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"Directions Fallen On Deaf Ears": Delhi High Court Expresses Displeasure On Municipal Corporations' Failure To Control Dengue

Nupur Thapliyal
23 Nov 2021 9:15 AM GMT
Directions Fallen On Deaf Ears: Delhi High Court Expresses Displeasure On Municipal Corporations Failure To Control Dengue
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The Delhi High Court on Tuesday expressed displeasure on the failure of municipal corporations to control the surge of vector borne diseases like Dengue, malaria and Chikungunya in the national capital, observing that it's earlier directions to control the same had fallen on deaf ears. A division bench of Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Jasmeet Singh was dealing with a petition filed by...

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday expressed displeasure on the failure of municipal corporations to control the surge of vector borne diseases like Dengue, malaria and Chikungunya in the national capital, observing that it's earlier directions to control the same had fallen on deaf ears.

A division bench of Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice Jasmeet Singh was dealing with a petition filed by South Delhi Municipal Corporation assailing the Delhi Government's decision dated 03.01.2019 directing retrospective recovery of grants in aid on the SDMC and other local bodies with effect from 01.04.2016 as being arbitrary and void.

"What are you doing Mr. Sagar? There is so much dengue. You are doing nothing. You only want salaries. What do you do with these salaries and amounts?" Justice Sanghi told Advocate Sanjeev Sagar appearing for the SDMC.

On the other hand, Justice Singh expressed his concern about no progressive steps being taken by the municipal corporation on the ground to tackle the issue of dengue. He said:

"How can it be that every year the dengue is increasing? Is it not a municipal function? We are at pains to understand what is happening? Is it some rocket science that after monsoon there will be mosquitos. There will be dengue. It's a pattern for the last 15 to 20 years. Is there some rocket science involved? Is there no planning? Is there no thought process? How can it be that every... Your plea is not that you are understaffed. In fact you may be over staffed. Is it that the municipality has given up everything and it's only to collect taxes and disburse salaries? How do they expect salaries if they don't do work."

He also told Sagar to give the Court a clarity as to the number of people looking into the dengue pandemic and also about the plan to deal with the same.

"How many people who check have been given show cause notices for dereliction of duties?" Justice Singh added.
"Obviously your mosquito checkers, breeders are doing nothing. They are not going to the ground. Probably they are just marking their attendance and you are paying them, that's all," Justice Sanghi added.

Accordingly, the bench directed that meeting be convened involving the chairpersons of all the corporations, NDMC and the chief executive of Delhi Cantonment Board within one week from today in order to deal with the issue.

"For the sake of convenience, we appoint Municipal Commissioner of Delhi Municipal Corporation as the nodal officer for calling and conducting the said meeting," the Court directed.

The Court took note of the fact that vide order dated October 6, 2021, it had expressed it's concern that while the municipal employees were raising grievances for payment of their dues, the city was suffering on account of lack of efficient functioning of municipal employees.

"So as that the observations have fallen on deaf ears, on 6.10.2021, when we passed the said order, a batch of petitions including contempt case, the situation in the city has only worsened. This year we are only witnessing a big surge in the number of cases of dengue. There have been several fatalities of the said disease," the Bench said while adding that the issue could have only been a result on account of the failure of municipal corporations taking mosquito breeding seriously.

"We have therefore made it clear to Mr. Sagar that we would not exercise our discretionary jurisdiction in favour of the petitioner corporation and it's employees if the situation on the ground does not improve. Mr. Sagar has assured us that he shall communicate with the municipal commissioners of all the three corporations and place before us the steps which have been taken to control mosquito breeding," the Court recorded in the order.

The Court directed the petitioner SDMC to file an affidavit disclosing the steps taken on the ground in order to control the surge in vector borne diseases.

The Court also directed SDMC to place on record the steps taken about the Geo tagging of employees and marking of biometric attendance, an issue which was earlier highlighted by the bench.

The Court also granted time to the Delhi Government to file a counter affidavit in the matter while giving the liberty of raising its issues in the same.

While listing the matter for further hearing on January 12, the Court said that it will be hearing the issue of dengue on December 1.

Earlier, the Court had expressed its displeasure over failure of municipal corporations in the national capital in discharging their duties and functions.

"This is a dismal state of affairs for this city. What is happening to the city? Everywhere there is dengue, garbage, cattle roaming in the streets, there is damage to roads. It pains us to see this. In the last six months, this bench is only catering to the salaries, asking them to sell their properties, asking GNCTD to pay, but where is the sense of responsibility of the municipalities? We don't understand this at all," the Court had said.

"The common man is suffering. We want to make Delhi the world class city. But it's falling down by leaps and bounds. It is abysmal. It cannot go down any further. What is the state we are living in? We are issuing contempt notices, what weighed earlier to us was a Covid-19 pandemic. Now we don't have that. It's time for everyone to pull its socks and get back to work," it had added.

Case Title: SDMC v. GNCTD 

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