Delhi High Court on Friday issued a notice to Union of India in a Writ Petition instituted under Article 226 of the Constitution on behalf of the ‘All India Loco Running Staff Association’. Attention of the Court was invited to the abject and unnecessary confusion, created amongst the Zonal Railways, in the aftermath of a letter dated 20.03.2020, issued by the Ministry of Railways, Railway Board, particularly in the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has the potential of exposing the members of the petitioner association to the contraction of the coronavirus.
A bench of Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Talwant Singh said, “it is clarified that the Railways will not subject the Loco Running Staff to either the breath analyzer test or the bio-metric verification, during signing on/off duties, till the next date of hearing”, amid the Coronavirus threat.
Court stayed the operation of impugned letter issued by the Ministry of Railways and directed respondents to file their reply within three week and as interim measures passed the following directions:-
a) The staff will Sign On and Sign Off manually on a register Details of Sign On/Sign Off may be entered in CMS through computers by CC/data entry operations;
b) Running staff while signing On/Off should use their own pen, Common pens, if any, may be removed;
c) In order to ensure safe train working, a declaration should be taken in the enclosed format before Sign-On and Sign-Off;
d) Special watch may be kept on the staff to eliminate drunkenness on duty, and;
e) Surprise checks may be conducted on suspected staff by Officers & Supervisors.
Delhi High Court directed that the respondents shall take due precautions to prevent the spread of corona virus (COVID-19) by ensuring the following provisions in all workplaces, including Running Rooms:-
a) Sufficient Liquid soap and hand sanitizers should be made available in the lobbies and running/Rest Rooms;
b) Equipments /apparatus and other commonly used items in the crew lobbies and running rooms may be frequently cleaned sanitized;
c) Sharing of linen and use of blankets is to be stopped in running rooms, and;
d) the bed rooms/wash room areas, dining halls other common rooms/halls, offices in the crew lobbies and running rooms may be kept frequently cleaned, sanitized and well ventilated by keeping the windows and doors open.
The Railway Board was also directed to communicate this order to the Heads of all the Zonal Railways.
The matter would now be heard on 16.04.2020.
-India Legal Bureau