Safai Karamchari Andolan & Ors. Vs. Union of India & Ors.


Court :
Supreme Court of India

Brief :
The bench comprising of Chief Justice of India, P. Sathasivam, Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice N.V. Ramana, in a writ petition filed by Safai Karamchari Andolan, directed that the families of all persons who have died in sewerage work since 1993 to be awarded compensation of Rs.10 lakhs for each such death. The Court further directed all the State Governments and Union Territories to implement legislation for eradicating manual scavenging.

Citation :

        REPORTABLE

 

 IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

 CIVIL ORIGINAL JURISDICTION

WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO. 583 OF 2003

 

Safai Karamchari Andolan & Ors.        .... Petitioner (s)

Versus

Union of India & Ors.                                    .... Respondent(s)

     

WITH 

   CONTEMPT PETITION (C) NO. 132 OF 2012  

IN

WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO. 583 OF 2003

J U D G M E N T

P.Sathasivam, CJI.

1) The above writ petition has been filed by the petitioners 

as  a  Public  Interest  Litigation  under  Article  32  of  the 

Constitution  of  India  praying  for  issuance  of  a  writ  of 

mandamus to  the  respondent-Union  of  India,  State 

Governments  and Union Territories  to strictly  enforce  the 

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implementation of  the Employment  of  Manual  Scavengers 

and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act,  1993 (in 

short  ‘the  Act’),  inter  alia,  seeking  for  enforcement  of 

fundamental rights guaranteed under Articles 14, 17, 21 and 

47 of the Constitution of India.  

2) Brief facts:

(i) The inhuman practice of manually removing night soil 

which  involves  removal  of  human  excrements  from dry 

toilets with bare hands, brooms or metal scrappers; carrying 

excrements and baskets to dumping sites for disposal  is a 

practice that is still prevalent in many parts of the country. 

While  the  surveys  conducted  by  some  of  the  petitioner- 

organizations estimate that there are over 12 lakh manual 

scavengers undertaking the degrading human practice in the 

country, the official statistics issued by the Ministry of Social  

Justice and Empowerment for the year 2002-2003 puts the 

figure  of  identified  manual  scavengers  at  6,76,009.   Of 

these,  over  95%  are  Dalits  (persons  belonging  to  the 

scheduled  castes),  who  are  compelled  to  undertake  this 

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denigrating task under the garb of “traditional occupation”. 

The manual  scavengers are considered as untouchables by 

other  mainstream castes and are thrown into a vortex of 

severe social and economic exploitation.

(ii) The sub-Committee of  the Task Force constituted by 

the Planning Commission in 1989 estimated that there were 

72.05 lakhs dry latrines in the country.   These dry latrines 

have not only continued to exist till  date in several  States 

but have increased to 96 lakhs and are still  being cleaned 

manually by scavengers belonging to the Scheduled Castes.

(iii) National  Scheduled  Castes  and  Scheduled  Tribes 

Finance  and  Development  Corporation  was  set  up  in 

February,  1989  as  a  Government  company  to  provide 

financial  assistance  to  all  the  Scheduled  Castes  and 

Scheduled  Tribes  including  Safai  Karamcharis  for  their 

economic development.

(iv) The Government of India formulated a Scheme known 

as ‘Low Cost Sanitation for Liberation of Scavengers’ which is 

a centrally sponsored Scheme being implemented in 1989-

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90  for  elimination  of  manual  scavenging  by  converting 

existing dry latrines into low cost water pour flush latrines 

and also for construction of new sanitary latrines.

(v) With a view to eliminate manual scavenging, a Scheme 

known as ‘National Scheme of Liberation and Rehabilitation 

of Scavengers and their Dependents’ was launched in March 

1992  for  identification,  liberation  and  rehabilitation  of 

scavengers  and their  dependents  by providing alternative 

employment after giving the requisite training.

(vi) Based on earlier  experience and keeping in view the 

recommendations  of  the  National  Seminar  on  Rural 

Sanitation  held  in  September  1992,  a  new strategy  was 

adopted by the Government  of  India in March 1993.  The 

emphasis was now on providing sanitary latrines including 

the construction of  individual  sanitary latrines for  selected 

houses below the poverty line with subsidy of  80% of  the 

unit cost of Rs.2,500/-.

