The Supreme Court Monday was told that the states keep denying the existence of manual scavenging but also avail assistance of crores of rupees from the central government for the rehabilitation of those engaged in this work.
“Ninety six percent of those engaged in manual scavenging are covered under Article 17 of the constitution (abolition of untouchability) and they have to be liberated,” the apex court bench of Chief Justice P. Sathasivam and Justice R.P. Desai was told by senior counsel Gopal Subramanium, appearing for NGO Safai Karamchari Andolan.
“Yes, in crores (of rupees),” he said as Chief Justice Sathasivam asked whether money was allocated for the rehabilitation of the manual scavengers.
“Money that is allocated by the Planning Commission is withdrawn but none of these people are rehabilitated,” Subramanium told the court, adding that there was an “institutional bias against them”.
As the court was apprised of a report filed by the Uttarakhand government on the status of manual scavengers, the court said: “We have to get similar reports from all over the country.”
Additional Solicitor General Paras Kuhad told the court that parliament in its just concluded monsoon session passed the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Bill that aims to eliminate manual scavenging and rehabilitate those engaged in the work.
The court inquired if by month end the bill would become an act and notified but Kuhad sought four weeks time to seek information from the government and tell the court.
The court would next hear the case Oct 29.