Vol. 4, Issue 4 (2018)
The manual scavengers act, 2013: A legislative move from criminalisation to rehabilitation
Author(s): Dr. SR Katari
Abstract: The Report of the Human Rights Watch-2014 indicated that, the occupation of manual scavenging is a caste based practice in India. Even after 70 years of Independence of the country laks of the dalits are continuing in the unclean occupation. They are the worst victims of cruel social order. They are forced to continue in the same work and are suffering the caste based social exclusion. They are also paid low for their work. Their health and life are threatened, as the occupation is associated with hazardous working condition. They are prone to physical and psychological disorders. They are suffering objective hardship, humiliation, exploitation and social expulsion. Social compulsion to indulge in such heinous and hazardous work is both the rights issue and a social crime as well. To protect the scavengers from such heinous practice, a series of legislations are adopted in the country. The protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955; The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prohibition of Atrocities) Act, 1989; The Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, 1993 etc., recognized the practice of involving dalits into the occupation as a punishable offence. As the stringent form of punishment provisions of these legislations failed to curb the menace finally ‘The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013’ was enacted. The Act recognized rehabilitation as the effective means of eradication of the practice. The Act provides rights based approach to prohibition of the practice and rehabilitation of the scavengers. The paper examines the legislative attempts, to curb the practice and transformation of legislative objective from criminalization of violators to rehabilitation of victims.