(vii) In  the  year  1993,  the  Parliament  enacted  the 

Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry 

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Latrines (Prohibition) Act, 1993 and it received the assent of 

the President  on 5

th

 June,  1993.  The long title of  the Act 

describes  it  as  an  Act  to  provide  for  the  prohibition  of 

employment of manual scavengers as well as construction or 

continuance  of  dry  latrines  and  for  the  regulation  of 

construction and maintenance of water-seal latrines and for 

matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

(viii) The Act,  which was  enacted in June 1993,  remained 

inoperative for about 3½ years.  It was finally brought into 

force in the year 1997.  In the first instance, the Act applied 

to  the  States  of  Andhra  Pradesh,  Goa,  Karnataka, 

Maharashta,  Tripura and West Bengal  and to all  the Union 

Territories.  It was expected that the remaining States would 

adopt  the  Act  subsequently  by  passing  appropriate 

resolution under Article 252 of the Constitution.  However, as 

noted by the National  Commission for Safai  Karamcharis-a 

statutory body,  set  up under  the National  Commission for 

Safai  Karamcharis  Act,  1993,  in  its  3

rd

 and  4

(combined) submitted to the Parliament, noted that the 1993 

Act was not being implemented effectively and further noted 

th

 Reports 

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that the estimated number of dry latrines in the country is 

96 lakhs and the estimated number of  manual  scavengers 

identified  is  5,77,228.   It  further  noted  that  manual 

scavengers were being employed in the military engineering 

works, the army, public sector undertakings, Indian Railways 

etc.

(ix) In 2003, a report was submitted by the Comptroller and 

Auditor General (CAG) which evaluated the ‘National Scheme 

for  Liberation  and  Rehabilitation  of  Scavengers  and  their 

Dependents’.   The conclusion of  the report  was  that  this 

Scheme “has failed to achieve its objectives even after 10 

years of implementation involving investment of more than 

Rs. 600 crores”.  It further pointed out that although funds 

were available for implementation of the Scheme, much of it 

were unspent or underutilized.   The Committees set up for 

monitoring the Scheme were non-functional.  It further noted 

that there was “lack of correspondence between ‘liberation’ 

and  ‘rehabilitation’  and  that  “there  was  no  evidence  to 

suggest  if  those  liberated  were  in  fact  rehabilitated”.   It 

concluded  that  “the  most  serious  lapse  in  the 

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conceptualization and operationalization of the Scheme was 

its failure to employ the law that prohibited the occupation…

the law was rarely used”. 

(x) In December, 2003 the Safai Karamchari Andolan along 

with six other  civil  society  organizations as well  as seven 

individuals  belonging  to  the  community  of  manual 

scavengers filed the present writ petition under Article 32 of 

the Constitution on the ground that the continuation of the 

practice of  manual  scavenging as well  as of dry latrines is 

illegal and unconstitutional since it violates the fundamental 

rights guaranteed under  Articles 14, 17, 21 and 23 of  the 

Constitution of India and the 1993 Act.  

3) We  have heard the arguments  advanced by  learned 

counsel for the parties and perused the records.

Relief sought for: 

4) The petitioners have approached this Court by way of 

writ petition in 2003, inter alia, seeking:

(i) to ensure complete eradication of Dry Latrines;

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(ii) to  declare  continuance  of  the  practice  of  manual 

scavenging and the operation of Dry Latrines violative 

of Articles 14, 17, 21 and 23 of the Constitution and the 

1993 Act;

(iii) to direct the respondents to adopt and implement the 

Act  and  to  formulate  detailed  plans,  on  time  bound 

basis,  for  complete  eradication of  practice of  manual 

scavenging and rehabilitation  of  persons  engaged in 

such practice;

(iv) to direct Union of India and State Governments to issue 

necessary directives to various Municipal Corporations, 

Municipalities and Nagar  Panchayats (all  local  bodies) 

to  strictly  implement  the  provisions  of  the  Act  and 

initiate prosecution against the violators; and

(v) to  file  periodical  Compliance  Reports  pursuant  to 

various directions issued by this Court.

