Cleanliness For One Class Of Citizens Cannot Be Achieved By Engaging Others In Slavery: Bombay High Court

Cleanliness For One Class Of Citizens Cannot Be Achieved By Engaging Others In Slavery: Bombay High Court

Asks BMC to make 580 workers as permanent employees, some of whom have been working continuously since 1996

Urvi MahajaniUpdated: Thursday, March 14, 2024, 06:51 PM IST
article-image
Bombay High Court | File

The Bombay High Court has directed the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) to declare 580 of its workers as permanent employees and extend all benefits to them, observing that, in a welfare state, cleanliness for one class of citizens cannot be achieved by engaging others in slavery. It further said that the fundamental right of citizens to a clean environment cannot be achieved by subjugating the fundamental rights of the workers to basic human dignity.

The HC was hearing a petition filed by BMC challenging an order passed by the Industrial Tribunal directing it to create posts for 580 temporary workers. The tribunal had directed the corporation to declare the 580 workers as permanent and extend all benefits to them.

Details of case

The issue was raised after the workers' union, Kachara Vahatuk Shramik Sangh, asked the BMC to make 580 of its members permanent staff. These workers are engaged in the work of sweeping and cleaning public roads and collection and transportation of garbage. The union said that these 580 workers belong to the marginalised section of society and have no access to bare minimum facilities. Also, some of them have been working with the BMC since 1996 without any benefits like medical and health insurance. 

While dismissing the BMC’s plea, the HC said setting aside the tribunal’s order would be a "travesty of justice". It added that the BMC has a mandate to keep Mumbai clean and residents of the city, who pay taxes, have a fundamental right to a clean environment.

Court's observations

"This fundamental right and the mandatory duty cannot be achieved by subjugating the fundamental rights of the workers to basic human dignity. In a welfare state, cleanliness for one class of citizens cannot be achieved by engaging in 'slavery' of the others," Justice Milind Jadhav said in a detailed 71-page judgment. 

The judgement was passed on November 8 last year. However, the detailed copy was made available on Wednesday. 

These 580 workers provide the foundation on which the city functions. Instead of acknowledging this and giving them the stability of a permanent tenure, the municipal corporation has taken advantage of its dominant position to exploit the lowest strata of the community, Justice Jadhav said.

The judge acknowledged the fact that some of these workers have been working with the corporation from 1996-1999 onwards continuously till date. “While the permanent workers are accorded all the facilities and security of tenure, the working and living conditions of the 580 workers are pitiable. The way they have to live, the manner in which they are made to work is below human dignity,” the court underlined. 

Justice Jadhav said that many of these workers get injured on duty while handling garbage, develop illnesses and are left to fend for themselves, with almost no medical care, it said. “They have to manually remove excrement, rotting animals, and ride on the trucks carrying garbage and rotting carcasses. One does not have to go through years of such sub-human existence to complain of exploitation,” the court added. 

RECENT STORIES

Mumbai: 12 Yr Old Boy Seriously Injured After Balcony Of Motilal Mansion Collapses At Kemps Corner

Mumbai: 12 Yr Old Boy Seriously Injured After Balcony Of Motilal Mansion Collapses At Kemps Corner

Mumbai News: Protest Erupts At CSMT Station As Railway Staff Stage Sit-In Over Sanitation Issues

Mumbai News: Protest Erupts At CSMT Station As Railway Staff Stage Sit-In Over Sanitation Issues

Mumbai News: Engine Failure Disrupts Central Railway Services; LTT-Mau Express Stalls Near Dombivli

Mumbai News: Engine Failure Disrupts Central Railway Services; LTT-Mau Express Stalls Near Dombivli

'Sharad Pawar Is Ringleader Of Corruption In India,' Says Union Home Minister Amit Shah In Pune;...

'Sharad Pawar Is Ringleader Of Corruption In India,' Says Union Home Minister Amit Shah In Pune;...

Union Home Minister Amit Shah's High-Stakes Meetings In Pune Bid To Weaken Pawar Hold On Sugar...

Union Home Minister Amit Shah's High-Stakes Meetings In Pune Bid To Weaken Pawar Hold On Sugar...