Delhi HC directs state gov’t to provide meals to daily wage workers

The court also directed the government to inform availability of beds, oxygen

Representation Image | Deccan Herald

As Delhi recorded over 25,000 new cases of Covid-19, the Delhi high Court has taken note of a few key issues being faced by people in the capital. The court was hearing a plea filed by Advocate Rakesh Malhotra over shortage of oxygen to critical patients and the building pressure on testing labs for submitting Covid test reports within 24 hours.

The Division bench of Justices Rekha Palli and Vipin Sanghi has directed the Delhi government to provide foods, medicines and other necessities to daily wagers at their worksite and to use the service of mid-day meal service providers for the same. The court pointed out that daily wage workers are once again faced with the grim reality of facing shortage of even basic necessities such as food, clothing and medication and that the NCT government, in 2020, had “failed to utilize thousands of crores of rupees they are sitting on, which is available with the Board constituted under the Building and Other Construction Workers (Regulation of Employment and Conditions of Service) Act, 1996 and which has been collected as Building cess for construction workers.”

While the petitioner highlighted that the labs were under immense pressure as they were testing at least 700 people per day per lab, the government counsel defended the decision stating that if the government does not put limits, some will take advantage of the situation, the test results will spill over to the third or fourth day. Adv Malhotra said that he was not blaming the government but the time given to labs should be extended to 48 hours. The proposed ban on labs being unable to deliver results within 24 hours appeared to be unreasonable.

The court also questioned this decision of the government and said, “If such a threat is actually issued, is this the way to deal with it? What does the doctor have to gain of this? He has to produce 1,000 reports per day, otherwise the system will choke,” reported LiveLaw.

“It appears the GNCTD is being unreasonable, and is unmindful of the limitations of men, infrastructure and equipment available to deal with the massive surge in Covid-19 positive cases… It does not serve the interest of any such lab to delay the reports- deliberately, or negligently. We, therefore, make it clear that any such direction issued shall not be implemented,” the court stated

The court, however, emphasised that the labs should continue to work efficiently and diligently and deliver reports at the earliest humanly possible.

Addressing the concern raised over oxygen supply, the government counsel, Rahul Mehra stated that the government had prepared a schedule for ensuring supply of 300 MT oxygen per day and that would be extended to 700 MT per day and that the Chief Minister has already written to the Union Minister for Power in this regard. The court has asked the Ministry to look into it on an urgent basis.

The court has directed the Central government to examine the availability of oxygen in different states in the country in the context of the spread of the pandemic so that oxygen could be made available to the areas where it is most required

The court has directed both, Central and state governments to clarify via affidavit availability of beds with and without ventilators, as well as availability of oxygen by April 20.

The complete order may be read here:



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