The Delhi High Court on Thursday directed the Delhi Development Authority to pay Rs 10 lakh each as compensation to the family of two men who died after inhaling toxic gases inside a sewer in Mundka last month, Live Law reported.
Rohit Chandiliya, a sweeper, and Ashok Kumar, a security guard, died on September 9. The police had filed a case under Section 304A of the Indian Penal Code, which deals with causing death by negligence.
On Thursday, a division bench of Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Subramonium Prasad observed that it was unfortunate that even after 75 years of Independence, the poor were forced to work as manual scavengers and that the provisions of Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013, are not being followed.
Manual scavenging – or the practice of removing human excreta by hand from sewer lines or septic tanks – is banned under the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013. But the practice remains prevalent in many parts of India.
Apart from the compensation, the judges asked the Delhi Development Authority to consider granting compassionate appointment to the dependents of the deceased persons, reported Live Law.
The High Court sought the presence of the vice chairperson of the authority in case its order on employment is not complied with till the next date of hearing on November 14.
On September 12, the Delhi High Court had taken note of the deaths on its own and named senior advocate Rajshekhar Rao as the amicus curiae, or friend of court, to assist the judges in the case.
At the hearing on Thursday, Rao informed the court that the report by the Delhi Development Authority had stated that they had issued no orders to Chandiliya to clean the manhole.
“At the first instance you have to pay,” the judges told the Delhi Development Authority, according to PTI. “We will decide responsibility later on. Give a job. It happened under your jurisdiction. Take action, file FIR [first information report]. You know the law.”
The police had said earlier that when Chandiliya went down to clean the sewer, he fainted and as the guard followed to rescue him and he also fell unconscious.