Discussion:

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5) The practice of untouchability in general and of manual 

scavenging  in  particular  was  deprecated  in  no  uncertain 

terms  by  Dr.  B.R.  Ambedkar,  Chairman  of  the  Drafting 

Committee  of  the  Constitution  of  India.   Accordingly,  in 

Chapter  III  of  the  Constitution,  Article  17  abolished 

untouchability which states as follows:

“Abolition of  Untouchability:  “Untouchability” is abolished

and its practice in any form is forbidden.  The enforcement

of any disability arising out of “Untouchability” shall be an

offence punishable in accordance with law.”

 6) Article 17 of the Constitution was initially implemented 

through the enactment of the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 

1955 (formerly known as the Untouchability (Offences) Act, 

1955).   Section 7A of  the said Act  provides that  whoever 

compels any person on the ground of  untouchability to do 

any  scavenging  shall  be  deemed  to  have  enforced  a 

disability  arising out  of  untouchability  which is punishable 

with imprisonment.  While these constitutional and statutory 

provisions  were  path  breaking  in  themselves,  they  were 

found to be inadequate in addressing the continuation of the 

obnoxious practice of manual scavenging across the country, 

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a  practice  squarely  rooted  in  the  concept  of  the  caste-

system and untouchability. 

7) Apart  from the provisions of  the Constitution,  there are 

various  international  conventions  and covenants  to  which 

India is  a party,  which prescribe the inhuman practice of 

manual scavenging.  These are the Universal Declaration of 

Human Rights (UDHR),  Convention on Elimination of  Racial 

Discrimination (CERD) and the Convention for Elimination of 

all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW).   The 

relevant  provisions  of  the  UDHR,  CERD  and  CEDAW are 

hereunder:

“Article 1 of UDHR

All  human beings are born free and equal  in dignity and 

rights.  They are endowed with reason and conscience and

should act towards one another in spirit of brotherhood.

Article 2(1) of UDHR

Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedom set forth 

in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as

race,  colour,  sex,  language,  religion,  political  or  other

opinion, national  or  social  origin, property,  birth or  other

status.

Article 23(3) of UDHR

Everyone who works  has  a right  to  just  and favourable 

remuneration  enduring  for  himself  and  his  family  an 

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existence worthy of  human dignity  and supplemented,  if

necessary, by other means of social protection.”

“Article 5(a) of CEDAW

States Parties shall take all appropriate measures

a) to modify the social and cultural patterns of conduct 

of  men  and  women,  with  a  view  to  achieving  the

elimination  of  prejudices  and  customary  and  all  other

practices which are based on the idea of the inferiority or

the superiority  of  either  of  the sexes  or  on stereotyped

roles for men and women.

Article 2 of CERD

Article 2(1)(c)

States  parties  condemn  racial  discrimination  and 

undertake to pursue by all appropriate means and without

delay a policy of eliminating racial discrimination in all its

forms and promoting understanding among all  races, and

to his end:

(c)   each  State  party  shall  take  effective  measures  to

review governmental,  national  and local  policies,  and to

amend,  rescind or nullify any laws and regulations which

have  the  effect  of  creating  on  perpetuating  racial

discrimination wherever it exists;

(d) each State party shall prohibit and bring to an end, by

all appropriate means, including legislation as required by

circumstances, racial discrimination by any persons, group

or organization.”

The above provisions of the International  Covenants,  which 

have been ratified by India,  are binding to the extent that 

they are not inconsistent with the provisions of the domestic 

law.

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8) From 2003 till date, this writ petition was treated as a 

continuing mandamus.  Several orders have been passed by 

this Court having far reaching implications.  The petitioners 

have brought to focus the non-adoption of the Act by various 

States  which  led  to  ratification  of  the  Act  by  State 

Assemblies (including the Delhi Assembly which ratified the 

Act  as  late  as  in  2010).   The  Union  Government,  State 

Governments as well as the petitioners have filed affidavits 

from time to time as per the directions of this Court and also 

as to the compliance of those orders.  

