Manual scavenging: Minister apologises, officials fail to act
New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Tuesday said despite a Union minister apologising for existence of manual scavenging in the country, the officials are not taking effective actions to put this practise to an end.
A bench of justices Swantater Kumar and Madan B Lokur pulled up the Haridwar district magistrate for not taking action for abolishing the practise and to rehabilitate manual scavengers in the district.
"Even your central minister has apologised for existence of manual scavenging if the press reports are right," the bench said directing the officer to personally visit those places where manual scavenging is going on and take immediate steps for scavengers' rehabilitation.
The bench was referring to media reports about Union Minister for Rural Development Jairam Ramesh apologising yesterday to the nation on the issue of manual scavenging.
The bench rapped the district magistrate for filing a false affidavit saying there is no manual scavenger in the district. At one stage, the court said "he must face consequences for telling lie to court," but let him off with the warning.
It said all dry latrines in the area must be replaced with flush latrines.
"Please take care. You are a young officer. Do not mess up your life," the bench told the officer who was personally present in the court.
"It is a matter of great concern that such senior official placed incorrect affidavit," the bench said adding "normally we would have taken action under contempt of court but we are giving him another chance."
The bench had on December 4 summoned the DM for filing the false affidavit.
In the affidavit, the magistrate had said there was no manual scavenger in his district which was refuted by Safai Karamchari Andoolan. The NGO alleged there are around 174 manual scavengers in the district.
Taking exception to the contradictory affidavit, a bench had asked the magistrate and the head of the NGO to appear before it.