seva Sindhu Kendra's, to register them on the Seva Sindhu portal for availing Rs 2,000 one-time compensation announced by the government as relief in view of the lockdown. The service is to be provided free...

A report submitted by the Karnataka State Legal Service Authority (KSLSA) to the Karnataka High Court has revealed that an amount is being charged to domestic workers as commission at Seva Sindhu Kendra's, to register them on the Seva Sindhu portal for availing Rs 2,000 one-time compensation announced by the government as relief in view of the lockdown. The service is to be provided free of cost.

A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Suraj Govindaraj took strong exception to this  report and directed the Secretary of the State Labour department to appear before the court through video conferencing on Thursday.

The court orally said "Let him come with a solution and action they are going to take against these people." It added, "Tell the Labour Secretary, don't give us figures of those persons who have received the sum of Rs 2,000 as those who have received the amount have had to face the ordeal of paying this Rs 200 at the centers."

The government has been all along informing the court that registration at the centers is free of cost. However, the petitioner disputed the submission and had pointed to the court that money was being charged as a commission at the centres.

The KSLSA was also in receipt of many complaints regarding the functioning of Seva Sindhu Centres. The legal services authorities are empowered to monitor and oversee the relief packages announced by the State Government that it would reach the ultimate beneficiaries. As such, with the objective of ascertaining the truth or otherwise of the allegations against the Seva Sindhu Centres, Member Secretary, KSLSA directed few selected Member Secretaries of Mysore, Belagavi, Mangalore, Hassan, Ramanagar, Bidar and Shivamogga DLSAs to conduct a discreet enquiry and submit a report to KSLSA.

The report states although the State Government has magnanimously announced a relief package of Rs.2,000 to the unorganized sector workers to compensate their suffering during the Covid-19 second wave, there is lack of awareness created. The Government has made provision for online application in Seva Sindhu Portal but due to illiteracy and lack of awareness the workers of unorganized sectors are not able to upload the application through online. Infact this illiteracy and lack of awareness of the unorganized sector workers is encashed by middle men who are allowed to charge commission fee by the so called Seva Sindhu Centres and the Labour Department.

Further, it is said "Instead of helping unorganized sector workers to make an application, concerned labour department is only driving the labourers to approach Seva Sindhu Centres wherein they charge commission fee ranging between Rs.100 and Rs. 250. In Fact the said commission fee amounts to almost 10% of the package announced by the State Government.The State Government and the Labour Department should have developed a mechanism to assist unorganized sector workers to make an application. Infact this defect is leading to a situation wherein genuine workers are not approaching Seva Sindhu Centres, rather those workers or their group, who are politically or otherwise influential have been successful in accessing the government packages."

The direction was given during the hearing of a petition filed by the DOMESTIC WORKER RIGHTS UNION. The petitioner pointed out that as per the Government Order dated 28th May 2021, the benefit of compensation of Rs.2,000, cannot be extended unless the eligible persons make applications through the Seva Sindhu portal. Advocate Clifton D Rozario, appearing for the petition, had submitted that it would be very difficult for domestic workers who are entitled to this compensation to get themselves registered on the Seva Sindhu portal.

The court in its order noted that "Today along with a memo the secretary of KSLSA has submitted a detailed report with annexures, it should work as an eye opener to the Labour department of the state government. It shows how difficult it is for the workers to register themselves on the Seva Sindhu Portal to get a small amount of Rs 2000. The procedure appears to be very cumbersome; the process is such that the majority of the domestic workers will be deprived of the benefits. The report throws light on the manner of which registration of the unorganised sector is made on the Seva Sindhu portal." The court directed the government advocate to forward the report of KSLSA to the Labour department secretary.

Court appreciates efforts taken by KSLSA

During the hearing the court orally told the government advocate "Tell the secretary, Paralegal workers and KSLSA have no interest except the cause, so the state has no reason to dispute this report."

Further the court reminded the state government "The State must remember one thing, whenever such issues come we have a KSLSA which is very active. There are people who will go to the grassroot and find out what is the reality."


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