SCHEME ON SUPPORTING THE IMPLEMENTATION OF NREGS THROUGH STATE LEGAL SERVICES AUTHORITIES.
Central Government enacted the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act(NREGA) on August 25, 2005. The NREGA provides a legal guarantee for one hundred days of employment in every financial year to adult members of any fural household willing to do unskilled manual work at the statutory minimum wage.
The National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (in short “The NREGS”) is a necessary step for the alleviation of rural poverty. But there is a widespread concern as to how effectively the large amounts earmarked for the scheme will be utilized in a productive manner with lasting benefits to the rural community. While the NREGS is a welcome, necessary and belated steps in the effort for alleviation of poverty and destitution in rural areas, the Courts have to ensure that such a scheme, being implemented on a massive scale, spread all over the country, is executed in a fool-proof manner and free of abuse, and, more importantly, leads to the creation of durable assets of lasting value to the rural community and considerably helps in uplifting the rural poor.
Article 39A of the Constitution of India provides that State shall secure that the operation of the legal system promotes justice on a basis of equal opportunity, and shall in particular, provide free legal aid, by suitable legislation or schemes or in any other way, to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disability. Articles 14 and 22(1) also make it obligatory for the State to ensure equality before law and a legal system, which promotes justice on a basis of equal opportunity to all. Legal aid strives to ensure that constitutional pledge is fulfilled in its letter and spirit and equal justice is made available to the poor, downtrodden and weaker sections of the society.
On the directions of the Hon’ble Chief Justice of India, a National level Seminar on “INTERACTION ON IMPLEMENTATION OF NATIONAL RURAL EMPLOYMENT GUARANTEE SCHEME” was convened on 2nd October, 2008, the day being the Gandhi Jayanthi. The seminar was attended by several Hon’ble Supreme Court Judges, Ministers, Executive Chairman of State Legal Services Authorities, Chairman High Court Legal Services Committees and Member Secretaries of the State Legal Services Authorities. The issues and challenges in implementing the scheme NREGS and the role of State Legal Services Authorities were extensively deliberated.
After discussion the CHEME ON SUPPORTING THE IMPLEMENTATION OF NREGS THROUGH STATE LEGAL SERVICES AUTHORITIES was approved for implementation.
National Legal Services Authority, State Legal Services Authority, District Legal Services Authority and Taluk Legal Services Authority are to ensure that the cit8izens are aware of the rights, benefits, privilege guaranteed by the NREGS.
Legal Services Authority have to take prompt remedial action on all complaints and irregularities emerging from the Social Audit of the NREGA. The Legal Services Authorities can work on the following strategy for the proper and timely implementation of NREGA:
1. Generating Awareness:
- Amongst Target Groups, Likely Workforce and implementing Agency
- By impressing upon them the Rights based framework and their own accountability to the public especially amongst those likely to seek work.
- What NREGA offers, how it can be availed, the difference it can make and its legal accountability design.
2. Wage Payment:
- Problem of withholding part of payment and problem of leakages and delayed payments to be dealt with in the following manner:
- A practical programme needs to be framed for making legal services available to the rural people of this country for the proper implementation of NREGA. The Legal Services Authorities in order to secure NREGA, which promotes justice on the basis of the equal opportunity emphasizes on the following:
- A nation-wide legal literacy and legal awareness campaign relating to NREGA. This would include distribution of pamphlets/posters and booklets highlighting the benefits of the NREGA.
- The State Legal Services Authorities should identify suitable and trustworthy NGOs through whom legal literacy campaign on NREGA would be taken to tribal, backward and remote areas of the country. Efforts should be made to publicize NREGS amongst the target groups and likely work force and the schemes envisaged by the Act for providing free legal aid as the groups would come to know about the same and approach the concerned Legal Services Functionaries. To make people aware what NREGA offers, how it can be availed, the difference it can make and its legal accountability design. To ensure transparent and fair method of registration under NREGA.
- To set up local monitoring and vigilance Committees which interact with the workforce and the Gram Panchayats to know the ground realities.
