Supreme Court orders States to abolish manual scavenging

Updated - May 19, 2016 12:01 pm IST

Published - March 27, 2014 09:00 pm IST - New Delhi

Deprecating the practice of manually removing night soil with bare hands, brooms or metal scrappers, the Supreme Court on Thursday directed all the States to abolish manual scavenging and take steps for rehabilitation of such workers.

A three-judge Bench comprising Chief Justice P. Sathasivam and Justices Ranjan Gogoi and N.V. Ramana, while disposing of a writ petition filed by the Safai Karamchari Andolan, and others, said: “Manual scavengers are considered as untouchables by other mainstream castes and are thrown into a vortex of severe social and economic exploitation. Dry latrines have not only continued to exist till date in several States, but have increased to 96 lakh and are still being cleaned manually by scavengers belonging to the Scheduled Castes.”

With a view to bringing to a close the practice of manual scavenging and also to prevent future generations from the inhuman practice, the Bench gave a series of direction to all the States for implementation of this law and for the rehabilitation of manual scavengers.

The Bench said, “For sewer deaths, entering sewer lines without safety gears should be made a crime even in emergency situations.

For each such death, a compensation of Rs. 10 lakh should be given to the family of the deceased; railways should take time-bound strategy to end manual scavenging on the tracks; persons released from manual scavenging should not have to cross hurdles to receive what is their legitimate due under the law, safai karamchari women should be provided support for dignified livelihood in accordance with their choice of livelihood schemes.”

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