The Karnataka HC division bench of Chief Justice Abhay oka and Justice S Vishwajith Shetty issued several directions to the state Government on Wednesday to ensure proper implementation of the provisions of Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013. This was ruled by the bench while hearing a petition filed by All India Council of Trade Unions ()AICTUand High Court Legal Services Committee.
The court observed that- “There can be no dispute that our Constitutional philosophy does not permit any form of manual scavenging. Right of a citizen to live with dignity is an integral part of the fundamental rights guaranteed to the citizens under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. The preamble of the Constitution shows that the Constitution seeks to protect the dignity of an individual. There can be no dispute that manual scavenging is most inhuman and it infringes the fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 21.”
The bench also held that if any citizen is forced for manual scavenging, it will be dealt as gross violation of Article 21 (Right to life and personal liberty) of the Constitution of India and also Article 47 under Part IV of the Constitution of India under which state is under obligation to improve the standard of living of its people.
During the hearing the court also emphasized on difference between the old Act(Employment of Manual Scavengers and Constitution of dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, 1993) said there is wide difference between the definition of the term “manual scavenger in both the Acts.”
Under sub-section (1) of Section 5 of the Manual Scavengers Act, there is a complete prohibition on manual scavenging. Under Section 3 of the old Act, the State Government was required to issue a notification for prohibiting engagement or employment of any person for manual scavenging. And therefore the old Act was not automatic but the later one is more comprehensive.
Lastly the bench issued various directions and has directed the State Government to file affidavits on or before January 30th and listed the case again for February 2nd, 2020.