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

Manual Scavenging Most Inhuman; Violates Article 21 : Karnataka High Court Issues Directions To Implement Manual Scavengers Act 2013

Mustafa Plumber
10 Dec 2020 4:03 AM GMT
Manual Scavenging Most Inhuman; Violates Article 21 : Karnataka High Court Issues Directions To Implement Manual Scavengers Act 2013
x

The Karnataka High Court on Wednesday issued several directions to the state government to ensure proper implementation of the provisions of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013. A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice S Vishwajith Shetty, while hearing a petition filed by All India Council of Trade Unions(AICTU) and...

The Karnataka High Court on Wednesday issued several directions to the state government to ensure proper implementation of the provisions of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013.

A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice S Vishwajith Shetty, while hearing a petition filed by All India Council of Trade Unions(AICTU) and High Court Legal  Services Committee, observed :

"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 court also highlighted the major difference between the old act (Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, 1993) and the Act of 2013. It said that the definition of 'manual scavenger' in the Manual Scavengers Act is much wider than the definition of 'manual scavenger' defined under clause (j) of Section 2 of the old Act.

"Under sub-section (1) of Section 5 of the Manual Scavengers Act, there is a complete prohibition on manual scavenging. Under Section 3 of the old Act, the State Government was required to issue a notification for prohibiting engagement or employment of any person for manual scavenging", the Court said.

It added "Thus, under the old Act, the prohibition was not automatic. The provisions of the new Act are more comprehensive."

On going through past orders passed by the courts and compliance reports filed the bench said:

"We have found that there is hardly any implementation of the provisions of the Manual Scavengers Act and the Rules in the State of Karnataka. Therefore, this is a case where continuous monitoring will be necessary and the power of issuing continuing mandamus will have to be exercised."

Accordingly, the bench issued the following directions:

*The State Government shall place on record the details about the number of First Information Reports registered for the offences punishable under the Manual Scavengers Act, the details of the cases in which charge sheets were filed, the details of the cases which are pending and the details of the Cases which resulted in conviction. The figures of cases which resulted into acquittal shall be also placed on record.

*The State Government shall place on record the compliance of the decisions taken in the meeting held on 23rd February 2018 under the Chairmanship of the then Additional Chief Secretary.

*The State Government shall produce necessary material to show that the District Level Survey Committees as contemplated by sub-clause (c) of Rule 2 of the Manual Scavengers Rules have been duly constituted. The State Government shall also call for the data from all the Districts for ascertaining whether the District Level Survey Committees have conducted surveys of manual scavengers and whether the Committees have published the final list of Manual Scavengers of the respective Districts.

*The State Government shall place on record the necessary details as regards the constitution of the State Level Survey Committees as well as the details regarding the number of meetings of the State Level Survey Committee has held and the gist of functions so far discharged by the State level Committee;

*The State Government shall place on record comprehensive data about the survey of insanitary latrines throughout the State and the details about the conversion/demolition of insanitary latrines;

*The State Government shall place on record the details relating to final publication of the District-wise final lists of Manual Scavengers and the publication of State level final list of Manual Scavengers

*The State Government shall issue directions to all the Local Authorities to implement the provisions of the Manual Scavengers Act and the Rules by specifically referring to the obligations and duties under various provisions. The compliance by the Local Authorities shall be monitored regularly by the State Level Monitoring Committee.

*The State Government shall direct all the Local Authorities to comply with the obligations under subsections (2) and (3) of Section 4 and to immediately ascertain the requirement of number of sanitary community latrines within their respective jurisdictions and thereafter, make construction of such latrines. The data of such community sanitary latrines constructed in the State shall be placed on record;

*The State Government shall immediately initiate an awareness campaign on a large scale for elimination of the practice of open defecation and ensure that all Local Authorities comply with their obligation of eliminating the practice of open defecation in their jurisdiction. The State Government shall take help of NGOs and the Karnataka State Legal Services Authority to conduct the campaigns in rural areas;

*The State Government shall place on record the steps taken for rehabilitation of manual scavengers as provided in Section 13 by stating whether there are any Schemes of Central and State Government for rehabilitation of the manual scavengers as contemplated by Section 13.

*The Karnataka High Court Legal Services Committee and all the District Legal Services Authorities will be entitled to convene meetings of all the stakeholders for assisting them for making compliance with the directions issued by this Court and for implementation of the Manual Scavengers Act and the Rules framed thereunder.

The court has directed the State Government to file compliance affidavits on or before 30th January 2021. The matter will be heard next on February 2, 2021.

Click Here To Download Order

[Read Order]



Next Story