The Delhi High Court on Friday directed the Delhi Government to ensure strict compliance of statutory provisions contained in Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 Act and the Rules framed under the enactment.
A division bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad also directed the Delhi government to keep in mind various recommendations submitted by the Delhi Commission for Safai Karamcharis (DCSK) from time to time and take a decision within 60 days of any such recommendation being made.
The court passed the direction while disposing of a public interest litigation moved by Harnam Singh, a social activist and former Chairman of DCSK, raising concern in respect of conditions and facilities provided to various sanitation workers in the national capital.
Apart from seeking directions for compliance of the law including the National Commission for Safai Karamcharis Act, the plea also sought health insurance and medical facilities for sanitation workers and their families.
The bench took note of the counter affidavit filed by the National Commission for Safai Karamcharis and the Central Government stating that the Commission vide letter dated November 14, 2020 had directed all the District Magistrates or District Commissioners to furnish details of all safai karamcharis who have lost their lives due to COVID-19 and the details of compensation granted to them.
The court also noted that the respondent authorities - Delhi Government, NCSK, Union of India and DCSK, have furnished all the details in respect of supply of PPE Kits, N-95 Masks, gloves and other articles to the sanitation workers.
The court was also apprised about the safeguards and measures taken for safety of the workers, including details about the training imparted to the safai karamcharis, their vaccination and their residential arrangement.
The respondent authorities also informed court that the benefits given to health care workers were also extended to sanitation workers deployed in Delhi Government Health Institutions without any discrimination.
The court was also informed that the statutory provisions are being followed, compensation is being paid and that the government has ensured that equipments are being provided to the workers.
Noting that DCSK is investigating, examining and monitoring all matters relating to the safeguards to be provided to sanitation workers residing in the national capital, the court said:
"The recommendations of the Commission are forwarded to the GNCTD, and therefore, this Court is of the opinion that the DCSK – as prayed for by the petitioner, is discharging its responsibilities keeping in view the Delhi Act 7 of 2006."
The court thus observed that the Delhi Government "does not have any other choice" except to implement the statutory provisions as contained under the 2013 Act and relevant Rules.
"In light of the aforesaid, no further orders are required to be passed in the present PIL. The same stands disposed of accordingly," the court said.
Title: HARNAM SINGH v. GOVERNMENT OF NCT OF DELHI & ORS.