Begin typing your search above and press return to search.
News Updates

Employment Of Manual Scavengers: Karnataka HC Warns District Magistrates Of Contempt, Asks States To File Status Report

Mustafa Plumber
30 Aug 2021 3:01 PM GMT
Employment Of Manual Scavengers: Karnataka HC Warns District Magistrates Of Contempt, Asks States To File Status Report
x
In High Court's order, the state government was directed to ensure that in case a sewer has to be cleaned manually, no cleaning will take place without following Rule 3-8 of Manual Scavengers And Their Rehabilitation Rules, 2013 and statutory provisions under the Act.

Observing that "henceforth, in the state of Karnataka, there shall be no manual scavenging ignoring the statutory provisions of the Act and Rules," the Karnataka High Court on Monday directed District Magistrates of the concerned districts to ensure proper compliance of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013. A division bench of...

Observing that "henceforth, in the state of Karnataka, there shall be no manual scavenging ignoring the statutory provisions of the Act and Rules," the Karnataka High Court on Monday directed District Magistrates of the concerned districts to ensure proper compliance of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013.

A division bench of Acting Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum said,

"Non compliance of the statutory provisions under the Act and Rules and violation of this order, shall be exposing all district magistrates for contempt of court proceeding, as district magistrate is the authority who has remained responsible under the Act of 2013, for rehabilitation of such manual scavengers. It shall be the duty of the district magistrate to create awareness among all officers of local bodies for ensuring compliance to the statutory provisions which are contained in the Act and Rules."

The court while hearing a petition filed by All India Central Council Trade Unions, was informed that in respect of the incident which took place in Kalaburagi on January 28, 2021, in which two persons had died while allegedly being made to do manual scavenging, a charge-sheet has been filed after an investigation by the police. In respect of another incident of Ramanagara wherein three persons have died, after the filing of FIR, investigation is going on. "The entire investigation will be completed within 30 days." The court granted the police time to complete the investigation within 30 days.

Further, the court was informed that in respect of the Kalaburagi incident, Rs 10 lakh each has been provided to the families of the deceased. However, the state government has not taken steps for rehabilitation and benefits flowing out of the Act for the family. The counsel for Karnataka Urban Water Supply and Drainage Board informed the court that causal appointment is granted to legal heirs of the two workers who unfortunately expired in the incident.

The court then referred to Section 13 of the Act (Rehabilitation of persons identified as manual scavengers by a Municipality), which provides for allotment of residential plots and financial assistance for construction of the house and provides for a scholarship to children and one-time cash assistance. It said, "There are other steps which are also required to be undertaken by the state government. Except for granting 10 lakh and casual employment (daily wages) nothing is being done."

It also referred to Section 7 of the Act (Prohibition of persons from engagement or employment for hazardous cleaning of sewers and septic tanks) and said,

"Section 7 of the Act makes it very clear that, after commencement of Act or from such a date the state government may notify, which shall not be later than 1 year from date of commencement of the act, no person can be engaged for hazardous cleaning of sewer or septic tank. It is unfortunate that even when the act is in existence, its provisions are being violated by local bodies, by the state state government or by the contractors appointed by the local bodies."

It observed,

"In respect of Ramanagara incident which took place on June 4, 2021, after registrations of FIR investigation is ongoing and 30 days time is granted for completing the investigation. The respondent state has paid Rs 10 lakh compensation to the family of three workers in respect of deaths which have taken place in Ramanagara. However, other steps have not been taken as provided in section 13 of the Act."

It added,

"As the statutory provisions are not complied with and as the district magistrate of the concerned district is responsible for rehabilitation of such manual scavengers, the court is of the opinion that the district magistrates of both districts shall remain present before this court, on October 4, and in case statutory provisions are complied with a memo shall be filed reporting compliance of section 13, presence of both District magistrates, shall be exempted without leave of this court."

The court also directed the state government to file a detailed report in respect of why the survey is not completed in regards to the rehabilitation of manual scavengers, and also inform the reasons why the survey is not complete in spite of the statutory provisions which are in force from 2013.

Further, the court noted that,

"Rule 3 provides for the process for cleaning sewer or septic tanks. The persons who have lost their lives were certainly not wearing air purifier, gas mask and they were not properly equipped and therefore the State government and all local bodies of the state government are directed to ensure that in case a sewer has to be cleaned manually, no cleaning will take place without following statutory provisions under the Act and the Rules, especially from rule 3 to 8."

The court also directed the state government to file a detailed chart in respect of the equipment's which are provided under the rules, their availability in various local bodies and shall also ensure that they are made available if they are not available in the local bodies as it is mandatory for local bodies to possess the necessary equipments as provided under the Act and Rules.

The court concluded by saying,

"The Act provides that it is the duty of the district magistrates of the respective districts to ensure compliance of the act of 2013. Therefore, this order is passed directing district magistrates for reporting compliance of the Act."

The court granted the state government to file a compliance report in four weeks.

Case Title: All India Central Council Trade Unions And Union Of India

Case No: 8928/2020

Also Read: India's Manual Scavengers Have Been Forgotten In The Covid 19 Narrative

Has State Promoted Use Of Modern Technology To Replace Manual Scavenging? Karnataka High Court Asks

Click Here To Read/ Download Order



Next Story