HC asks State, Centre to amend Act to prohibit scavenging

Chennai, Feb 1 (PTI) The Madras High Court today askedthe state and central governments to amend the law to prohibitmanual scavenging, including allowing labourers to enter sewersystems and manually cleaning septic tanks.

The First Bench passed the order on a contempt petitionby social worker A Narayanan, relating to alleged disobedienceof orders passed by the court from time to time in thisregard.

On October 2008, the court had clamped a ban on thepractice and said it was the responsibility of authoritiesconcerned to get blocks cleared using mechanical devices.

In 2009, Narayanan had moved a contempt petition, prayingfor action as the order was not obeyed. The case is pendingbefore the court.

On the last hearing on January 4, the Government pleaderinformed the court that the state has decided to bring forwarda legislation, with suggestions to amend the Employment ofManual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines(Prohibition) 1993.

When the matter came up for hearing today, M Sneha,government advocate produced a copy of a January 25 letter,where the state Government requested the Centre to makesuitable amendments to the Act for effective implementation ofcourt directions.

The Bench then directed the government to take up thematter with the Centre so that necessary amendments could bebrought in the Act.

It also directed the government advocate to serve a copyof the letter to Additional Solicitor General of India MRavindran and asked him to pursue the matter with centralGovernment and get the legislation amended to that effect.

The Bench posted the matter for further hearing aftereight weeks.

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