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SC to examine through manual scavenging legislation

New Delhi, Sep 9, 2013 (PTI):

Parliament's approval to the Bill banning manual scavenging will come in for scrutiny of the Supreme Court which today said it will examine its provisions threadbare to see whether it meets necessary requirements to wipe out the social stigma attached to a section of society.

"We want to see the new legislation whether it takes care of everything or not. We will ask all states to implement it," a bench comprising Chief Justice P Sathasivam and Justice Ranjana Prakash Desai said.

It was told that the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Bill, 2013 has got the nod of both houses of Parliament and awaits the President's assent for notification.

The bench posted the matter for final hearing on October 29 while asking the Chief Secretaries of all states to file affidavits giving details of the rehabilitation and steps taken to liberate those involved in manual scavenging.

The Haridwar district magistrate, who had been pulled up on December 11 last year for filing an "incorrect" affidavit that there is no manual scavenging in the temple town, was asked by the Bench to file additional affidavit about the exact position there.

It had directed the officer to personally visit those places, where manual scavenging is prevalent, and take immediate steps for scavengers' rehabilitation.

The court had said all dry latrines in the area must be replaced with flush latrines.
The PIL filed in 2003 by an NGO, Safai Karamchari Andolan, had sought banning of manual scavenging and has been time-to-time coming out with the events and data to falsify the claim of the authorities. During the pendency of the PIL, the Centre had assured the apex court that it was coming out with a fresh legislation which ultimately got the approval of Parliament in the just- concluded monsoon session.

The bench was told that there was a law in this regard since 1993 but none of the states implemented it in its letter and spirit.

The Bill seeks to prohibit employment of individuals as manual scavengers by prescribing stringent punishment, including imprisonment up to five years, to those employing such labour and also their rehabilitation.


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