9) This Court has, on several occasions, directed the Union 

and State Governments to take steps towards the monitoring 

and  implementation  of  the  Act.   Various  orders  have 

gradually pushed the State Governments  to ratify the law 

and appoint Executive Authorities under the Act.  Under the 

directions of this Court,  the States are obligated by law to 

collect data and monitor the implementation of the Act.

10) Due to mounting pressure of this Court, in March, 2013, 

the  Central  Government  announced  a  ‘Survey  of  Manual 

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Scavengers’.   The survey,  however,  was  confined only to 

3546  statutory  towns  and  did not  extend to  rural  areas. 

Even with this limited mandate, as per the information with 

Petitioner  No.  1,  the  survey  has  shown  remarkably  little 

progress.  State records in the “Progress Report of Survey of 

Manual Scavengers and their Dependents” dated 27.02.2014 

show that they have only been able to identify a miniscule 

proportion  of  the  number  of  people  actually  engaged  in 

manual scavenging.  For instance, the petitioners, with their 

limited resources, have managed to identify 1098 persons in 

manual  scavenging  in  the  State  of  Bihar.   The  Progress 

Report dated 27.02.2014 claims to have identified only 136. 

In the State of Rajasthan, the petitioners have identified 816 

manual scavengers whereas the Progress Report of the State 

dated 27.02.2014 has identified only 46.

11) The aforesaid data collected by the petitioners makes it 

abundantly  clear  that  the  practice  of  manual  scavenging 

continues  unabated.   Dry  latrines  continue  to  exist 

notwithstanding the fact that the 1993 Act was in force for 

nearly two decades.  States have acted in denial of the 1993 

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Act and the constitutional mandate to abolish untouchability. 

12) For over a decade, this Court issued various directions 

and sought  for  compliance from all  the States  and Union 

Territories.  Due to effective intervention and directions of 

this Court,  the Government  of  India brought  an Act called 

“The Prohibition of Employment as Manual  Scavengers and 

their Rehabilitation Act,  2013” for abolition of this evil  and 

for  the  welfare  of  manual  scavengers.   The  Act  got  the 

assent  of  the President  on 18.09.2013.  The enactment  of 

the  aforesaid  Act,  in  no  way,  neither  dilutes  the 

constitutional mandate of Article 17 nor does it condone the 

inaction on the part of Union and State Governments under 

the 1993 Act.   What  the 2013 Act  does  in addition is  to 

expressly acknowledge Article 17 and Article 21 rights of the 

persons engaged in sewage cleaning and cleaning tanks as 

well persons cleaning human excreta on railway tracks.

13) Learned Additional Solicitor General has brought to our 

notice  various  salient  features  of  the  Act  which  are  as 

under:-

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(i) The above-said Act has been enacted to provide for the 

prohibition  of  employment  as  manual  scavengers, 

rehabilitation of manual  scavengers and their families, 

and  for  matters  connected  therewith  or  incidental 

thereto.

(ii) Chapter  I  of  the  Act  inter  alia  provides  for  the 

definitions of “hazardous cleaning”, “insanitary latrine” 

and “manual scavenger” as contained in Sections 2(1)

(d), (e) and (g) thereof respectively.  

(iii) Chapter  II  of  the  Act  contains  provisions  for 

Identification of Insanitary latrines.  Section 4(1) of the 

Act reads as under:

“4 -  Local authorities to survey insanitary latrines

and provide sanitary community latrines

(1) Every local authority shall,-(a)

carry

out

a

survey

of

insanitary

latrines

existing

within

 

its

jurisdiction,

and

publish

a

list

of

such

insanitary

latrines,

 

in

 

such manner as may be prescribed,  within a period of

two months from the date of commencement of this Act;

(b) give a notice to the occupier,  within fifteen days from

the date of publication of the list under clause (a), to either

demolish the insanitary latrine or convert it into a sanitary

latrine,  within  a  period  of  six  months  from the  date  of

commencement of this Act:

Provided that the local authority may for sufficient reasons

to  be  recorded  in  writing  extend  the  said  period  not

exceeding three months;

(c) construct, within a period not  exceeding nine months

from the date of commencement of this Act, such number 

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of sanitary community latrines as it considers necessary, in

the areas where insanitary latrines have been found.”

