Topic#1: Plight of Manual Scavangers in India

Q. Write a note on the legal initiatives taken to prohibit manual scavenging in recent times. 200 words.

In 2013, Parliament enacted a law to prohibit manual scavenging and for the rehabilitation of the existing people in this inhumane work.

Salient Features of the Act:

  1. D.M. to ensure no person employed in the manual scavenging within his jurisdiction.
  2. Provide them photo-identity cards, loan subsidy and skill development training to start a new vocation; scholarship for children and housing for the families.
  3. Make a list of dry latrine and demolish them in time bound manner.
  4. Local governance bodies need to construct latrines within 3 years
  5. In case of Violation: 1 year imprisonment + Rs.50,000 fine.
  6. Central, state monitoring authority and vigilance commission (under D.M.) to monitor implementation of the act.

In 2014, Supreme Court issued following Mandamus to Union and States that:

  1. Even in emergency, No one should be forced to clean sewers without safety gear.
  2. Compensation: Rs. 10 lakh to families of persons died in sewerage work- from 1993 onwards.
  3. Railways should end manual scavenging on the tracks, within timebound framework.
  4. Provide dignified livelihood to women engaged in this trade.
  5. Donot create red-tapes, provide these victims their legitimate dues.

~191 words.

Side notes:

  • The practice of manual scavenging is a violation of the rights guaranteed under Art.14, 17, 21 and 47
  • But still, today ~12 lakh people in this work, 95% of them Dalits.
  • Even Railways, PSUs, Army and military engineering works organizations (informally) employ Manual scavengers
1989 National ST/ST finance and development corporation.
  • National scheme for rehabilitation of Manual scavengers.
  • 2003: CAG notes that despite spending 600 cr. in this, no visible progress made.
1993 National Commission for Safai Karmachari
1993 Dry latrine prohibition Act. (Because Dry latrines have to be manually cleaned. So if there are no dry laterines, then there is no need for manual scavengers)
1997 Above act finally implemented. (But only in a few states).
  • MANDAMUS writ petition was filed by Safai Karamchari Andolan (Civil society org.)
  • they demanded dry latrine + manual scavenging = violation of 14, 17, 21 and 23
  • Government enacted the law. (that we discussed in answer)
  • March: SC delivered verdict on that Mandamus writ (of 2003). Chief Justice P. Sathasivam himself headed the bench.

Topic #2: Plight of North Eastern People in India

  • 2014, January: Arunanchal Student Nido Tania- asked for address in Delhi, was mocked for his look and hairstyle. Fight breaks out, he is killed.
  • Home minister formed a Commission under retired IAS M P Bezbaruah
  • To look into concerns of people hailing from north-eastern states living and working in other parts of the country.
  • 2014, Aug: Bezbaruah recommends following:
Report Bezbaruah Commission North East people

Salient Recommendations for safety of NE people working in Rest of India

Major reforms by Bezbaruah commission
Social media Government should setup a dedicated facebook, whatsapp, helpline and email support for reaching out to North Eastern people living in rest of India.
  • Set up a dedicate panel of lawyers to fight cases for North Eastern vitcims.
  • 50% of these lawyers should be women.
  • Legal awareness campaigns in the areas of Delhi with significant concentration of North Easterners.
  • Rights awareness lectures for the NE-freshers in JNU, DU and other universities
Police Nodal police stations for North Easterners. So the police officer can immediately register FIR instead of asking the victim to go to other stations.
  • Relief fund for helping victims of hate crime, giving money to their relatives to dispose body, travelling from faraway parts of North East etc.
  • Sports ministry should hold regular national/international sports events in the Northeast
  • Stadiums in each state of NE.

All these reforms are to be implemented in a phased manner

Timeframe for Reforms
Immediate 6 months to 1 year
Short term 1 to 1.5 years
Long term 1.5 to 3 years

September 2014: Home minister ordered chief secretaries of all states to implement this report.
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