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The National Commission for Safai Karamcharis Act, 1993

The National Commission for Safai Karamcharis Act, 1993 enacted to constitute a National Commission for Safai Karamcharis. As prior to the Act, there was no Commission constituted to protect the Safai Karamcharis. The need for enactment of Commission increased to uplift the social economical standards of Safai Karamcharis against the grievances, National Commission for Safai Karamcharis constituted under the provision of the National Commission for Safai Karamcharis Act, 1993 to support and protect the welfare and rights of Safai Karamcharis.

National Commission for Safai Karamcharis Act, 1993 consists of 15 Sections in brief and it is applicable to whole of India except the State of Jammu & Kashmir. The National Commission for Safai Karamcharis was constituted under the Act on 12th August, 1994 to protect the persons comes within purview of Safai Karamcharis. The Commission has its existence for a period of 3 years under the provision of Act, 1993 to fulfill the objectives laid under the Act which in turn protect the rights of Safai Karamcharis. The term of the Commission would be extended from time to time based on the resolution by the Government. The main objective of the constitution of Commission is to look forward the grievances and hold the issues relating to implementation of welfare schemes of Safai Karamcharis and consult all the matters on all policies which affect the rights of Safai Karamcharis.

The Act under Section 2(e) defines the term Safai Karamcharis, it means the persons who employed in the work of manually carrying human excreta or any sanitation work. Act laid provisions for the constitution of National Commission for Safai Karamcharis, Central Government by notification constituted a Commission to exercise the powers, perform the functions assigned to it under the Act. Commission consists of Chairperson, a Vice-chairperson, and five members to perform the function provided under the Act, Act has a special proviso enacted for the workers given equal opportunity to women treating them as weaker section and provides that at least one member of the Commission should be women. Every member of the Commission holds office of the Commission for a term not exceeding three years as specified by the Central Government and they deemed to be as public servants held within meaning of Section 21 of Indian Penal Code, 1860. Members of the Commission can resign the office at anytime by writing it to the Central Government and Central Government has the authority to remove a person/member from the office of the Commission as laid in provisions specified under Section 4(3). As the responsibility lies on the shoulders of the Central Government to protect the welfare of the Safai Karamcharis, Central Government provides the Commission with efficient members to perform the functions to fulfill the objectives as laid in the Act.

The Commission with its members which constituted under Act has wide functions and powers to perform as specified in Section 8 of the Act. The Commission could investigate and make report to the Central and State Governments matter relating to the Safai Karamcharis and Commission has the authority to recommend the Central Government regarding the matter of programmes and policies which eliminates the status of Safai Karamcharis towards their opportunities. Commission and members regulated by its own procedure to make decisions can meet at specified time and place held by the chairperson, all the orders and decision of Commission duly authorized by the chairperson and other members of the commission has duty bound to oblige the decisions held by the chairperson. Central Government while making any major policies and programmes which affects Safai Karamcharis should consult the Commission which constituted under Act and Commission bound by a duty to submit the annual report to the Central Government under Section 11 of the Act.

As Commission and Act enacted in good faith, no suit lies against the Central Government, Chairperson, a Vice-Chairperson, members and other officers, employees of the Commission as Commission enacted to protect the persons in good faith. Apart from functions, Central Government by notification in the official gazette has wide powers to make rules as provided in Section 15 of the Act, which includes the power to make rules regarding the salaries other allowance given to members of commission.

In India though government implemented many laws to control and eradicate manual scavenging, the occupation of manual scavenging still has its existence in India. Government of India also employs manual scavengers for cleaning the places at public like railway station, public toilets. As manual scavenging been a most degrading occupation which involves persons to clean the dry latrines it mingles with caste system as persons who born in particular Dalit sub- caste should engage in manual scavenging as right of  manual scavengers disturbed as they could not lead a dignified life. There are many movement initiated to focus the rights of manual scavengers but it faced failures at every stage as it mixes with the caste system. Duty bound on both Government and citizens to create a dignified and united society by eradicating manual scavengers which has its connectivity with caste system.

by Priyadarshini Chandrasekar.