Delhi High Court takes suo motu cognizance of Mundka sewer deaths

The Delhi High Court on Monday took suo motu cognizance of a media report highlighting the death of two persons allegedly by inhaling poisonous gases inside a sewer in the capital.

The Division Bench comprising Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad directed for the filing of a public interest litigation in the matter and sought response from the Municipal Corporation of Delhi, the Chief Secretary of the Delhi Government and the Delhi Jal Board. 

The Bench also appointed Senior Advocate Rajshekhar Rao as amicus curiae to assist the court on the issue at hand and slated the matter for September 21.

As per the news report published in September 11 edition of The Times of India, a sanitation worker identified as Rohit Chandilya  died after falling unconscious when cleaning a clogged sewer in a residential colony in Delhi’s Mundka last week. Ashok Kumar, a security guard who entered the sewer to rescue Chandilya, also fell unconscious and died.

The two men were pulled out of the sewer with the help of the fire brigade and were immediately rushed to the hospital where they were declared dead. The police has registered a case of death due to negligence.

Recently, in response to a PIL filed in 2019 seeking strict compliance of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013, to prevent loss of lives due to manual scavenging, the Centre had informed the Delhi High Court that its initiatives have curbed the deaths caused while cleaning sewers and septic tanks. The Centre also contended that it is concerned about ensuring strict compliance of the law prohibiting manual scavenging.