The Employment of Manual Scavengers And Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, 1993

The Employment of Manual Scavengers And Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, 1993 (Act No.46 of 1993) dated 5th June, 1993 was brought with the object to deal with prohibition of employment of manual scavengers and also for construction of dry latrines. Further, this Act makes provisions for regularizing construction and maintenance of ‘Water-sealed Latrines. The existence of dry latrine comes as challenge and hurdle in completing the sanitation chain in the Country. Manual Scavenging being most extreme manifestation of caste discrimination, is also responsible to environmental degradation. The initiative to eradicate such manual scavenging was firstly taken by G.S. Lakshman Iyer, the then Chairman of Gobichettipalayam Municipality, by 1950s. The Constitution of India makes provision for sanitation being the sixth entry in State list upon which State legislature to enact law. Similarly, the Article 252 of the Indian Constitution empowers Parliament to enact laws on this topic. As such this Act provides with above mentioned aim and object for its extension to over such State provided under Section 1(2) of the Act and further it says that any other States can also adopt this Act by passing their resolutions as to such adoption and as such this Act will extend to those States also.

The Act under Section 2 defines various terminologies used under various provisions of the Act like dry latrine, environment, environmental pollutant, etc. for meaningful interpretation of those provisions. So far as prohibition of Employment of Manual Scavengers and others are concern this Act provides for Chapter II including Section 3 of the Act which specifies how such employment prohibited under the Act.

Depending upon circumstances of each case, the Government under Section 4 of the Act can also exempt the area or building from the application of provisions of this Act. Now, Chapter III of the Act under Section 5 of the Act makes provision as to appointment of certain Executive authorities. Such appointment can be made by State Government from amongst the District Magistrate or a Sub-Divisional Magistrate for ensuring compliance of the provisions of this Act.

Section 6 of the Act empowers the State Government for making of Scheme as to conversion, construction and/or maintenance of dry latrines into water-sealed latrines. Further, schemes under this section can also provide for rehabilitation of persons engaged as manual scavengers. Section 7 of the Act empowers the State Government to direct any person, officer or local or other authority in connection with purpose of this Act.

Section 8 of the Act says all Executive authorities, inspectors, officers and other employees, etc. should be called public servants similar to that which is provided under Section 21 of the Indian Penal Code. Similarly, Section 9 of the Act requires appointment of inspectors and provides for their powers. Such appointment is to be made by the State Government. Likewise, Section 10 of the Act describe the power of executive authority as to prevention of environmental pollution.

The financial assistance is required to be extended under Section 11 of the Act by HUDCO for implementation of schemes and for constructing water-seal latrines. Section 12 of the Act provides for imposing of fee for construction of community latrines, shared latrines, etc. Moreover, Section 13 of the Act explains about committees to be called Project Committees, Monitoring Committees, etc. Such Committees is to be constituted by the Central Government. Sub Section (2) of the Section 13 of the Act deals with members, their powers and functions and also as to their terms and conditions of appointment.

Chapter IV of the Act deals with penal provisions for violation of provisions of this Act. Not only this but if any contravention of rules, orders, directions and schemes is there, then penalty can be imposed in all cases extending to imprisonment or fine or with both kind of penalties. Section 15 of the Act describes offences by companies and person liable therein. Previous sanction from Executive Authorities required for taking cognizance of matters under this Act. Section 18 provides for period of limitation for taking cognizance under this Act. Miscellaneous provisions are given under Chapter V of this Act. Section 19 of the Act contains provisions as to furnishing of information, reports and returns as required by Central Government from any officer or even from State Government.

Action taken in good faith is protected under Section 20 of the Act, where no suit or prosecution or even any legal proceeding could be initiated against any Government, officer, authorities or even any employee. Section 21 is having overriding effect of this Act over the provisions of any other law inconsistent with provisions of this Act. Finally, Central Government under Section 22 and State Governments under Section 23 of the Act, empowered to make Rules over the matters provided under the list described under same sections.

However, the Act was enlisted in the First Schedule of The Repealing and Amendment Bill, 2014, which was introduced before House of People on August, 2014 for its repeal entirely. The recent enactment i.e. The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 passed on September, 2013. The aforesaid, bill i.e. The Repealing and Amendment Bill, 2014 also provides for amendment of certain important provisions of the Act of 2013. The Central Government has revised the self employment scheme for Rehabilitation of Manual Scavengers under the Act of 2013. Under such scheme the Central Government has made a budget provision of Rupees 448 crores for the years 2014-2015, as per Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment, Shri. Sudarshan Bhagat.

by Faim Khalilkhan Pathan.