Provide Medical Facilities, Protective Gear to Safai Karamchaaris: Delhi HC to MCDs

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court directed the municipal corporations here on Tuesday to ensure that adequate medical facilities with regular check-ups and good quality protective gear like masks, gumboots and gloves are provided to its ‘safai karamchaaris’.

A bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice C Hari Shankar, however, declined to issue any direction regarding providing cashless medical facilities to the corporations’ employees saying it was a policy decision to be taken by the three MCDs after taking into consideration its budget and its experience in respect of misuse of such benefits.

The court said there was no rule which said medical facility has to be provided through cashless method as a better option was reimbursement of the treatment cost.

The direction and observations of the bench came while disposing of a PIL by Abhishek Dutt, the municipal councilor of South Delhi Municipal Corporation (SDMC), who alleged that proper equipment and apparatus has not been provided to the ‘safai karamchaaris’ leading to deaths and injuries while cleaning the drains in the city.

His petition, filed in 2018, claimed that 877 workers had died on the job in the previous five years in the four zones of the SDMC alone.

He had urged the court to set up a court-monitored committee to oversee the functioning of the corporations and to also look into the cause of deaths of the workers.

The bench declined to further monitor the matter after the corporations said they were providing medical facilities with regular check-ups to its employees apart from ensuring that its safai karamchaaris had proper equipment to clean the streets and drains in the city.

Noting the corporations’ claims, the court directed them to “provide enough and adequate medical facilities with regular check-up at regular intervals in a systematic manner with a detailed comprehensive policy”.

It also directed them to “provide sufficient number of quality safety gear like masks, gumboots and gloves”.

The bench refused to set up a court-monitored committee as sought by the petitioner, saying the corporations have enough high ranking officials and it was not going to add to it by constituting a panel to oversee them.

It, however, asked the corporations to constitute a committee to deliberate upon the deaths of safai karamchaaris and to determine whether there was any connected between their deaths and their duties.

The court said if any such connection was found, then the corporations should take immediate action on it, including in respect of payment of compensation, in accordance with the law, rules, regulations and government policy applicable in such cases.

The bench also said that since the petitioner was a SDMC councillor he can raise the issues before the concerned authority and if nothing happens, then there was an in-built mechanism in the corporation to deal with that.

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