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Issue Directions To All Authorities To Stop Manual Scavenging : Karnataka High Court Directs State Govt

Mustafa Plumber
17 Feb 2021 12:37 PM GMT
Issue Directions To All Authorities To Stop Manual Scavenging : Karnataka High Court Directs State Govt
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The Karnataka High Court on Wednesday suggested to the State government to consider issuing a general direction to all authorities and agencies and instrumentalities of the state for implementation of Rule 3, of The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Rules, 2013. The rule states that no person shall be allowed to clean a sewer manually, with...

The Karnataka High Court on Wednesday suggested to the State government to consider issuing a general direction to all authorities and agencies and instrumentalities of the state for implementation of Rule 3, of The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Rules, 2013. The rule states that no person shall be allowed to clean a sewer manually, with protective gear and safety devices, with a few exceptions.

A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum said "The state government shall consider issuing a general direction to all Urban and Rural local authorities as well as all agencies and instrumentalities of the state for implementation of Rule 3 of the said Rules of 2013. The State government shall also consider issuing a direction that whenever authorities appoint contractors, condition of complying with Rule 3, should be incorporated in the contract for work order."

Rule 3 reads thus:

3. (1) No person shall be allowed to clean a sewer manually, with protective gear and safety devices under these rules except :-

(a) for the removal of concrete or FRP (Fibre Reinforced Plastic) or damaged manhole door where mechanical equipment cannot be put into operation.

(b) for inter-linking the newly laid sewer main with the existing sewer main, in case of sewer of size of more than 300 mm diameter.

(c) for removal of submersible pump sets fixed at the bottom of the suction wells.

(d) for the reconstruction of the manhole or rectification of the sewer main.

(2) For the purposes of clauses (c) and (d) of sub-rule (1), before allowing entry of a person in the sewer, sewage shall be totally emptied.

On the previous hearing, the court had directed the State government to produce the investigation report carried out by the police in the First Information report registered following the death of two persons-- Lal Ahmed (30) and Rasheed Ahmed (25), residents of Azadpur Road in Kalaburagi who were working as labourers with Karnataka Urban Water Supply and Drainage Board (KUWSDB) allegedly while being made to do manual scavenging on January 28.

On going through the report the court noted that a report has not been received from the Forensic Science Laboratory and the police are awaiting for doctors opinion on the final cause of death. The bench thus directed the state government to expedite the submission of report of FSL. A report on further investigation and FSL report and doctors final opinion, shall be submitted to court on March 1, in a sealed envelope." It orally observed that "Depending upon that (report and doctors opinion) it will have to be decided whether section 304 of IPC can be applied."

The bench also directed the KARNATAKA URBAN WATER SUPPLY AND DRAINAGE BOARD to place on record compliance with the assurance given to provide outsource employment to spouses of deceased on compassionate ground.

Advocate Clifton D Rozario appearing for the petitioner ALL INDIA CENTRAL COUNCIL TRADE UNIONS informed the court that the show cause notice issued by the authority to its officers, it is said that the deceased slipped into the manhole and passed away. How can a show cause notice take this stand?

The court agreed with the submission and directed the authority to explain why it has issued a show cause notice to its officers that death was due to accidental fall in the manhole."

Earlier, the court had pulled up the state government saying "There is absolutely no compliance with the provisions of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 and the Rules framed thereunder."

The court had in its interim order issued several directions to the state government and observed that "There can be no dispute that our constitutional philosophy does not permit any form of manual scavenging. Right of a citizen to live with dignity is an integral part of the fundamental rights guaranteed to the citizens under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. The preamble of the Constitution shows that the Constitution seeks to protect the dignity of an individual. There can be no dispute that manual scavenging is most inhuman and it infringes the fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 21."

The bench held that "If any citizen is forced to do manual scavenging, it will be a gross violation of his fundamental right conferred under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. Under Article 47 of the Constitution of India which is a part of Directive Principles of the State Policy, the State is under an obligation to endeavor to improve the standard of living of its people."

The matter will now be heard on March 1


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