(iv) Chapter III of the Act contains provisions for prohibition 

of  insanitary latrines and employment and engagement  as 

manual  scavenger.  Sections 5,  6 and 7 of the Act read as 

under:

“5  -  Prohibition  of  insanitary  latrines  and

employment and engagement of manual scavenger

(1)  Notwithstanding  anything  inconsistent  therewith

contained in the Employment of  Manual  Scavengers and

Construction of  Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, 1993(46 of

1993), no person, local authority or any agency shall, after

the date of commencement of this Act,-(a)

construct

an

insanitary

latrine;

or

(b)

 engage  or  employ,  either  directly  or  indirectly,  a

manual  scavenger,  and  every  person  so  engaged  or

employed  shall  stand  discharged  immediately  from any

obligation, express or implied, to do manual scavenging.

(2)  Every  insanitary  latrine  existing  on  the  date  of

commencement of this Act, shall  either be demolished or

be converted into a sanitary latrine, by the occupier at his

own cost,  before the expiry of  the period so specified in

clause (b) of sub-section (1) of section 4:

Provided that where there are several occupiers in relation

to an insanitary latrine, the liability to demolish or convert

it shall lie with,-(a)

the

owner

of

the

premises,

in

case

one

of

the

occupiers

 

happens

to

be

the

owner;

and

(b)

 all  the  occupiers,  jointly  and  severally,  in  all  other

cases:

Provided that the State Government may give assistance

for conversion of insanitary latrines into sanitary latrines to

occupiers  from such categories  of  persons  and on such

scale, as it may, by notification, specify:

Provided further that non-receipt of State assistance shall

not  be a valid ground to  maintain or  use an insanitary

latrine, beyond the said period of nine months.

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(3) If any occupier fails to demolish an insanitary latrine or

convert it into a sanitary latrine within the period specified

in sub-section (2),  the  local  authority  having jurisdiction

over the area in which such insanitary latrine is situated,

shall, after giving notice of not less than twenty one days

to the occupier, either convert such latrine into a sanitary

latrine,  or  demolish such insanitary latrine,  and shall  be

entitled to recover the cost of such conversion or,  as the

case may be,  of  demolition,  from such occupier  in such

manner as may be prescribed.

6 - Contract, agreement, etc., to be void

(1)  Any contract, agreement or  other instrument entered

into or executed before the date of commencement of this

Act,  engaging or  employing a person for  the purpose of

manual scavenging shall, on the date of commencement of

this Act, be terminated and such contract,  agreement or

other  instrument  shall  be  void  and  inoperative  and  no

compensation shall be payable therefor.

(2) Notwithstanding anything contained in sub-section (1),

no person employed or engaged as a manual scavenger on

a full-time basis shall  be retrenched by his employer,  but

shall be retained, subject to his willingness, in employment

on at least the same emoluments,  and shall  be assigned

work other than manual scavenging.

7  -  Prohibition  of  persons  from  engagement  or

employment  for  hazardous cleaning of  sewers and

septic tanks

No person, local  authority or any agency shall, from such

date as the State Government may notify, which shall not

be later than one year from the date of commencement of

this Act, engage or employ, either directly or indirectly, any

person for hazardous cleaning of a sewer or a septic tank.”

(v) Sections 8 and 9 of the Act provide for penal provisions 

which read as under:

8 - Penalty for contravention of section 5 or section

6

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Page 17

Whoever contravenes the provisions of section 5 or section

6  shall  for  the  first  contravention  be  punishable  with

imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year or

with fine which may extend to fifty thousand rupees or with

both,  and  for  any  subsequent  contravention  with

imprisonment which may extend to two years or with fine

which may extend to one lakh rupees, or with both.

