Death of two in sewer: HC directs DDA to pay Rs 10 lakh each as compensation

Update: 2022-10-06 18:57 GMT

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Thursday directed the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) to pay Rs 10 lakh each as compensation to the family of two persons who died after inhaling toxic gases inside a sewer here last month.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma remarked that it was unfortunate that even after 75 years of Independence, the poor were forced to work as manual scavengers and asked the DDA, under whose jurisdiction the incident took place, to pay the compensation, as mandated under the law, forthwith.

The bench, also comprising Justice Subramonium Prasad added that the DDA shall also consider granting compassionate appointment to the family of the deceased persons and sought the presence of the vice chairman of the authority in case the order is not complied with till the next date of hearing. The order was passed on a public interest litigation (PIL) initiated by the court on its own based on a news report of the incident.

A sweeper and a security guard died on September 9 in Outer Delhi's Mundka area after they inhaled toxic gases inside a sewer. When the sweeper had gone down to clean the sewer, he fainted and the guard followed to rescue him and he also fell unconscious, the police had said. "It is unfortunate that even after 75 years of Independence, poor people are forced to work as manual scavenger and the (laws on the issue) are not being followed," said the court.

"As the DDA has prima facie resolved to pay compensation, keeping in view the judgement of the Supreme Court, the DDA is directed to pay Rs 10 lakh each as compensation to the family of the two deceased and also to consider their claim to grant compassionate appointment in terms of the Supreme Court judgement and statutory provisions," the order ordered.

"The decision shall be communicated to the court in 30 days. It is made clear that if the order is not complied with, vice chairman of DDA shall remain present in court on the next date of hearing," it added.

The counsel appearing for the DDA informed the court that the deceased were cleaning the drain in the absence of any instructions from them and a committee has been formed in relation to the incident. It was added that "not a single DDA official recommended" the deceased to clean the sewer and the work was outsourced. Asking the DDA to pay the compensation "at the first instance" as per the law and not form "committee after committee", the court observed that responsibility can be decided at a later stage and the authorities were free to take other legal action.

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