Karnataka High Court: All state government should ensure that no person is allowed to clean a sewer manually

A division bench of Chief Justice Abhay Oka and Justice Sachin Shankar Magadum asked states to implement Rule 3, of The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Rules, 2013.

“Right of a citizen to live with dignity is an integral part of the fundamental rights guaranteed to the citizens under Article 21 of the Constitution of India,” it had observed.

The preamble of the Constitution shows that the Constitution seeks to protect the dignity of an individual. There can be no dispute that manual scavenging is most inhuman and it infringes the fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 21.

The bench also stated that “If any citizen is forced to do manual scavenging, it will be a gross violation of his fundamental right conferred under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. Under Article 47 of the Constitution of India which is a part of Directive Principles of the State Policy, the State is under an obligation to endeavor to improve the standard of living of its people.”

“The state government shall consider issuing a general direction to all Urban and Rural local authorities as well as all agencies and instrumentalities of the state for implementation of Rule 3 of the said Rules of 2013. The State government shall also consider issuing a direction that whenever authorities appoint contractors, condition of complying with Rule 3, should be incorporated in the contract for work order.”

The rule states that no person shall be allowed to clean a sewer manually, with protective gear and safety devices, with a few exceptions of:

a. For removal of manholes or concrete or FRP.

b. For interlinking sewer size more than 300 mm diameter.

c. For the removal of submersible pump set

d. For reconstruction of new manhole or rectification of previous one.

For the purpose of clauses (c) and (d) if a person is allowed to enter a manhole, the manhole shall be completely empty.

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