9 - Penalty for contravention of section 7

Whoever contravenes the provisions of section 7 shall  for

the first contravention be punishable with imprisonment for

a term which may extend to two years or with fine which

may extend to two lakh rupees or with both, and for any

subsequent  contravention with  imprisonment  which  may

extend to five years or with fine which may extend to five

lakh rupees, or with both.

(vi) Chapter IV of the Act contains provisions with respect to 

identification of manual scavengers in Urban and Rural Areas 

and also provides for their rehabilitation.  Section 13 of the 

Act reads as under;

“13 - Rehabilitation of persons identified as manual

scavengers by a Municipality

(1)  Any  person  included  in  the  final  list  of  manual

scavengers  published in pursuance of  sub-section (6)  of

section 11 or added thereto in pursuance of sub-section (3)

of  section  12,  shall  be  rehabilitated  in  the  following

manner, namely:-(a)

he

shall

be

given,

within

one

month,-(i)

a

photo

identity

card,

containing,

inter

alia,

details

of

all

 

members

of

his

family

dependent

on

him,

and

(ii)

 such  initial,  one  time,  cash  assistance,  as  may  be

prescribed;

(b) his children shall  be entitled to scholarship as per the

relevant scheme of  the Central  Government or the State

Government or the local authorities, as the case may be;

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(c)  he  shall  be  allotted  a  residential  plot  and  financial

assistance for house construction, or a ready-built house,

with  financial  assistance,  subject  to  eligibility  and

willingness of the manual scavenger, and the provisions of

the  relevant  scheme of  the  Central  Government  or  the

State Government or the concerned local authority;

(d) he, or at least one adult member of his family, shall be

given,  subject  to  eligibility  and willingness,  training in a

livelihood skill, and shall be paid a monthly stipend of not

less than three thousand rupees, during the period of such

training;

(e) he, or at least one adult member of his family, shall be

given,  subject  to  eligibility  and willingness,  subsidy  and

concessional  loan for taking up an alternative occupation

on  a  sustainable  basis,  in  such  manner  as  may  be

stipulated  in  the  relevant  scheme  of  the  Central

Government  or  the  State  Government  or  the  concerned

local authority;

(f) he shall be provided such other legal and programmatic

assistance,  as  the  Central  Government  or  State

Government may notify in this behalf.

(2) The District Magistrate of the district concerned shall be

responsible for rehabilitation of each manual scavenger in

accordance with the provisions of sub-section (1) and the

State  Government  or  the  District  Magistrate  concerned

may,  in addition,  assign responsibilities  in his  behalf  to

officers  subordinate  to  the  District  Magistrate  and  to

officers of the concerned Municipality.”

(vii) Chapter  V of  the  Act  provides  for  the  implementing 

mechanism.  Sections 17 to 20 read as under:

17  -  Responsibility  of  local  authorities  to  ensure

elimination of insanitary latrines

Notwithstanding anything contained in any other  law for

the  time being in force,  it  shall  be the responsibility  of

every  local  authority  to  ensure,  through  awareness

campaign or in such other manner that after the expiry of

a period of nine months, from the date of commencement

of this Act,--

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Page 19

(i) no insanitary latrine is constructed, maintained or used

within its jurisdiction; and

(ii)  in case of  contravention of  clause (i),  action is taken

against the occupier under sub-section (3) of section 5.

18  -  Authorities  who  may  be  specified  for

implementing provisions of this Act

The appropriate Government may confer such powers and

impose  such  duties  on  local  authority  and  District

Magistrate  as  may  be  necessary  to  ensure  that  the

provisions of this Act are properly carried out, and a local

authority  and  the  District  Magistrate  may,  specify  the

subordinate officers,  who shall  exercise all  or  any of  the

powers, and perform all or any of the duties, so conferred

or imposed, and the local limits within which such powers

or duties shall  be carried out by the officer or officers so

specified.

