SC orders center and states to ensure eradication of manual sewer cleaning

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Observing that a large segment of India’s population, involved in manual scavenging, has remained ignored and silenced, in captivity and systematically trapped in inhumane conditions, the Supreme Court has directed the Center and states to take appropriate measures , formulate policies and issue instructions to ensure that manual sewer cleaning is completely eradicated gradually.

The top court has asked the Center to issue guidelines and directions that any sewer cleaning work outsourced or to be carried out by or through contractors or agencies should not require people to enter sewers for any purpose.

Issuing a set of directions, a bench comprising Justices S. Ravindra Bhat (now retired) and Aravind Kumar asked the central and state governments to pay Rs 30 lakh as compensation to the family members of those who die while cleaning sewers.

“The court hereby directs the Union and the states to ensure that compensation for sewer deaths is increased (since the amount fixed earlier i.e. Rs 10 lakh was made applicable in 1993). The equivalent current of that amount is Rs 30. lakh.

“This will be the amount to be paid by the concerned agency i.e. the Union, Union Territory or the state, as the case may be. In other words, the compensation for sewage deaths will be Rs 30 lakh. In the case “The dependents of any victim have not been paid such amount, the previous amount will be paid to them. Furthermore, this will be the amount to be paid in future as compensation,” the court said.

The apex court directed all states and Union Territories to ensure that all departments, agencies and corporations ensure that the guidelines and instructions formulated by the Center are incorporated in their own guidelines and instructions.

“The Union, states and Union Territories should ensure that full rehabilitation measures (including employment for next of kin, education of wards and vocational training) are taken in respect of sewage workers already those who die,” he said.

The top court also ordered that in case of sewage victims suffering from any disability, the minimum compensation shall not be less than Rs 10 lakh.

If the disability is permanent and leaves the victim financially helpless, the compensation will not be less than Rs 20 lakh, he said.

“The appropriate government (i.e. Union, States or Union Territories) shall devise an appropriate mechanism to ensure accountability, especially where deaths occur in sewers in the course of contractual or ‘subcontracted’ works. This accountability will take the form of cancellation of the contract, immediately, and imposition of pecuniary liability, aimed at deterring the practice.

“The Union shall draw up a model contract, to be used whenever it or its agencies and corporations are required to award contracts, in the legislation concerned, such as the Contract Labor (Prohibition and Regulation Act) Act, 1970 or any other law requires that the standards, under the Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 and its rules, be strictly followed and in case of any mishap, the agency would lose its contract and possibly (invite) to be blacklisted “, said.

The National Commission for Safai Karamchari (NCSK), National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC), National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) and the Secretary of the Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment shall, within a period of three months, the modalities of conduct. from a national survey. Ideally, the study would be completed within the next year, the court stated.

“So that the survey does not suffer the same fate as the previous ones, suitable templates will be prepared to educate and train all concerned committees. The Union, States and Union Territories are required to create scholarships to ensure that people charge of “Sewer victims (who have died or may have suffered disabilities) receive a meaningful education,” he clarified.

The top court ordered that the National Legal Services Authority (NALSA) also be part of the consultations to formulate the aforementioned policies.

“It will also be involved in coordination with the state and district legal services committees for the planning and execution of the study. In addition, NALSA will develop appropriate models (in the light of its experience in relation to other models for the disbursement of compensation to victims of crimes) to facilitate the disbursement of compensation.

“The Union, States and Union Territories are hereby directed to ensure coordination with all commissions (NCSK, NCSC, NCST) to establish committees and commissions at the state and district levels within a time-bound period. Further , constant monitoring of the existence of vacancies and their occupation will be guaranteed,” he stated.

The NCSK, NCSC, NCST and the Union government are required to coordinate and prepare training and education modules for information and use by the district and state level agencies under the 2013 Act, the court said.

“A portal and dashboard containing all relevant information, including information relating to sewer deaths and victims, and the status of compensation disbursement as well as rehabilitation measures, will be developed and launched at a pace adopted and existing and available rehabilitation policies. early date,” he added.

The high court’s judgment came in the wake of a PIL seeking directions to the Center and states to implement the provisions of, among others, the Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, 1993 and the Law of 2013.

(Only the title and image of this report may have been modified by Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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