In a PIL filed by Safai Karmachari Andolan seeking a writ against Centre and State Governments for the strict enforcement and implementation of the Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, Supreme Court observed that duty casted upon all States and the Union Territories to fully implement the provisions of the Act and to take action against the violators.
Petitioners were bringing the notice of the court in to the fact that inhuman practices of manual removal of human excrement from dry toilets with bare hands, brooms or metal scrappers; carrying excrement and baskets to dumping sites for disposal is a practice that is still prevalent in many parts of the country even after the prohibition made in effect by the 1993 Act.
On Thursday after considering different facts and statistical reports Bench comprising of Chief Justice P Sathasivam, Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice N V Ramana issued certain directions which are as follows;
We have already noted various provisions of the 2013 Act and also in the light of various orders of this Court, we issue the following directions:-
(i) The persons included in the final list of manual scavengers under Sections 11 and 12 of the 2013 Act, shall be rehabilitated as per the provisions of Part IV of the 2013 Act, in the following manner, namely:-
(a) Such initial, one time, cash assistance, as may be prescribed;
(b) Their children shall be entitled to scholarship as per the relevant scheme of the Central Government or the State Government or the local authorities, as the case may be;
(c) They shall be allotted a residential plot and financial assistance for house construction, or a ready built house with financial assistance, subject to eligibility and willingness of the manual scavenger as per the provisions of the relevant scheme;
(d) At least one member of their family, shall be given, subject to eligibility and willingness, training in livelihood skill and shall be paid a monthly stipend during such period;
(e) at least one adult member of their family, shall be given, subject to eligibility and willingness, subsidy and concessional loan for taking up an alternative occupation on sustainable basis, as per the provisions of the relevant scheme;
(f) Shall be provided such other legal an programmatic assistance, as the Central Government or
State Government may notify in this behalf.
(ii) If the practice of manual scavenging has to be brought to a close and also to prevent future generations from the inhuman practice of manual scavenging, rehabilitation of manual scavengers will need to include:-
(a) Sewer deaths – entering sewer lines without safety gears should be made a crime even in emergency situations. For each such death, compensation of Rs.10 lakhs should be given to the family of the deceased.
(b) Railways – should take time bound strategy to end manual scavenging on the tracks.
(c) Persons released from manual scavenging should not have to cross hurdles to receive what is their legitimate due under the law.
(d) Provide support for dignified livelihood to safai karamchari women in accordance with their choice of livelihood schemes.
(iii) Identify the families of all persons who have died in sewerage work (manholes, septic tanks) since 1993 and award compensation of Rs.10 lakhs for each such death to the family members depending on them.
(iv) Rehabilitation must be based on the principles of justice and transformation.
Court disposed the petition by directing that persons aggrieved by the non implementation of the Act are permitted to approach the authorities concerned at the first instance and thereafter the High Court of concerned jurisdiction.