19  -  Duty  of  District  Magistrate  and  authorised

officers

The District Magistrate and the authority authorised under

section 18 or  any other  subordinate officers specified by

them under that section shall ensure that, after the expiry

of such period as specified for the purpose of this Act,-(a)

 no  person  is  engaged  or  employed  as  manual

scavenger within their jurisdiction;

(b) no one constructs, maintains, uses or makes available

for use, an insanitary latrine;

(c)  manual  scavengers  identified  under  this  Act  are

rehabilitated in accordance with section 13, or as the case

may be, section 16;

(d)  persons  contravening  the  provisions  of  section  5 or

section  6  or  section  7 are  investigated and prosecuted

under the provisions of this Act; and

(e)  all  provisions  of  this  Act  applicable  within  his

jurisdiction are duly complied with.

20 - Appointment of inspectors and their powers

(1)  The  appropriate  Government  may,  by  notification,

appoint such persons as it thinks fit to be inspectors for the 

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Page 20

purposes  of  this  Act,  and  define  the  local  limits  within

which they shall exercise their powers under this Act…”

(viii) Chapter VII of the Act provides for the establishment of 

Vigilance and Monitoring Committees in the following terms:

“24 - Vigilance Committees

(1)  Every  State  Government  shall,  by  notification,

constitute a Vigilance Committee for each district and each

Sub-Division.

(2) Each Vigilance Committee constituted for a district shall

consist of the following members, namely:-(a)

the

District

Magistrate--Chairperson,

ex

officio;…

25 - Functions of Vigilance Committee

The functions of Vigilance Committee shall be-(a)

to

advise

the

District

Magistrate

or,

as

the

case

may

be,

 

the

Sub-Divisional

Magistrate,

on

the

action

which

needs

to

 

be

taken,

to

ensure

that

the

provisions

of

this

Act

or

of

any

 

rule

made

thereunder

are

properly

implemented;

(b)

 to  oversee the  economic  and social  rehabilitation of

manual scavengers;

(c) to co-ordinate the functions of all  concerned agencies

with  a  view  to  channelise  adequate  credit  for  the

rehabilitation of manual scavengers;

(d)  to monitor  the registration of  offences under this Act

and their investigation and prosecution.

26 - State Monitoring Committee

 (1)  Every  State  Government  shall,  by  notification,

constitute a State Monitoring Committee, consisting of the

following members, namely:-(a)

the

Chief

Minister

of

State

or

a

Minister

nominated

by

 

him--Chairperson,

ex

officio;…

27 - Functions of the State Monitoring Committee

The functions of the State Monitoring Committee shall be-(a)

to

monitor

and

advise

the

State

Government

and

local

 

authorities

for

effective

implementation

of

this

Act;

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Page 21

(b) to co-ordinate the functions of all concerned agencies;

(c)  to  look  into  any  other  matter  incidental  thereto  or

connected therewith for implementation of this Act.

*** *** ***

29 - Central Monitoring Committee

(1)  The  Central  Government  shall,  by  notification,

constitute a Central  Monitoring Committee in accordance

with the provisions of this section.

(2) The Central  Monitoring Committee shall  consist of the

following members, namely:-(a)

 The  Union  Minister  for  Social  Justice  and

Empowerment--Chairperson, ex officio;…

30 - Functions of the Central Monitoring Committee

The functions  of  the Central  Monitoring Committee shall

be,-(a)

 to  monitor  and advise  the  Central  Government  and

State Government for effective implementation of this Act

and related laws and programmes;…

31  -  Functions  of  National  Commission  for  Safai

Karamcharis

(1)  The National  Commission for  Safai  Karamcharis shall

perform the following functions, namely:-(a)

to

monitor

the

implementation

of

this

Act;

(b)

 

to enquire into complaints regarding contravention of

the provisions of this Act, and to convey its findings to the

concerned  authorities  with  recommendations  requiring

further action; and

(c) to advise the Central  and the State Governments for

effective implementation of the provisions of this Act.

(d)  to  take  suo  motu  notice  of  matter  relating  to  nonimplementation

of

this

Act.”

