IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


24th October, 2023 Social Issues

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Picture Courtesy: The Quint

Context: The Supreme Court of India, in a recent judgment, emphasized the need to completely eradicate the inhuman practice of manual scavenging.


  • Manual scavenging refers to the cleaning of sewers and dry latrines by individuals, often belonging to marginalized and oppressed communities, in extremely unsafe and unsanitary conditions. Despite the outlawing of this practice a decade earlier, it still persists, leading to tragic deaths.
  • Manual scavenging had been banned previously with the Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, 1993 and the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013. The Supreme Court had also reinforced the prohibition and called for the rehabilitation of those engaged in manual scavenging.

Key points from the Supreme Court's judgment are as follows:

  • Duty of Union and States: The court held that both the Union (the central government) and the individual States have a duty to work towards the complete eradication of manual scavenging. This should be done through the strict implementation of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013.
  • Human Dignity and Fraternity: The judgment emphasized the principles of fraternity, equality, and dignity among citizens. It argued that these principles would remain elusive if a significant portion of society is still forced to engage in manual scavenging, living in inhumane conditions and even losing their lives in the process.
  • Compensation for Sewer Deaths: The court increased the compensation for deaths that occur while cleaning sewers from ₹10 lakh to ₹30 lakh. This is an attempt to provide more financial support to the families of those who lose their lives in such hazardous work.
  • Monitoring and Enforcement: The case was listed for further monitoring in February 2024, indicating that the Supreme Court is committed to ensuring that its directives are effectively implemented.


  • The Supreme Court's judgment underscores the pressing need to address the issue of manual scavenging in India, stressing the importance of human dignity, equality, and fraternity for all citizens, particularly those who have been marginalized and trapped in this inhumane practice.

Must Read Articles:

Manual Scavenging In India: https://www.iasgyan.in/daily-current-affairs/manual-scavenging-in-india

Manual Scavenging: https://www.iasgyan.in/daily-current-affairs/manual-scavenging-23


Q. What are the key social, economic, and legislative challenges that continue to perpetuate the practice of manual scavenging in India, and what steps are being taken to eradicate this dehumanizing and dangerous occupation?