The Madras High Court Bench here on Thursday directed the Law, Industries and Home Department Secretaries to file their replies to a public interest litigation (PIL) petition, taken up by the court suo motu, seeking stringent punishment for fireworks manufacturers defying safety norms in Sivakasi in Virudhunagar district.A Division Bench of Justice Satish K. Agnihotri and Justice R. Sudhakar directed Special Government Pleader B. Pugalendhi to make sure that the Secretaries file their counter affidavits by February 17. It also appointed senior counsel AR.L. Sundaresan and advocate D. Geetha as amicus curiae to assist the court in deciding the case.
The case was taken up suo motu on Mr.Justice Agnihotri’s instructions to the High Court Registry to treat a letter written by a law student to all the judges of the High Court as a PIL petition. The student, S. Rajathi, daughter of a labourer who died in an explosion in a fireworks factory, had sought the indulgence of the court in punishing the guilty. She had claimed that a majority of the over 900 fireworks manufacturers in Sivakasi did not follow the safety norms. They exploited the poor by paying Rs.250 a day to each male labourer and Rs.150 a day to each female worker. The girl, her mother and two younger sisters were living in penury ever since the death of her father, she said, and added that a NGO was sponsoring her education. She pointed out that hundreds of other families, which had lost their breadwinners in such fire accidents in Sivakasi, were also facing a similar plight.
The letter further stated that the fireworks manufacturers did not pay sufficient compensation to the families of the deceased despite making enormous profits out of crackers sale. They also escaped from the clutches of law by using the loopholes. “Not even in a single case has the owner of a fireworks factory been punished so far,” the student had added.