Karnataka HC notice to govt on manual disposal of night soil

The High Court on Monday issued a notice to the State government on a public interest litigation seeking a ban on the practice of manual carrying and disposing of human excreta.

Hearing a petition by senior counsel R N Narasimhamurthy, the Division Bench comprising Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice A S Pacchapure ordered notice to the State government and directed it to file objections.

The petitioner, also a former advocate general, expressed shock at the protest by the Bhangi community at Savanur in Haveri district on July 21 last year against the attempt of the town municipal council to evict them from their homes and some of the community members had even poured human excreta on their bodies.

Terming the practice of workers carrying human excreta a national shame, the petitioner said the State could not curb the system even after six decades of Independence.

Counsel for the petitioner J Prashanth said the system spoke of the apathy of the legislators and bureaucrats and pointed out that no action had been taken to prevent manual carrying of night soil, and the humiliation and social stigma accompanying it.

Not much done

Stating that such a practice violated Articles 38, 42 and 46 of the Indian Constitution, the petitioner said that despite the State and Union Government passing legislation like Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act,1993, to prevent employment of manual scavengers and manual carrying of human excreta, not much had been done to implement the Act.

Narasimhamurthy described as a violation of human rights the government’s failure to initiate action against the practice and rehabilitating night soil carriers.

He called for a survey within the corporation, municipality and panchayat raj limits where the practice is still prevalent and sought directions for adequate employment opportunities and suitable houses in healthy surroundings for night soil workers.

Yediyur temple

The HC has directed the Archaeological Survey of India to submit a fresh report on renovation of Siddalingeshwara  temple at Yediyur in Kunigal taluk.

Hearing a public interest litigation filed by Dr Hatti Chandrashekar and others, the Division Bench comprising Chief Justice J S Khehar and Justice A S Pacchapure, directed the ASI to file a fresh report within two months.

The court, in the previous hearing, had directed the ASI to file a report on the renovation of the temple, including its historical significance and method of renovation. The ASI in its report stated that the sanctum sanctorum was constructed in 1470 AD, the stone mantap in the 16th century and the rest in the 19th century.

It also said renovation would be taken up in a phased manner. But Advocate General Ashok Harnahalli objected to the report stating that the ASI had not informed the State government about the study.

Disqualified MLAs’ plea: Hearing adjourned

The High Court on Monday adjourned the hearing of the petition of the five disqualified independent MLAs to Tuesday.

Senior counsel Satyapal Jain, appearing for the BJP, submitted that the five Independent MLAs had been attending BJP legislature party meetings and received the whip issued by the party. This clearly showed that they had joined the party by their conduct.

The five independent MLAs had colluded with 11 BJP rebel MLAs to topple the Yeddyurappa government and to form an alternative government with the support of the Opposition members, Jain argued.

P P Rao, senior counsel for the five MLAs, submitted that while disqualifying the MLAs, the Speaker did not follow the disqualification rules and also did not give them sufficient time to file a reply to the show-cause notice. Another senior counsel, Raghavan, argued that within three days of the Chief Minister filing a petition with the Speaker seeking disqualification of the MLAs, the Speaker had passed the order. "It's a covert attempt to save the Yeddyurappa government," he argued.

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