To set up Lok Adalat as Grievance Redressal Forum in the block levels and Gram Panchayats level.
The present scheme caters to the needs and is a very comprehensive one. The scheme for legal awareness and Lok Adalats for the disputes arising in the implementation of the NREGA/ NREGS has also been appreciated by the Ministry of Rural Development who have extended their support.
1. Name of the Scheme: Scheme on Supporting the Implementation of NREGS through State Legal Services Authorities.
2. Object: A Scheme on Supporting the Implementation of NREGS by generating awareness through Legal Literacy and Awareness Campaigns and to establish a grievance redressal forum by organizing Lok Adalats to resolve the disputes/complaints or legal problems of any person in respect of implementation of the scheme and employment guaranteed under NREGA.
3. Legal Literacy and Awareness Campaign: There shall be a team for conducting Legal Literacy and Awareness Campaign consists of :
- A judicial officer
- Two panel lawyers, preferably one lawyer from the area where the legal literacy camp is to be organized.
- One person from District Administration.
- Councilor or the ward member of Panchayati Raj Member of the area.
- Social Worker/s
4. Places where Campaign to be conducted: In the Blocks and Gram Panchayats which are identified for the implementation of the NREGS.
5. Subjects for campaign:
i) Rights under the national Rural Employee Government Act, 2005
ii) Entitlements and benefits under NREGS
iii) The essential guarantees under NREGS
iv) Role and responsibilities of Key Agencies
v) Role and responsibilities of Key players
vi) Rights and benefits under Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987.
vii) The Concept of Lok Adalat.
6. Methodology of the legal literacy and awareness campaign:
- The State/ District Authorities/ Taluk Legal Services Committees shall form Teams in the manner aforesaid and the team shall conduct legal literacy camps at the places mentioned above.
- The team before proceeding to the place shall equip themselves about the various provisions of NREGA and NREGS to be addressed in local language to the public concerned.
- The materials like pamphlets, posters, booklets highlighting the benefits of NREGA shall be supplied by the District Legal Services Authority/ Taluk Legal Services Committee.
- More than one team may be constituted which can be delegated to different places.
- The District Authorities/ Taluk Legal Services Committees shall prepare a calendar for each financial year for Legal Literacy and Awareness Camps and shall display on the notice Board of the respective committees and Authorities containing the place of Legal literacy camps, subjects to be taken, timings etc. so that the public could know about the same.
- More focus shall be one the NREGA and NREGS materials may be used and NREGA functionaries may be involved.
- The duration of the camps shall be 2 to 3 hours either in the morning or in the evening.
- The camp shall be conducted in a simple manner. Dais, garlanding, putting shawl, lunch or dinner, shall be strictly avoided.
- Public Address system (mike arrangements) shall be arranged if necessary.
- The camp shall be one of interactive and lengthy speech shall be avoided.
7. Lok Adalats under Champter VI of the Legal Seminars Authorities Act, 1987:
- The State, District and Taluk Legal Services Authorities/ Committees shall organize Lok Adalats under Section 19 of the Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987 to deal with the disputes arising out of NREGS between the rural worker and implementing agencies and any other person connected thereof.
- Every Lok Adalat shall consist of :
(a)Serving or retired judicial officer
(b)A social worker or a retired Engineer not below the rank of Assistant Engineer of PWD or retired Revenue Officer not below the ran of Tehsildar.
- Lok Adalat shall have jurisdiction to determine and to arrive at compromise or settlement between the parties to a dispute in respect of complaints arise in course of implementation of NREGA, as that of pre-litigative case. Some of the disputes which can be brought before the Lok Adalat for compromise or settlement between the Rural Workers and the implementing agency are;
2.Allocation of work
3.Custody of Job Cards
7.Measurement of work
8.Banks and post office accounts
- Cognizance of cases by Lok Adalat
i)The Centre/State Government;
ii)Any Officer of the Ministry of Rural Development;
iii)State Legal Services Authority/District Legal Services Authority/Taluka Legal Services Committee
iv)Any person or on behalf of any person who is holding a job card given a Job/entitled for a Job Card or a Job; may refer any dispute in relation to NREGA to the Lok Adalat.
