New Delhi: The Delhi high court has asked the Delhi government to pay an additional Rs 20 lakh to the families of those who die because of manual scavenging.
When one person has approached the court and received an order in his favour, it is expected that the State shall extend the same benefit to all the similarly situated persons without forcing those persons to approach the court of law, PTI quoted the bench as saying.
“This court expects that the State will endeavour to pay the balance of Rs 20 lakh to all similarly placed persons instead of forcing the family members of persons who have lost their lives in manual scavenging to approach this Court by filing writ petitions,” Justice Subramonium Prasad said.
The petitioners, widows who lost their husbands because of the dangerous, outlawed, caste-based practice, said they had received Rs 10 lakh from the Delhi government so far. The high court held that given the Supreme Court’s order, these families were entitled to Rs 30 lakh from the government.
In October last year, the Supreme Court had raised the compensation amount in cases of sewer deaths from Rs 10 lakh per victim to Rs 30 lakh. The court had also said compensation amount in the case of permanent disability should be made Rs 20 lakh, and Rs 10 lakh be given for other forms of disability. Any victims who hadn’t received this amount so far should be given it, the court had said.
Manual scavenging is an outlawed practice under the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation (PEMSR) Act, 2013. The Act bans the use of any individual for manually cleaning, carrying, disposing of, or otherwise handling, in any manner, human excreta till its disposal. However, even ten years later, this law has not meant that the practice stops.
According to the Union social justice and empowerment ministry, 339 people lost their lives while cleaning sewers and septic tanks in India between 2018 and 2023. As per the data presented before the parliament by the government, nine such deaths were recorded in 2023, 66 in 2022, 58 in 2021, 22 in 2020, 117 in 2019, and 67 deaths in 2018.