Covid-19: HC suspends breathalyser test, biometric verification for railway loco staff

The order came after the All India Loco Running Staff Association approached the High Court expressing apprehension about contracting COVID-19 infections while using same breathalysers and biometric devices




The Delhi High Court Friday ordered the Railways not to subject the loco running staff to either the breathalyser test or the biometric verification, while signing on or off duties till further orders.

A bench of Justice Siddharth Mridul and Justice Talwant Singh stayed the operation of a March 20 letter of the Ministry of Railways, Railway Board, particularly in the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Following the High Court’s direction, the Railway Board authorised zonal railways to decide on relaxing rules and also issued a circular in this regard.

The breathalyser and biometric verification are only for the crew members operating goods trains in those sections where no other passenger trains are run or anticipated at any given point of time in either direction.

The order came after the All India Loco Running Staff Association approached the High Court expressing apprehension about contracting COVID-19 infections while using same breathalysers and biometric devices, taking note of which the court issued notice to the Ministry and the Railway Board and directed them to file counter-affidavit within a period of three weeks and listed the matter for further hearing on April 16.

Standing Counsel advocate Jagjit Singh accepted the notice on behalf of the respondents.

The bench further directed the authorities that the “staff will sign on and sign off manually on a register details of sign on/sign off may be entered in CMS through computers by CC/data entry operations.”

It said; “Running staff while signing on/off should use their own pen, Common pens, if any, may be removed.”

The order further stated that in order to ensure safe train working, a “declaration should be taken in the enclosed format before Sign-On and Sign-Off.”

“Special watch may be kept on the staff to eliminate drunkenness on duty,” it said, adding that surprise checks may be conducted on suspected staff by “Officers and Supervisors.”

It stated that the authorities shall take due precautions to prevent the spread of corona virus (COVID-19) by ensuring that all workplaces, including lobbies and rest rooms shall have “sufficient liquid soap and hand sanitisers should be made available”.

The order also reads; “Sharing of linen and use of blankets is to be stopped in running rooms. The bed rooms/wash room areas, dining halls other common rooms/halls, offices in the crew lobbies and running rooms may be kept frequently cleaned, sanitized and well ventilated by keeping the windows and doors open.”

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