Team Blitz India
NEW DELHI: Observing that manual scavengers have lived in bondage, systematically trapped in inhuman conditions for a long time, the Supreme Court asked the Centre and state governments to completely eradicate manual scavenging across the country.
Passing a slew of directions for the benefit of people involved in manual scavenging, the apex court on October 20 asked the Central and state governments to pay Rs 30 lakh as compensation to the next of kin of those who die while cleaning sewers.
“Ours is a battle not for wealth of power. It is a battle for freedom. It is a battle for reclamation of human personality,” Justice S Ravindra Bhat quoted BR Ambedkar as he along with Justice Aravind Kumar pronounced the verdict on a PIL against manual scavenging.
Sewer deaths, injuries
Enhancing the compensation in cases of sewer deaths and injuries, the top court said those who suffer permanent disabilities while cleaning sewers will be paid Rs 20 lakh as minimum compensation, and for other injuries a compensation up to Rs 10 lakh can be paid to the victims.
The Bench posted the PIL for further monitoring on February 1, 2024. The court was assisted in framing directions by amicus curiae K Parmeshwar and additional solicitor- general (ASG) Aishwarya Bhati for the Centre.
The Bench issued 14 directions to the Union and state governments for effective implementation of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013.
Justice Bhat, while reading out the verdict, said that the authorities needed to take measures for the rehabilitation of the victims and their families. The kith and kin of the victims be provided scholarships and imparted skill development training, said the court. Some of these directions had been part of an earlier decision by the Supreme Court in 2014 in Safai Karamchari Andolan vs Union of India.