Death in Sewer: Delhi HC Expresses Displeasure Over Hurdles in Grant of Employment to Victim’s Family

The Delhi High Court on Thursday voiced displeasure over the “hurdles” in grant of compassionate employment to a family member of a security guard who died inside a sewer last year, underlining that while he lost his life to save a manual scavenger, nothing was being done for him.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma noted the Delhi Development Authority (DDA) filed an appeal in the matter which was subsequently withdrawn and exhorted the authorities to grant employment to a member of the family of the deceased.

The deceased was a brave heart who sacrificed himself to save the life of another person, said the court.

“Please grant him employment. At every point of time, (there are) all kinds of hurdles in grant of compensation, employment … I feel sorry for DDA. This particular gentleman gave his life to save somebody. He lost his life to save a manual scavenger and we are not at all doing anything for him. Please do something,” said the bench, also comprising Justice Subramonium Prasad.

A sweeper and a security guard had died on September 9 last year in Outer Delhi’s Mundka area after they inhaled toxic gases inside a sewer.

The incident occurred when a sweeper had gone down to clean the sewer and fainted. A security guard who rushed to his rescue also fell unconscious, and both died.

The high court subsequently registered a public interest litigation (PIL) on its own based on a news report.

During the hearing, the Delhi government counsel said the widow of the deceased or someone on her behalf would be accommodated and some employment will be provided.

Amicus curiae Rajshekhar Rao, who is assisting the court in the matter, submitted that the guard’s widow, who was earlier in touch with him, has two children and “doesn’t seem to be educated” and so she may have to be rehabilitated in some manner.

As far as the deceased manual scavenger was concerned, the court was informed, his family has been given employment by the DDA.

“Let an affidavit be filed of a responsible officer in respect of grant of compassionate employment to the widow of late Mr Rohit (the security guard). Let the same be done within a week,” ordered the court.

The counsel for DDA also said an appeal before the Supreme Court was withdrawn without even addressing arguments.

Last month, the court was informed that the Delhi government has paid a sum of Rs 10 lakh each to the families of the two deceased people.

The court had then remarked it was unfortunate that even after 75 years of Independence, the poor were forced to work as manual scavengers.

On November 14, 2022, the high court had expressed displeasure over non-compliance of its earlier order and termed as “egregious” the “apathy” of DDA over the death of two people inside a sewer.

The matter will be heard next on March 27.

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