The bench observed that District Magistrates bear the responsibility of ensuring that those engaged in manual scavenging are rehabilitated.

Karnataka High CourtPTI
news Court Wednesday, September 01, 2021 - 18:18

The Karnataka High Court pulled up all District Magistrates in the state over flouting norms under the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013. The court, on August 30, ordered the District Magistrates to ensure that manual scavenging is not practiced in the state, reported LiveLaw. A division bench of Acting Chief Justice Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by the All India Central Council of Trade Unions regarding the death of two persons allegedly due to manual scavenging in Kalaburagi in January 2021.

The bench observed that District Magistrates bear the responsibility of ensuring that those engaged in manual scavenging are rehabilitated, and directed the Magistrates to create awareness among officials to follow the rules of the Act. It further noted that non-compliance of the Act “shall be exposing all district magistrates for contempt of court proceedings.”

In January, 2021, two persons died while they were engaged in manual scavenging in Karnataka’s Kalaburagi district. In June, three sanitation workers in Ramanagara district died due to asphyxiation while indulging in manual scavenging as well. 

Read: ‘Call them murders’: 75 manual scavenging deaths in K’taka in 10 yrs, zero convictions

The High Court noted that, in the case of the Kalaburagi deaths, the state government disbursed a compensation of Rs 10 lakh to the kin of the victims. However, apart from casual  employment for them and cash compensation, nothing was done by the government, Bar and Bench quoted the bench as saying. 

The bench directed the state government to present a chart of the necessary equipment listed in the rules of the Act and their availability in various local bodies, and ordered them to ensure that all civic bodies have the required equipment.

The court has ordered the government to file a detailed report on why the survey to rehabilitate those engaged in manual scavenging was not completed. The District Magistrates have also been asked to appear in the court on October 4, and will be exempted if they have a memo pertaining to the compliance with statutory rules under the Act, stated the reports. The next hearing in the case is scheduled for October 3.

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