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"Do Not Take Law In To Hands": Delhi HC Directs To Take Disciplinary Action On Safai Karmacharis On Strike Who Are Causing Obstructions In Removal of Garbage

Srishti Ojha
9 Feb 2021 12:31 PM GMT
Do Not Take Law In To Hands: Delhi HC Directs To Take Disciplinary Action On Safai Karmacharis On Strike Who Are Causing Obstructions In Removal of Garbage
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Delhi High Court on Friday directed the Safai Karamcharis of the Delhi Municipal Corporation on strike due to non-payment of salaries, to not to take law into their hands by causing obstruction in removal of garbage or by strewing it on the streets of the city, and not to obstruct or block the ingress and egress into the offices of the Municipal Corporations. The Court has also...

Delhi High Court on Friday directed the Safai Karamcharis of the Delhi Municipal Corporation on strike due to non-payment of salaries, to not to take law into their hands by causing obstruction in removal of garbage or by strewing it on the streets of the city, and not to obstruct or block the ingress and egress into the offices of the Municipal Corporations.

The Court has also directed the Delhi Police to ensure the immediate removal of the piled up garbage as well as the payment of arrears of salaries to the safai karamcharis.

A Division Bench of the High Court comprising of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli observed that even if the Municipal Safai Karamcharis, or some of them, have any grievance and resort to a legal strike, they are not entitled to take the law into their own hands and create anarchy in the society. The kind of conduct alleged against them, which is evident from the documents placed on record is completely unacceptable.

The Court has issued notice to the Delhi government and Respondent Unions of the Safai Karamcharis in the petition by East Delhi Municipal Corporation seeking directions to the authorities to ensure that there is no obstruction in the performance of duties by the EDMC, its officials and employees, by the Karamcharis onstrike. The plea urged for necessary assistance of the government authorities so its day-to-day operations can be run smoothly and no inconvenience is caused to the members of the general public. It prayed for directions to the Respondent authorities to take all appropriate steps to remove safai karamcharis, including members of the Unions and other individuals from the area outside the headquarters and ensure smooth ingress and egress to the same..

The Court further observed that everyone should realise that in a civilised society, such anarchy cannot be permitted to prevail, and it is essential for everyone to maintain the Rule of Law and Public Order. All the concerned authorities, including the Police must take all necessary steps to prevent such situations, and to strictly deal with any such menace created by the miscreants. Mischievous and unruly persons who take the law into their hands and create anarchy and nuisance in the society do not deserve to be shown any leniency or compassion. The State should send a stern and clear message to the society at large of their duty to remain within the bounds of law even while agitating their cause, and it cannot fail to enforce the law – lest it leads to breach of peace, loss of life and damage to public and private property, and conveys the impression that the State is helpless and unable to deal with the situation.

"When the law and order is being breached, Public and Private property is being damaged and public servants and other citizens are being made to suffer, it gives rise to the impression that the State is weak and soft, and emboldens the miscreants – who have no respect for the law, to further breach the law and to take it into their hands. Thus, all such elements should be dealt with befittingly, as and when the situation requires. " The Court stated.

The Court directed the Commissioner of Police to take all steps necessary to maintain the law and order and prevent the kind of conduct that some of the miscreants appear to have resorted to. The Court, re-implementing the directions issued in a similar case in 2015, asked the Delhi Police to follow the following directions:

  • Ensure the immediate removal of the piled up garbage as well as the payment of arrears of salaries to the safai karamcharis.
  • The Commissioner of Police to constitute specific task forces for each ward in East Delhi, which will be headed by a police officer not below the rank of the Sub-Inspector to oversee the ward-wise removal of garbage by the agencies employed by the EDMC for that purpose.
  • The CP, or any Senior Officer as deputed by him for the purpose, is to work in close coordination with Commissioner, EDMC or his representative. A meeting to be held so that the task of removal of garbage can begin straightway.

A batch of writ petitions raising grievances regarding non-payment of salaries to all classes of Municipal employees had been filed before the High Court following the difficulties faced by the three Municipal Corporations of Delhi (MCD)in distributing salaries, in wake of Covid-19 and its subsequent impact on the economic growth. The Court has been passing orders on the petitions, as a result of which all Group D employees have paid their outstanding salaries till December, 2020. However, the Safai Karamcharis of the MCDs have been striking work and carrying out their agitation because of non-payment of salaries to them in a timely manner, and for pressing their other demands

The Standing Counsel Manu Chaturvedi drew the Court's attention to several photographs showing huge heaps of garbage lying at various locations on the streets falling within the jurisdiction of East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC). He informed the Court that complaints have been sent by the EDMC to the Deputy Commissioner of Police regarding the obstruction of municipal employees from discharging their statutory duties under the Delhi Municipal Corporations Act, 1957 and the Epidemic Disease Act, 1897. He submitted that on 3rd Feb 2021, the ingress and egress to the Headquarter of EDMC was severely obstructed, as a result of which, the functioning of the EDMC was impeded.

Mr. Chaturvedi drew similarity of the present situation with the case of Anupam Bhatnagar v. Union of India & Ors. (2015), where the Division Bench of the Delhi High Court had issued directions to all parties concerned, including the Commissioner of Police, to ensure that the garbage was not strewn by the striking workers, and was removed to prevent inconvenience to the residents of the city or arrest any spread of diseases.

Advocate Jivesh Tiwari appearing for the Respondent submitted before the Court that another writ petition by nine Karmachari Unions of the three MCDs seeking a direction that their grievances be addressed, was listed before a Single Judge Bench, before whom they have already made a statement undertaking to withdraw their strike. He, therefore, assured the Court that the Municipal Safai Karamcharis will be resuming their duties from the following day.

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