October 1, 2022

Karnataka HC directs state govt to issue records on manual scavenging

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The Karnataka High Court has issued an intricate interim order pertaining to enforcement of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013.

The high court has passed an order directing the state government to compile together and register the details, which comprises of the present status of the cases registered and also an exhaustive data and analysis about the survey regarding insanitary latrines in the state of Karnataka.

Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka led division bench has issued the order pertaining to the PILs filed jointly by All India Council of Trade Unions and High Court Legal Services Committee urging for enforcement of the provisions of the Act and the regulations. It was presented to the court the data stating the 53.15 lakh insanitary latrines in the state as per the Union Government. The bench stated, “This is one indication showing the failure on the part of the concerned local authorities and the state government to implement the provisions of the law in its letter and spirit.”

The court declared about effective implementation of the Act with the condition of invoking penal provisions. The bench further said, “There are hardly any prosecutions for the offence punishable under the Manual Scavengers Act. At least no such data is on record. In fact, under Section 22, it is provided that notwithstanding anything contained in the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973, every offence under the said Act is cognizable and non-bailable.”

The High Court has instructed the state government to record the details of the FIRs, status of the pending cases, data with reference to the survey of insanitary latrines, further information about the demolition of the latrines, and information pertaining to the state and district level survey committees along with the report having the details about compliance with the Rules and guidelines issued by the Supreme Court.

The court also passed an order about updating the details regarding compliance pertaining to the decisions passed under the chairmanship of the the additional chief secretary for the meeting conducted on February 23, 2018. The court added, “Nothing is placed on record to show that any of the decisions taken in the said meeting were implemented. The state government must place on record the documents showing implementation of the said decisions.”

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