As per the Delhi commission of women (DCW), 130,000 complaints of various kinds of harassment of domestic servants have been registered with it, ever since the Delhi Private Placement Agencies (Regulation) Order, 2014 was implemented in the national capital.
This fact came to light last week, when central information commissioner Vinod Kumar Tiwari held a second appeal hearing of right to information (RTI) applicant Haresh Thakur, who had sought information on the number of complaints that have been adjudicated by DCW under clause 9 (a) of the Delhi Private Placement Agencies (Regulation) Order, 2014.
RTI applicant Thakur also sought details of the number of cases wherein directions have been issued for payment of wages under clause 10 (b) of the Delhi Private Placement Agencies (Regulation) Order, 2014.
For the background, the executive order of the Delhi High Court (HC) outlines conditions of work, and placement procedures, and mandates payment through a bank account. It enforces the mandatory registration of placement agencies of domestic servants, imposing a fine of Rs50,000 for non-registration. Adjudication powers are delegated to the child welfare committee (CWC) and the DCW, as per the order.
The public information officer (PIO) of DCW, Gautam Majumdar denied the information claiming that he forwarded the reply to its helpdesk which stated that no information was available and that the RTI application had been transferred under sub-section (3) of Section (6) of RTI Act, 2005 to the PIO, office of the labour commissioner. It also denied information on another point and that is—whether minimum wages for domestic workers have been prescribed in Delhi. If yes, provide a copy of the latest minimum wage notification specifying the minimum wages for domestic workers. The first appellate authority (FAA) upheld the PIO’s rejection of information.
At the CIC hearing, the order of which was passed on 5th February, RTI applicant Mr Thakur argues that the DCW is in charge of adjudicating complaints related to withholding of wages; harassment; non-compliance with agreed terms, abusive working conditions; long hours of work and lack of basic facilities.
The PIO argued before the commission that, “Records of complaints adjudicated by Delhi Commission for Women under clause 9 (a) of the Delhi Private Placement Agencies (Regulation) Order, 2014 are not maintained in the desired form.”
Upon being queried by CIC Tiwari, the PIO explained that, as per his understanding, around 1.30 lakh complaints in digitised form are available in their records and he volunteered to provide an opportunity for inspection of these records to the RTI applicant.
In his order, the CIC directed the commission for women “to facilitate inspection of available and relevant records related to the information sought by the RTI applicant on a mutually decided date and time, within two weeks from the date of receipt of this order. The intimation of the date and time of the inspection shall be informed to the RTI applicant via telephonically/ e-mail and in writing.”
(Vinita Deshmukh is consulting editor of Moneylife. She is also the convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting, which she won twice in 1998 and 2005 and the Chameli Devi Jain Award for outstanding media person for her investigation series on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book "To The Last Bullet - The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart - Ashok Kamte" with Vinita Kamte and is the author of "The Mighty Fall".)
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