Sabar Ekta Manch vs. State of Gujarat and others
In April 2006 Sabar Ekta Manch conducted a survey of the implementation of NREGA, in the district of Sabarkantha. The findings were nefarious and revealed corruption. The present petition stands against the non-payment of wages as per the wage rate provided under section 6 of The National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, 2005 (NREG). The Act mandates, through section 6, the payment of minimum wages fixed by the State Government under section 3 of The Minimum Wages Act, 1948, or Rs. 60 per day, whichever is more. On 7th September 2005, the Parliament recognizing the need to address rural poverty enacted the NREG. The objective was to provide employment to the rural masses at a basic minimum wage. Landless laboures and small farmers form the bulk of the rural poor. Agriculture is their primary source of employment and livelihood, which are very susceptible to fluctuations caused by floods, droughts, diseased crops, high input costs, and even inadequate storage facilities. Mechanization of agriculture and inadequate resources to fallback on has led to large-scale migration from the rural areas. Thus the Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme under NREG sought to empower village communities with alternate means of livelihood. Since February 14th 2006, when NREG came into force, the Government began providing employment under NREG to the rural poor in Sabarkantha district. Barely two months later, in April 2006, a survey conducted by Sabar Ekta Manch of the implementation of NREG, in the district of Sabarkantha revealed several irregularities. It was found that the actual payment being made to the persons employed under NREG was around Rs.3 to Rs.7 per day, which was obviously insufficient to maintain a basic minimum standard of living. Thus the purpose of the NREG stood defeated. It also amounted to forced labour prohibited under Article 23 of the Constitution of India and a violation of the fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 21.