Manual Scavengers'' Fight for Human Right and Dignity in India, By Dr. Md. Zafar Mahfooz Nomani,Reader , Faculty of Law,Aligarh Muslim University, Aligarh The system of human waste disposal manual scavenging see a deep rooted prejudice against Dalits, on whom the hierarchical caste Hindu society has thrust this obnoxious occupation only because they are born into this segregated social group. The report of Comptroller and Auditor –General (CAG) submitted in 2003, evaluating the National Scheme of Liberation and Rehabilitation of scavengers and their dependents which was being implemented by the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment since March 2003. The National Commission for Safai Karamchari, a statutory body has in its reports pointed to the continued employment of manual scavengers and the operation of dry latrines by the various Governmental Departments of t of India. The Indian Constitution, in fundamental Rights Part-III and Directive Principles of State Policy Part-IV has inscribed the right to life with equality, dignity of individual and social justice to every person who is a member of the grand collective. Article 17 emphasizes the ideology of abolition of untouchability It Says that Untouchability" is abolished and its practice in any form is forbidden. The enforcement of any disability arising out of "Untouchability" shall be an offence punishable in accordance with law. To ensure that the fundamental rights are properly protected and for it enforcement, the Constitution has conferred on the Supreme Court and High Courts of India the power to grant most effective remedies whenever such rights are violated, under the provisions of Articles 32 and 226 the court have liberally construed and the fuller exploration of the scope of fundamental rights as specially the right to life under Article21. Directive Principles of State policy as Granville Austin finds an even clear state of social revolution. They at making the Indian masses free from the passivity endangered by centuries of coercion by society and by nature, free from the abject physical conditions that had prevented them from fulfilling their best selves". Dr. Ambedkar''s view regarded Directive Principles are not socialistic in their direction, and in their content, I fail to understand what more socialism can be". The Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955 is one of the major legislation to establish a democratic and egalitarian society and absence of all kinds of disabilities particularly the rights of Dalit''s community. The very purpose of the Act is to curb the various kind of disability while (religious & Social) preaching and practice of untouchability the law provide punishment. The Act provides enough measures which may necessary for ensuring that the rights from the abolition of untouchability or made available to, and are availed of by the persons subject to any disability arising out of "Untouchability." The State government is empowered to take all necessary action in pursuance of aims and object of the Act.It also incorporates provisions that every offence under this Act shall be treated as a cognizable offence and tried summarily by a Judicial Magistrate of the first class or Metropolitan Magistrate as the case may be.
To stamp out the evil under Article 17 of the Constitution, the Parliament stepped in and made The Schedule Castes and The Schedule Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, with the object to prevent the commission of offences of atrocities against the members of stringent provisions to eradicate those offences speedy trial, relief and rehabilitation of the victims of such offences with An Act to prevent the commission of offences of Atrocities against the members of Schedule castes and Schedule Tribes to provide for special courts for the trial of such offences and for the relief and rehabilitation of the victims of such offences and related matters.The Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry La(Prohibition) Act, 1993 resolute for the prohibition of employment of manual scavengers as well as construction or continuance of dry latrines and maintenance of water-seal latrines and matter connected therewith. The government has also passed the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 and engaged constantly to the issue of identification and rehabilitation of manual scavengers since its inception. The Commission finds manual scavenging deeply offensive to health and human dignity. The Commission has urged all the state Governments and Union Territories to work with greater determination to implement the Act, so as to ensure that the dehumanizing practice could be effectively stopped. So far, 26 States and Union Territories have either accepted the Central Law or enacted their own laws. The Commission emphasized that the States and Central Government needed to pool their resources together to ensure that practice of manual scavenging is eradicated once for all. It is indeed India''s shame that manual scavenging is a disgusting reality despite the central law forthright banned this evil practice.98 While enforcing this law some refused to adopt the law where as those who even complied it, the Dalit manual scavengers live a miserable life because of marginalization.99 Put in nutshell, after the 13 years'' of enactment of Act, there has not been a single prosecution. The law seems more of skeleton scheme than really having the sanctioning enforcement. The time has come that the stinking existence of manual scavengers under the tinkered laws and contaminated enforcement necessitates a judicious scanning to accord human right to dignity and well being to Dalit scavengers.