Social Justice and Welfare

Highlights of the Bill

  • The Bill prohibits the employment of manual scavengers, the manual cleaning of sewers and septic tanks without protective equipment, and the construction of insanitary latrines. 
  • It seeks to rehabilitate manual scavengers and provide for their alternative employment.
  • Each local authority, cantonment board and railway authority is responsible for surveying insanitary latrines within its jurisdiction.  They shall also construct a number of sanitary community latrines.
  • Each occupier of insanitary latrines shall be responsible for converting or demolishing the latrine at his own cost.  If he fails to do so, the local authority shall convert the latrine and recover the cost from him.
  • The District Magistrate and the local authority shall be the implementing authorities. 
  • Offences under the Bill shall be cognizable and non-bailable, and may be tried summarily.  

Key Issues and Analysis

  • The existing law prohibiting manual scavenging was enacted under the State List.  There could be an argument for Parliament’s jurisdiction to enact this Bill as this regulates conditions of work, and is thus a Concurrent List item.
  • Neither the state nor the centre is mandated under the Bill to provide financial assistance for the conversion of insanitary latrines.  This may adversely impact implementation of the Bill.
  • Offences under the Bill may be tried summarily though the penalty could be five years imprisonment.  However, under the CrPC, only offences with a maximum imprisonment of two years can be tried summarily.
  • A state government can grant the Executive Magistrate the judicial power to try offences under the Bill.  This may create a conflict of interest if the Executive Magistrate is also the implementing authority.
  • The Bill has a wider scope and higher penalties than the 1993 Act.

Read the complete analysis here