Sun. Jun 16th, 2024

The supreme court had taken judicial notice of the petition filed in 2020 by Balram Singh, which highlighted that people were still dying in sewers though the practice was banned with the introduction of the Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, 1993 and the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013. The top court itself had reinforced the prohibition and directed the rehabilitation of people, traditionally and otherwise, engaged in the practice in its judgment.

The Supreme Court on 20/10/2023 said claims of fraternity, equality, and dignity among citizens remain a mere illusion if a sizeable section of society is forced to enter sewers for a living and die trapped in them even a decade after the outlawing of the inhuman practice of manual scavenging.

A Bench headed by Justice S.R. Bhat held the Union and the States duty-bound to the pledge to completely eradicate manual scavenging through the stringent implementation of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013.

“Each of us owe to this large segment of the population, who have remained unseen, unheard and muted, in bondage systematically trapped in inhuman conditions,” Justice Bhat wrote.

The court enhanced the compensation payable for sewer deaths to ₹30 lakh from the earlier ₹10 lakh.

“Upon all of us citizens lie the duty of realising true fraternity. It is not without reason that our Constitution has placed great emphasis on the value of dignity and fraternity. But for these two, all other liberties are chimera,” Justice Bhat read out excerpts from the judgment.

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