The Gujarat High Court on Wednesday expressed dissatisfaction with the state government’s response on a public interest litigation (PIL) that seeks the implementation of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 in its entirety.
The division bench, headed by Justice SR Brahmbhatt, refused to place the state’s reply on record and asked for a detailed affidavit by July 1. Assistant government pleader Utkarsh Sharma, who was representing the state government, was asked to file a reply that highlights the prevalence of manual scavenging in the state.
Advocate Hirak Ganguly, representing the petitioner Manav Garima Trust – an Ahmedabad-based NGO that works for the rights for manual scavengers and sanitation workers – said, “The court was the opinion that the details furnished by the state today was insufficient and was also of the opinion that the state government should commence campaigning to spread awareness regarding the dehumanising nature of this work.”
The court also suggested that the government set up a toll-free number in this regard and create awareness against manual scavenging using broadcast or other media, the advocate said.
While the PIL was initially filed to ensure compensation for affected families, the court is now looking into the implementation of the Act.
It took the state nearly six months to furnish a report. The court had ordered the state to submit a detailed report about the existence of manual scavenging and the employment of manual scavengers by various municipalities and municipal corporations in the state in violation of the Act that prohibits the practice.
“Such details shall also include any activity of manual scavenging undertaken by outsourcing and/or contract basis by such authorities,” the order had stated.