The Bombay High Court called for information on steps taken by the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai, Thane Municipal Corporation, Kalyan-Dombivali Municipal Corporation and MiraBhayander Municipal Corporation regarding identification and rehabilitation under schemes against manual scavenging.

In order to address the wider issue of the ‘dehumanising practice,’ the Court stated that it was necessary to ensure that the statutory authorities constituted under the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and Their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 (the Act of 2013) were established with requisite manpower and had the necessary administrative setup for functioning.

A Division Bench of Justice Nitin Jamdar and Justice M.M. Sathaye observed, “The Act of 2013 was enacted to prohibit the employment of manual scavengers and provide rehabilitation for them and their families. Article 46 of the Constitution of India mandates that the State must protect the weaker sections of society from social injustice and all forms of exploitation. The legislation recognizes that manual scavenging, a dehumanizing practice arising from the continuing existence of insanitary latrines and social factors, is still prevalent in various parts of the country.

Sr. Advocate Gayatri Singh represented the petitioners, while GP P.P. Kakade appeared for the respondents.

The Shramik Janata Sangh had filed a petition espousing the cause of manual scavenging workers. The Court pointed out the interim order of compensation passed by the High Court in 2023 to be paid to the family members of deceased sewage workers under a policy of the Municipal Corporation.

The Court explained that “the first step that needs to be taken to address the wider issue, is to ensure that the statutory authorities constituted under the Act of 2013 are established and are functional and have the requisite manpower and necessary administrative setup.

As per the Bench, this issue needed to be looked at in a wider spectrum by ensuring that the Act of 2013 was employed in its fullest rigour in the State of Maharashtra since the Court cannot monitor each case individually.

The Act of 2013 provides for framing of the Rules and, if no Rules are framed by the State of Maharashtra, then the Central Government Rules would apply. Since the State of Maharashtra has not framed Rules, the Rules framed by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment (Department of Social Justice and Empowerment) Central Government, namely, Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Rules, 2013 (in short “Rules of 2013”) are applicable,” the Court remarked.

Accordingly, the High Court listed the matter on May 7, 2024.

Cause Title: Shramik Janata Sangh & Ors. v. State of Maharashtra & Ors.


Petitioners: Sr. Advocate Gayatri Singh; Advocates Sanjot Shirsath and Sudha Bhardwaj

Respondents: GP P.P. Kakade; AGP R.A. Salunkhe; Law Officer S.P. Tiwrekar

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