New Delhi: Supreme Court on Friday expressed shock at the non-utilisation of a whopping Rs 27,000 crore meant for the welfare of construction workers across the country by the Centre and various state governments, saying it cannot get worse than this.
The apex court also said it was "ridiculous" that the money meant for the workers was spent on the 'babus' and advertisements.
"It is simply shocking and amazing. It cannot get worse than this. This is the sorry state of affairs," said a social justice bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and U U Lalit.
Expressing dissatisfaction over the replies filed by the governments of Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Rajasthan on collection and utilisation of the amounts and the proposals for utilisation, the bench asked the Union Labour Secretary to file an affidavit on how the Centre wanted to utilise the money.
"The money is not being used for the beneficiaries. It is being used for the 'babus'. This is ridiculous. If we ask you to name ten persons who have been benefitted, you will not be able to name them," the bench said.
It was particularly harsh on Delhi government for spending Rs 2.5 crore from the fund for advertisements.
"Why you are spending Rs 2.5 crore on advertisements? Give us the list of beneficiaries," it said, adding "we are extremely disturbed that there are thousands of crores of rupees which are not being used for the purpose for which it was collected."
"We want to know as to what you propose to do with the money. You tell everything, except what we want to know," it said.
Earlier, the court had asked Haryana, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Delhi governments to "file their submissions on affidavit with regard to collection and utilisation of the amounts and proposals for utilisation within two weeks."
The court had passed the order after certain facts were pointed out to it, including that Haryana had over the years collected Rs 1314.86 crore under the Building and Other Construction Workers' Welfare Cess Act, but disbursed only Rs 52 crores, with even the details of which being unavailable.
During the last hearing, the amicus curiae had also said
that Rajasthan had collected Rs 588.36 crores, but disbursed only Rs 59.45 crores, the details of which were also not available.
"Uttar Pradesh has collected Rs 1580.1 crores, but has disbursed Rs 180.79 crores, again the details of which are not available. Finally, the NCT of Delhi has collected Rs.1396.58 crores, but has disbursed Rs 39.37 crores and unintelligible details are made available," the court had said after noting
"In all the other years, the amount disbursed has been less than one crore except in the year 2014-15 when about Rs 1.8 crores have been disbursed," it had said.