Taking a serious view of death of manual scavengers, the Delhi High Court Friday asked the AAP government and various other authorities to state on affidavit whether they were, directly or indirectly, hiring people to manually clean septic tanks and sewers.
The court said the affidavit should also highlight compliance with the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act and rehabilitation of manual scavengers.
A bench of Justices G S Sistani and Jyoti Singh said the affidavits should be filed within two weeks and listed the matter for further hearing on August 28.
The court observed that the death of people shows that authorities are not complying with the Act and if the deaths have taken place, someone has to go to jail.
The court was hearing a PIL filed in 2007 for the rehabilitation of manual scavengers. It had earlier termed as “disgraceful” the existence of manual scavenging in the city despite a law prohibiting such a practice.
The court was also hearing the plea filed by advocate and social activist Amit Sahni who has sought directions to the Delhi government to ensure strict compliance of the 2013 law on manual scavengers.
The plea said implementation of the law would “prevent loss of lives due to manual cleaning of sewers and septic tanks”.
On a recent report that 88 manual scavenging deaths have happened in three years, senior advocate N Hariharan, representing Sahni, said the newspaper report may not be accurate but it gives a flavour that people are dying in sewers.
Besides the Delhi government, the high court asked municipal bodies, Delhi Jal Board, Delhi Cantonment Board and Public Works Department to file their affidavits.
The court remarked that the government spends so much money on election advertisements and it should spend some amount on sensitising people about manual scavenging as so many people die due to this practice every year.