Saturday, February 4, 2023

Uttar Pradesh tiger reserve daily wagers: Supreme Court declines to hear PIL over maintainability, plea says 1200 people not paid for 11 months

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The Supreme Court declined to hear a PIL under Article 32 as it said it was not maintainable. The plea sought the release of salaries to daily wage workers working in Pilibhit Tiger Reserve, Dudhwa Tiger Reserve, Amangarh Tiger Reserve, and Katarnia Ghat Wildlife Sanctuary in Uttar Pradesh, who have been not paid for the past 11 months.

The bench of Justices S. Abdul Nazeer and Krishna Murari was seized of the matter. Justice Nazeer told petitioner-in-person Advocate Gaurav Kumar Bansal , “Writ petition in the form of PIL under Article 32 will not lie with respect to relief of releasing salary to daily wages workers. You have to approach concerned authority.”  

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The plea was filed in the interest of daily wage workers employed in Pilibhit Tiger Reserve, Dudhwa Tiger Reserve, Amangarh Tiger Reserve, and Katarnia Ghat Wildlife Sanctuary in Uttar Pradesh and not paid for the past 11 months, because of which their families were living in worse conditions for the last 11 months.

The petitioner sought directions to the Centre, Uttar Pradesh and National Tiger Conservation Authority to constitute a high-level committee to suggest measures for mitigation of the hardship caused to daily wage workers while carrying out their duties.

Furthermore, the direction was sought to the Uttar Pradesh Government to mitigate extreme hardship of more than 1,200 employees working as daily wagers in Pilibhit Tiger Reserve, Dudhwa Tiger Reserve and Amangarh Tiger Reserve.

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One of the contentions raised in the PIL were that such payment of salaries which were outstanding from more than 13 months, the family members of the daily wage workers of three tiger reserves (Pilibhit, Dudhwa and Amangarh) have reached the verge of starvation. The issue of non-payment of salary to these daily wagers by the Uttar Pradesh Government was first pointed out by Dainik Vetan Karamchari Sangh, Uttar Pradesh,  stated the petition.

A daily wage worker of Pilibhit Tiger Reserve sold stridhan and other belongings to support his family. Such information was revealed in a news article, said the Dainik Vetan Karamchari Sangh.

There was no uniform for daily wage workers who are employed as watchers, lack of torch and vehicles, lack of public utilities, children of such workers suspended due to non-payment of school fees etc, said the petition.

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Petitioner Gaurav Kumar Bansal referred to judgment of Chameli Singh v. State of U.P. [(1996) 2 SCC 549] which laid down that the State which are parties to the Covenant has recognized the right as “the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions”, in terms of Article 11 (1) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, 1966.

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