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Page 22

(ix) Chapter  VIII  of  the  Act  contains  miscellaneous 

provisions.  Section 33 of the Act provides for duty of local 

authorities and other agencies to use modern technology for 

cleaning of sewers, etc.  Section 36 of the Act provides that 

the  appropriate  Government  shall,  by  notification,  makes 

rules  for  carrying  out  the  provisions  of  the  Act  within  a 

period not exceeding three months.  Section 37 of the Act 

provides that the Central Government shall, by notification, 

publish model  rules for the guidance and use of  the State 

Governments. 

14) We have already noted various provisions of the 2013 

Act and also in the light of various orders of this Court, we 

issue the following directions:-

(i) The  persons  included  in  the  final  list  of  manual 

scavengers under Sections 11 and 12 of the 2013 Act, shall 

be rehabilitated as per the provisions of Part IV of the 2013 

Act, in the following manner, namely:-

(a)  such initial, one time, cash assistance, as may be 

prescribed;

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Page 23

(b) their  children shall  be entitled to  scholarship as 

per the relevant scheme of the Central Government or 

the State Government  or the local  authorities,  as the 

case may be;

(c) they  shall  be  allotted  a  residential  plot  and 

financial assistance for house construction, or a ready-

built  house  with  financial  assistance,  subject  to 

eligibility and willingness of  the manual  scavenger as 

per the provisions of the relevant scheme;

(d) at  least  one  member  of  their  family,  shall  be 

given,  subject to eligibility and willingness,  training in 

livelihood  skill  and  shall  be  paid  a  monthly  stipend 

during such period;

(e) at least one adult member of their family, shall be 

given, subject to eligibility and willingness, subsidy and 

concessional  loan  for  taking  up  an  alternative 

occupation on sustainable basis,  as per the provisions 

of the relevant scheme;

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Page 24

(f) shall  be  provided  such  other  legal  and 

programmatic assistance, as the Central Government or 

State Government may notify in this behalf.

(ii) If the practice of manual scavenging has to be brought 

to a close and also to prevent future generations from the 

inhuman  practice  of  manual  scavenging,  rehabilitation  of 

manual scavengers will need to include:-

(a) Sewer deaths – entering sewer lines without safety 

gears  should  be  made  a  crime  even  in  emergency 

situations.   For each such death,  compensation of  Rs. 

10 lakhs should be given to the family of the deceased. 

(b) Railways – should take time bound strategy to end 

manual scavenging on the tracks.

(c) Persons released from manual  scavenging should 

not  have  to  cross  hurdles  to  receive  what  is  their 

legitimate due under the law.

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Page 25

(d) Provide  support  for  dignified  livelihood  to  safai 

karamchari  women in accordance with their choice of 

livelihood schemes.

(iii) Identify the families  of  all  persons who have died in 

sewerage  work  (manholes,  septic  tanks)  since  1993  and 

award compensation of Rs.10 lakhs for each such death to 

the family members depending on them.

(iv) Rehabilitation must be based on the principles of justice 

and transformation.  

15) In the light of various provisions of the Act referred to 

above and the Rules in addition to various directions issued 

by this Court,  we hereby direct all  the State Governments 

and the Union Territories to fully implement the same and 

take appropriate action for  non-implementation as well  as 

violation  of  the  provisions  contained  in  the  2013  Act. 

Inasmuch as the Act 2013 occupies the entire field, we are of 

the view that no further monitoring is required by this Court. 

However, we once again reiterate that the duty is cast on all 

the States and the Union Territories to fully implement and 

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Page 26

to  take action against  the violators.   Henceforth,  persons 

aggrieved  are  permitted  to  approach  the  authorities 

concerned at the first instance and thereafter the High Court 

having jurisdiction.

16) With the above direction,  the writ petition is disposed 

of.  No order is required in the contempt petition.

NEW DELHI;

MARCH 27, 2014.

……….…………………………CJI. 

                (P. SATHASIVAM)                                 

        ………….…………………………J. 

               (RANJAN GOGOI)                                  

………….…………………………J. 

               (N.V. RAMANA)                                  

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Page 27

 

Vineet Kumar
on 31 March 2014
Published in Constitutional Law
Views : 1030


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