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COVID19: Delhi HC Temporarily Suspends Use Of Breath Analyser Test And Biometric Verification For Railway Staff, Issues Directions For Ensuring Safety

Karan Tripathi
28 March 2020 5:05 AM GMT
COVID19: Delhi HC Temporarily Suspends Use Of Breath Analyser Test And Biometric Verification For Railway Staff, Issues Directions For Ensuring Safety
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Delhi High Court has issued a series of directions to the Railway Board for protecting the staff members from the possible exposure to coronavirus.

While issuing notice to the Central Government, The Division Bench of Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Talwant Singh has directed the Railway Board to ask all the Zonal Railways to comply with the court's directions on maintaining the safety of the railway staff.

The present petition was filed by Loco Running Staff Association, inviting the attention of this Court to the abject and unnecessary confusion, that has been created amongst the Zonal Railways, in the aftermath of the letter No.2016/ML/467/1 dated 20.03.2020, issued by the Ministry of Railways, Railway Board.

In that letter, the Railway Board had given the nod for continuing the Breath Analyser Test (BAT) and Biometric Verification of the running staff.

The Petitioner is concerned by the fact that the decision of the Railway Board poses a threat of exposing the members of the Loco Running Staff Association to contraction of coronavirus.

While granting 3 weeks to the Centre to file its reply, the court has imposed an interim stay on the operation of the said letter.

The court highlighted that the Railways will not subject the Loco Running Staff to either the Breath Analyzer Test or the Bio-metric Verification, during signing on/off duties, till the next date of hearing.

In addition to this, the court has asked the Railways to implement the following directions with immediate effect:

  1. The staff will Sign On and Sign Off manually on a register Details of Sign On/Sign Off may be entered in CMS through computers by CC/data entry operations.
  2. Running staff while signing On/Off should use their own pen, Common pens, if any, may be removed.
  3. In order to ensure safe train working, a declaration should be taken in the enclosed format before Sign-On and Sign-Off.
  4. Special watch may be kept on the staff to eliminate drunkenness on duty.
  5. Surprise checks may be conducted on suspected staff by Officers & Supervisors.

While extending the scope of the protection required to be taken, the court also issued the following directions to prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in all workplaces including Running Rooms:

  1. Sufficient Liquid soap and hand sanitizers should be made available in the lobbies and running/Rest Rooms.
  2. Equipments/apparatus and other commonly used items in the crew lobbies and running rooms may be frequently cleaned sanitized.
  3. Sharing of linen and use of blankets is to be stopped in running rooms.
  4. The bed rooms/wash room areas, dining halls other common rooms/halls, offices in the crew lobbies and running rooms may be kept frequently cleaned, sanitized and well ventilated by keeping the windows and doors open.

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