The Delhi High Court Thursday issued notice to the Centre and the state governments of Bihar and Delhi on a petition alleging that the death of child labourers in the Anaj Mandi fire took place due to the “lackadaisical and apathetic” approach of the authorities concerned.
A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar also sought the stand of the Centre, Delhi government, its labour department, Delhi Police and the state of Bihar on the plea seeking direction to enquire into the number of children who were employed at manufacturing units in the building. The petition further sought direction to provide police protection to children injured in the incident who are admitted in hospitals.
The court listed the matter for further hearing on March 31, before which authorities have to respond to the notices. Forty-three people were killed after a fire broke out at the five-storey residential building with illegal manufacturing units at North Delhi’s Anaj Mandi early Sunday.
The High Court was hearing a PIL filed by Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA), through its counsel Prabhsahay Kaur, claiming that several minors were among the people reported dead, injured or missing in the incident.
“There is a complete lack of commitment on the part of the government to implement the Delhi Action Plan for total abolition of child labour…,” said Kaur, who also sought an enquiry into trafficking and child labour.
The BBA also asked authorities to “rehabilitate, compensate and recover minimum wages of the child labour at Anaj Mandi establishments” and to seal establishments, units or factories where child labour is found.
The PIL alleged that one of the injured minors has disappeared from the burns ward of Lok Nayak Hospital and claimed that it indicates involvement of child traffickers. It sought directions to the police to trace the missing child.
As per the petition, most of the minors hail from Bihar, from where they are brought by traffickers to work in factories. “The question that begs consideration is how the State agencies could have turned a blind eye to apparent and visible manufacturing units being run from Anaj Mandi, especially in light of clear and mandatory directions of this court on child labour,” the plea said.