The Delhi High Court Thursday directed the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) to pay a compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the families of the two men who died after they inhaled toxic gases inside a sewer at a residential society in Outer Delhi’s Mundka area last month.
A division bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad was hearing the matter, wherein DDA had filed a compliance report with respect to the incident.
The court observed that “it is very unfortunate that even after 75 years of independence, poor people are being forced to work as manual scavengers and the provisions of Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and Their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 and rules framed therein are not being followed.”
The counsel for DDA submitted that the authority has taken a decision to provide compensation to the families of the deceased.
Senior Advocate Rajshekhar Rao, Amicus Curiae in the matter, drew the court’s attention to DDA’s report which stated that an assistant engineer with the authority had received a complaint with respect to blockage in the sewer. The court observed that initially the DDA in its report had stated that the workers who died while cleaning the manhole were cleaning it on their own without instructions of the DDA.
“It has been stated that no instructions were given by the DDA to clean the manhole, however, at the same time the report reveals that a complaint was received by DDA in respect of blockage in the sewer,” the court noted.
The court also observed that the law in this respect has already been crystallised in a 2014 judgment of the Supreme Court Safai Karamchari Andolan & Ors v. Union Of India wherein a compensation of Rs 10 lakh has to be paid to the families of the deceased in case of sewer deaths.
The court also directed the DDA to consider the dependant’s claim for grant of compassionate appointment in terms of the order of the Supreme Court and statutory provisions.
The court directed the DDA to communicate its decision with respect to compassionate appointment of the dependents of the deceased within a period of 30 days to the High Court.
The court further directed that if the orders of the court are not followed by the authority, then the Vice Chairman of the DDA shall remain present in the court on the next date of hearing. The matter has been listed on November 14.
The mishap took place on September 9 at a DDA apartment complex in Pocket D, Loknayak Puram. The police said the victims were identified as Rohit Chandilya, 32, a private sweeper who worked at the complex, and Ashok (aged between 28 and 30 years), a guard with the DDA who tried to rescue Chandilya.
The high court had taken suo motu cognisance of the incident based on newspaper reports and had directed the counsel for DDA to seek instructions in the matter on the last date of hearing.