Delhi High Court has directed Safai Karmacharis of the Municipal Corporations in Delhi, and their unions, not to take law into their hands by causing obstruction in removal of garbage or by strewing it on the streets of the city. It also directed Municipal Corporations and the Police to take strict action against those who indulge in such activities.
The East Delhi Municipal Corporation (EDMC) had filed the petition seeking directions that no obstruction is caused to it employees including safai karamcharis willing to work; that necessary assistance is provided so no inconvenience is caused to the members of the general public; and directions to Safai Karamchari unions to be removed from the area outside the headquarters to ensure smooth ingress and egress.
The background is that Safai Karamcharis were not being paid salaries by the EDMC as their revenue generation was impacted during the pandemic. Due to non-payment of salaries in a timely manner, and for pressing their other demands, the Safai Karamcharis and their unions were carrying out strikes and protests.
The Division bench of Justices Vipin Sanghi and Rekha Palli observed that a batch of writ petitions raising grievances regarding non-payment of salaries to all classes of Municipal employees is pending before this Court, and the court has passed orders as a result of which all Group D employees have been paid their outstanding salaries till December, 2020. Further the EDMC has also placed on record, a certificate to show that the process of disbursal of salaries for the Group D employees for the month of January, 2021 has already been initiated.
The EDMC submitted several photographs showing huge heaps of garbage lying at various locations on the streets falling within the jurisdiction of EDMC. It is alleged that the drivers of the vehicles carrying garbage were waylaid by miscreants, who left the garbage in these vehicles lying strewn on the streets. Further, the Headquarter of the EDMC was gheraoed and the ingress and egress to the said Headquarter was severely obstructed, as a result of which, the functioning of the EDMC itself was impeded.
An advocate appearing for the Municipal Safai Karamcharis stated that an undertaking has been made by them before another Judge of this court assuring that the Safai Karamcharis will be resuming their duties the next day.
The court, albeit, satisfied with this development, observed, “even if the Municipal Safai Karamcharis, or some of them, have any grievance and resort to a legal strike, they are not entitled to take the law into their own hands and create anarchy in the society… Everyone should realise that in a civilised society, such anarchy cannot be permitted to prevail, and it is essential for everyone to maintain the Rule of Law and Public Order”. The court also directed the Police to deal with any such menace created by the miscreants.
“The State should send a stern and clear message to the society at large of their duty to remain within the bounds of law even while agitating their cause, and it cannot fail to enforce the law – lest it leads to breach of peace; loss of life and damage to public and private property, and; conveys the impression that the State is helpless and unable to deal with the situation. Over indulgence and uncalled for patience – when the law and order is being breached; Public and Private property is being damaged and public servants and other citizens are being made to suffer, gives rise to the impression that the State is weak and soft, and emboldens the miscreants – who have no respect for the law, to further breach the law and to take it into their hands. Thus, all such elements should be dealt with befittingly, as and when the situation requires,” states the order.
The court directed Safai Karmacharis of the two respondent unions, as well as all other Safai Karmacharis of the Municipal Corporations in Delhi, and their unions, not to take law into their hands by causing obstruction in removal of garbage or by strewing it on the streets of the city. The court further directed Municipal Corporations to take strict disciplinary action against any Safai Karmachari, found to be indulging in such activities.
The court directed the President and Secretary of the Safai Karamcharis Unions to personally remain present at the next hearing, on March 4.
The complete order may be read here.