The Supreme Court on Tuesday pulled up the Haridwar district magistrate for filing an “incorrect” affidavit that there is no manual scavenging in the temple town but spared him of contempt of court.
“Do not mess up your life,” the court told the IAS officer Sachin Kurve, who was present in the court after he was summoned on December 4.
A Bench of Justices Swatanter Kumar and Madan B. Lokur also drew the attention of the officer to reports of Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh, apologising for the existence of manual scavenging in the country.
“Even your central minister has apologised for the existence of manual scavenging if the press reports are right,” the Bench said, referring to media reports on Ramesh apologising on Monday to the nation on the issue of manual scavenging.
It directed the officer to personally visit the places where manual scavenging is prevalent and take immediate steps for scavengers’ rehabilitation.
At one stage, the court said, “He must face the consequences for telling a lie to the court,” but let him off with a warning.
“Please take care. You are a young officer. Do not mess up your life,” the Bench told the officer.
“It is a matter of great concern that such a senior official placed an incorrect affidavit,” the Bench said, adding, “Usually, we would have taken action under contempt of court, but we are giving him another chance.”
The court said all dry latrines in the area must be replaced with flush latrines.
The Bench had on December 4 summoned the district magistrate to appear on Tuesday for filing the false affidavit.
In the affidavit, the magistrate had said there was no manual scavenger in his district, which was refuted by Safai Karamchari Andolan. The NGO alleged there are around 174 manual scavengers in the district.
Taking exception to the contradictory affidavit, a Bench had asked the magistrate and the head of the NGO to appear before it.