HC upholds order making Delhi residence mandatory for becoming civil defence volunteer

The Delhi High Court has upheld the validity of a city government order making it mandatory for a person to be a Delhi resident to become a civil defence volunteer.

A bench headed by Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma dismissed a petition by a lawyer assailing the order issued by the Secretary, Revenue and Divisional Commissioner of the Delhi government, and said civil defence volunteers are expected to be the first responders in case of any disaster or hostile enemy attack and therefore such an eligibility clause is not unjustified.

It also ruled the authorities are “certainly competent” to issue necessary directions in respect of the place of residence of a candidate for enrolment and the condition does not violate the Constitution of India.

“The authorities were justified by including a condition in respect of residence and even if a person from any part of the country is residing in Delhi and is holding one of the documents referred in the order can certainly become civil defence volunteer. Thus, by no stretch of imagination, it can be held that the condition in regard to place of residence is violative of Articles 14, 16 and 21 of the Constitution of India.

“A person who is residing in South India does not know the geography of Delhi and if recruited as civil defence volunteer, and in case of emergency he will get lost in Delhi instead of reaching to the place where emergency has occurred,” the bench, also comprising Justice Tushar Rao Gedela, said in its order passed on May 22.

The petitioner had challenged the order on the ground that the condition of being a resident of Delhi did not find a place under the Civil Defence Act, 1968, Civil Defence Rules, 1968 and the Civil Defence Regulations, 1968 and any person could be a civil defence volunteer in Delhi.

The court noted the Civil Defence Act, 1968 came into being after the Chinese invasion in 1962 and the main aim and object of the law was to address “immediate need in case any unseen event takes place by providing immediate relief in the locality”.

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It added the present order, passed in 2015, does not provide for producing a domicile certificate for treating a person as a resident of Delhi and, if a person from some other state is residing in Delhi and has any of the requisite documents such as city voter ID, he can certainly become a civil defence volunteer here.

“In the present case, the impugned notification relates to civil defence volunteers and as already stated earlier, the civil defence volunteer in case of any disaster or hostile enemy attack, are expected to be the first responders. Hence, the eligibility clause that a person should be resident of Delhi can never be said to be violative of any Constitutional right guaranteed to the Petitioner or to any citizen of India,” the court observed.

The bench said it does not find any reason to interfere with the order.

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