New Delhi, Oct 5 (UNI) The Supreme Court today directed the states and Union Territories to issue notification within two months for strict implementation of the employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines(Prohibition) Act, 1993 to abolish the practice of manual scavenging in the country.
A bench comprising Justices H K Sema and Lokeshwar Singh Panta issued the direction after the petitioners Safai Karamchari Andolan and others alleged that Indian railways and some states were not implementing the provisions of the Act and the practice of employing manual scavengers is still continuing unchecked.
The counsel for the petitioners submitted before the Court that many states including Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan have not adopted the Act till date and states like Kerala, Nagaland, and Puducherri have asserted that there was no need to adopt the Act despite the fact that statistics in these states confirm the existence of manual scavenging.
Counsel for the Railways, however, denied the allegation that manual scavenging was continuing in Railways and 'Safai Karamcharis' are being forced to clean platforms, railway tracks and railway toilets and latrines manually.
The petition seeks direction from the apex court to the Centre, States and Union Territories to take effective and time bound steps for abolition of the social evil and also replacing the same through mechanised scavenging.
The petitioners have also contended that manual scavenging is violating the constitution of India.
The Court also directed the Centre, States, and Union Territories to give powers to district magistrates and sub-divisional magistrates, who are the implementing authority to implement the Act strictly. Violation of the Act involves one-year imprisonment.