- i) The Lok Adalat shall have the powers as under Section 22 of the Legal Services Authorities Act.
ii)The Ministry of Rural Development(Centre or State) Shall issue guidelines to the Gram Panchayat, Sarpanch, any NREGA functionaries or to any person in charge of implementation of NREGA to appear before the Lok Adalat in respect of any dispute brought before the Lok Adalat in the event of receiving a summon from Lok Adalat.
- Sittings of Lok Adalats
i)As many as Lok Adalats may be organized as required, however, there shall be at least five Lok Adalat per month in five Blocks or in a group of Gram Panchayats.
ii)The place of Lok Adalats sitting will be at respective Block/ Gram Panchayat.
Expense for Legal Literacy and Awareness Campaign:
- A minimum of 4 Camps shall be conducted in a month in the manner above mentioned.
- A sum of Rs.3000/- may be permitted to be spent by each team for conducting one camp in the following manner.
Transportation : Rs.1000/-
Printing of pamphlets : Rs. 250/-
Miscellaneous expenses : Rs. 250/-
Other Fees : Rs.1500/-
(Fees to the team members, if permissible, shall be as per the schedule of fees)
Expense for Lok Adalats:
Transportation : Rs.1000/-
Stationary : Rs. 250/-
Miscellaneous expenses : Rs. 250/-
Honorarium to the Members of the Lok Adalat : Rs. 1500/-
Total– Rs. 3000/-
PROFORMA FOR BRINGING THE DISPUTE TO THE LOK ADALAT
Name of the Applicant :_______________________________________
Father/Husband Name : _______________________________________
Job Card No. : _______________________________________
Address : _______________________________________
Nature of complaint : _______________________________________
Respondents; Name : _______________________________________
YOUR RIGHTS UNDER THE EMPLOYMENT GUARANTEE ACT.
- 1) With this Job Card, you are entitled to apply for work at any time. You can submit your application to the Gram Panchayat, or to the Block office.
- 2) If you apply for work, employment has to be given to you within 15 days.
- 3) When you apply for work, make sure that you get a dated and signed receipt.
- 4) If you do not get employment within 15 days, you are entitled to the unemployment allowance.
- 5) All workers are entitled to the statutory minimum wage.
- 6) Men and women should be paid equally.
- 7) Wages should be paid within a week, or fifteen days at most.
- 8) Wages should be paid in public. When wages are paid, muster rolls should be read out and Job Card entries should be made.
- 9) Sign the muster roll after receiving your wages and checking the entries. Never sign a blank muster roll.
- 10) If you live more than 5 Km away from the worksite, you are entitled to a travel and subsistence allowance (10% of the minimum wage).
AT THE WORKSITE
- 11) Muster rolls should be available and maintained at the worksite. You are entitled to check the muster roll at any time.
- 12) Shade, drinking water and first-aid should be available at every worksite.
- 13) If more than five children under the age of six years are present, child care facilities should also be provided at the worksite./li>
- 14) If you have not been given work within 15 days of applying, you are entitled to the “Unemployment allowance”.
- 15) The unemployment allowance amounts to one fourth of the minimum wage for the first 30 days, and one half thereafter.
- 16) You can apply for the unemployment allowance to the Gram Panchayat or Block Office ( you will need the receipt showing when you applied for work)
WATCH YOUR JOB CARD
- 17) This Job Card (with photograph) should be given to you free of cost. Don’t let anyone charge you for it.
- 18) Every household is entitled to a separate Job Card.
- 19) Keep this Job Card with you. No-one has the right to take it away.
- 20) Entries have to be made in front of you when your wages are paid.
- 21) Make sure that no false entries are made in the Job Card.
- 22) If you lose this Job Card, you can apply for a new one from the Gram Panchayat.
HELP AND COMPLAINTS.
- 23) If you have a problem, you should first approach the Gram Panchayat. If this does not help, you can submit a complaint to the Programme Officer at the Block level.
- 24) If you complain to the Programme Officer, it is his duty to register your complaint and take action within 7 days.