Plea to implement Supreme Court order to pay compensation to Gujarat silicosis victims

NHRC has registered case No 5556/90/0/2021 following a letter by Jagdish Patel, Director, Peoples Training And Research Centre (PTRC), Vadodara, based on his request to the Chairman, National Human Rights Commission, requesting intervention in PIL 110/2006 before the Supreme Court of India, which he made on October 10, 2021:

  1. That the Supreme Court of India is hearing a petition 110/2006 PRASAR Vs. State of India and Others and the NHRC is one of the respondents in this petition.
  2. Supreme Court passed an order on 23/08/2016 in PIL 110/2006 directing the concerned District Collectors of Madhya Pradesh. On P.10 it reads, “In case it is found in the process that any Silicosis afflicted person has died, steps should be taken through the district collector concerned for the extending benefits of the Government policy and the required compensation amount of Rs. 3,00,000 in that regard, will be paid to the victim.” (Pl.see Annexure -1)
  3. On 11/04/2017 the Court passed another order in the same petition. On P. 5 the order reads, “The order dated 23-08-2016 which was already passed by this Court, in respect of giving compensation to the persons who are affected by the Silicosis and died, should be given effect to by each and every state in the matter as has been directed by this Court in other cases.” (Pl.see Annexure -2)
  4. Government of Gujarat passed resolution to pay Rs. 1 lakh to the NOKs of those who die of silicosis in any industry anywhere in Gujarat vide Government of Gujarat passed resolution to pay Rs. 1 lakh to the NOKs of those who die of silicosis in Gujarat vide resolution no. LWS-14-2011-715751-M-3 dated 29.05.15. (Pl.see Annexure -3)
  5. In response to claim by the widow of late Haresh Parmar, Gujarat Rural Labor Welfare Board issued a letter to her bearing no.gsk/Board/hsb/152/2020 date illegible (Annexure- 4)
  6. The Guj Rural Labor Welfare Board paid Ms.Rekhaben Rs. 1 lakh through ch. no.338175 dated 21/01/2020 is an evidence that  State is violating the Supreme court order. ( Annexure-5)
  7. If the Supreme Court order in PIL 110/2006 dated 23/08/2016 is read with the order dated 11/04/2017, it is observed that Government of Gujarat, in contempt of the above mentioned order has continued to pay Rs. 1 lakh to the families of the workers who die of silicosis. It has not amended the 2015 resolution.
  8. PTRC wrote to the Chief Secretary, Government of Gujarat on 12 June 2021 to implement this order but so far we have not received even acknowledgement or any reply. We have not known of any action taken by the Government in this matter. (Pl.see Annexure -6)
  9. PTRC wrote to the Chief Minister, Gujarat on 7 August 2021 to enforce this order. (Pl.see Annexure -7)
  10. In response, we received copy of the letter written by the Administrative officer of the Gujarat Gram Shramyogi Kalyan Board (Gujarat Rural Workers Welfare Board) to the Director, Industrial Safety and Health referring to the letters from the Asst. Commissioner of Labor dated 08/09/21 and from the department of the labor and employment, Gandhinagar dated 02/09/21. The letter has requested the Director, Industrial Safety and Health to take “necessary actions.” We understand that the Director, Industrial Safety and Health does not have any powers to implement the Court order as it is executive wing and not decision making authority. (Pl.see Annexure -8)
  11. The buck is moving from one office to another and one table to the other but has not stopped yet with payment to the bereaved families which very shocking. Something needs to be done and urgently. The Commission is in its capacity as the respondent in this petition is in a position to do this. We request Honorable Commission to draw the attention of the Supreme Court of this contempt of its order by filing appropriate application in this matter.
  12. We also request the Commission to bring to the notice of the Honorable Court that the recommendations of the NHRC in complaint no. 351/6/3/2010 to frame policy for the rehabilitation of the Silicosis victims and others have not been implemented by the State despite several representations. Pl. find attached latest representation dated 11 June 2021. (Pl.see Annexure -9).
  13. In light of this recommendation may I request the Commission to also represent Honourable Supreme Court to amend its order dated 05/03/2009 to pay compensation to the silicosis victims when they are still alive and when they need the monetary assistance most needed as they get pushed out of the labor market and cannot earn their living. This order was given 12 years ago which is a very long time. In the meanwhile, NGOs working on the issue with the victims have earned lot of experience. Governments of Rajasthan and Haryana have notified policy for rehabilitation of the silicosis victims but many other states have not yet framed any such policy. Victims of silicosis suffer for no fault of them. They are paying price of the inaction of the industry to reduce silica dust in the workplace and failure of the Government to protect their life. Large numbers of workers are working in unorganized sector or are not covered under the laws for social security. In such situation, State policy for rehabilitation is of great relief for the patients which prevents them to be further pushed into poverty. And if the Court passes an order in favour it will not only help silicosis victims in Gujarat but also W.Bengal, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and other states and will have far reaching impact.

Encl.:

Annexure – 1 – Copy of the Supreme Court order dated 23/08/2016

Annexure – 2 – Copy of the Supreme Court order dated 11/04/2017

Annexure – 3 –  Government of Gujarat Resolution dated 29/05/2015

Annexure – 4 – Letter issued by Gujarat Rural Labor Welfare Board to Ms.Rekhaben Parmar

Annexure – 5 – Copy of the Cheque no.338175 dated 21/01/20 issued by Gujarat Rural Labor Welfare Board to Ms.Rekhaben Parmar

Annexure – 6 – Copy of the letter written by PTRC to the Chief Secretary, GoG dated 12/06/2021

Annexure –7– Copy of the letter written by PTRC to the Chief Minister, GoG dated 07/068/2021

Annexure – 8 – Copy of the letter written by the Administrative officer of the Gujarat Gram Shramyogi Kalyan Board (Gujarat Rural Workers Welfare Board) to the Director, Industrial Safety and Health

Annexure – 9 – Copy of the letter written by PTRC to the Chief Secretary, Government of Gujarat dated 11/06/2021

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