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The Supreme Court last week agreed to hear a PIL calling for improvement of the existing state of fire and emergency services in India.
The Supreme Court Bench of Justices Arun Mishra and Ravindra Bhat issued notice in the petition filed by one Sanjay Garg. The petition seeks directions to the authorities to adopt the Model Bill on Maintenance and Provision of Fire and Emergency Services till a comprehensive law to that effect is passed.
It is stated in the petition that fire and emergency services are an integral part of the right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. The petitioner states that he has moved the Supreme Court on being perturbed by the laxity with which fire incidents are dealt with in India.
In the recent past, a large number of fire incidents around the country have caused loss of life and huge damage to property. Often when fire accidents occur, the focal point of the discussion becomes the lack of fire safety measures taken by the property owner, the petition states. While this is a major cause for such incidents, the lack of facilities and trained staff in the Fire Department also needs to be looked into, the petition adds.
“Fire safety is one of the most important emergency response service in the country, which comes under the 12th Schedule of the Constitution which enumerates the Municipal functions…
…The Government is duty bound to provide for better training, tools and make it possible that the response time is reduced.”
The petitioner also rues that while firefighters across the globe are treated as heroes, the firefighters in India suffer from lack of proper tools and pay commensurate to the risk they take. Quoting from a study conducted in 2012 which analysed the condition of facilities at fire departments, the petitioner states that the situation is dismal and the amount of money required to fill the gap to bring the facilities up to mark is huge. The petitioner further also highlights that seven years have passed since the study was conducted, but little has changed on the ground.
“Even though the government of India formulated a model bill in 2017 which could be used by the State Governments to rectify the glaring shortcomings in the existing legislation, nothing has been done by anyone.”
Therefore, the petitioner has sought directions from the Court for the implementation of the Model Bill of 2017 for Fire and Emergency Services till the time a law to that effect is passed.
The Supreme Court issued notice in the petition returnable in six weeks. The Petitioner was represented by Advocate Abhinav Shrivastava.
[Read the petition]
[Read the Order]