The Karnataka High Court has sought the response of the Central and State governments in a public interest litigation (PIL) petition seeking registration of domestic workers under the Unorganised Workers’ Social Security Act, (Act) and related Rules, 2009,
The Act confers various benefits under different schemes to registered persons.
A Division Bench of Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum issued notice in a plea moved by Domestic Workers’ Rights Union.
The petition states as per National Sample Survey, 39 lakh people, i.e., 13 lakh male and 26 lakh females are employed as domestic workers by private households, though the actual number is likely to be much higher.
The plea has highlighted various discriminatory practices against domestic workers including use of separate utensils, prohibition on use of toilets etc.
“Casteist, feudal, and discriminatory practices” imposed on domestic workers, including use of separate utensils and prohibition of use of toilets, amount to the practice of untouchability,” the petition has contended.
The failure of the State to register domestic workers under the Act has resulted in more than four lakh domestic workers in Bengaluru city, and many more across the State standing neglected, without jobs, and without economic and social security, especially during this pandemic period, the plea adds.
The petitioner has also alleged that though the State government announced financial assistance to people working in various other sectors of unorganised workers, no financial assistance was offered to domestic workers during the COVID-19 pandemic, though many of them had lost their livelihood.
This apart, the plea also raises concern on sexual harassment faced by domestic workers at their workplaces.
Even though the Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act specifically covers domestic workers within its ambit, the ineffective functioning of local complaint committees has forced domestic workers to face sexual harassment at workplace by their employers, adds the plea.
On these grounds, the plea seeks a direction for the registration of domestic workers under the Act.
The matter will be taken up again on March 25.