Monday, December 4, 2023

Manual scavenging: Delhi High Court orders DDA to pay Rs 10 lakh compensation to kin of deceased

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The Delhi High Court on Thursday directed the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) to pay Rs 10 lakh compensation to the families of two people, who died during unclogging of a blocked sewer at a residential society in outer Delhi’s Mundka area on September 9.

Observing that it was unfortunate that even after 75 years of independence, poor people were forced to work as manual scavengers, the Division Bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad lamented the fact that provisions of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 (PEMSR) were not being followed.

The High Court had taken suo motu cognisance of media reports, which said that a 32-year-old manual scavenger, Rohit Chandiliya, had died during cleaning of a sewer, while a 30-year-old security guard, Ashok, posted nearby also lost his life, while trying to save him. 

Appearing as Amicus Curiae in the matter, Senior Advocate Rajshekhar Rao cited the report by DDA and said the worker was cleaning the manhole on his own, without any instructions from the authority.

As per the report, a complaint was received by DDA with regards to sewage blockage and Chandiliya was working to resolve the issue, noted the Amicus Curiae.

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The High Court noted that a law was already in place, enacted by the Supreme Court, which banned manual scavenging and ensured that people indulging in such practice were not deprived of their right to live with human dignity.

The Division Bench then directed the DDA to pay compensation to the families and consider their case for compassionate appointment.

The decision regarding compassionate appointment has to be communicated to the Court within a month and if the order is not complied with, the vice-chairman of the authority shall remain present before the court on the next date of hearing, it added.

Case title: Court on its own motion vs Municipal Corporation of Delhi and Ors

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