Municipal Corporation workers in action. Photo: PTI
A division bench of Chief Justice of Delhi DN Patel and Justice C Harishankar, after hearing the submissions on Friday, asked the Centre to file a detailed report on the issue and slated the matter for further hearing on May 8.
Additional solicitor general Maninder Acharya, appearing for the Centre, submitted that various steps have already been taken by the Union of India as envisaged in the guidelines issued by the WHO.
Acharya highlighted the risk sanitation
workers are facing while discharging their duties, especially, cleaning of bio-medical waste, ICU units, etc, and submitted that a total of 346,929 N95 face masks and 60,890 personal protective equipment (PPE) kits have been given to the Delhi government.
The court was hearing a petition, filed by social activist Harnam Singh through advocate Mahmood Pracha, seeking directions for the safety of lakhs of sanitation
workers who have been carrying out waste collection and disposal amidst the ongoing coronavirus
The plea said that the petitioner had earlier approached the Supreme Court for securing the safety of the "vulnerable and highly exposed" sanitation workers, and the Supreme Court had disposed of the petition while recording the categorical submission that adequate safety equipment was being provided to them as per mandatory WHO guidelines.
"Even though the order implies that the safety of all sanitation workers has been ensured by strict compliance with guidelines for disbursement of protective equipment to them, the petitioner has come across information from several sources, including news articles, of the completely hapless and offensive extent to which sanitation workers have been left to fend for themselves," the plea said.
It said that the sanitation workers largely belong to economic weaker section and that these workers are unlikely to have the means and opportunity to approach this court, and therefore the petitioner is moving the present petition in public interest.