Chennai: The Madras High Court today directed the Tamil Nadu government to initiate criminal prosecution against the people responsible for a reported incident of manual scavenging here which came to light recently. Referring to a photograph on manual scavenging published in a newspaper, first bench comprising Chief Justice Indira Banerjee and Justice M Sundar ordered the government to ensure that such incidents do not recur. The chief justice censured her administrative staff for failing to bring to her notice a complaint based on the reported incident of manual scavenging.
The directives were issued during the hearing of a PIL by an NGO seeking payment of interest in addition to mandatory compensation payable to beneficiaries under the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013.
Earlier, petitioner A Narayanan, director of the NGO, submitted that though the court had directed the Centre on October 7, 2016 to file a report over the utilisation of Swachh Bharat funds for rehabilitating the families of deceased manual scavengers, it had not been filed yet.
Mr. Narayanan also said the state government was refusing to pay interest on the compensation which was paid years after the death of such manual scavengers.
However, the bench referred to a Supreme Court order from 2015 directing the payment of compensation of Rs. 10 lakh to the families of deceased manual scavengers and wondered how it can order payment of interest from a date prior to the apex court order.
Moreover, the Supreme Court order did not provide for payment of interest, the bench said. Directing the state government to file a status report, it adjourned the matter to November 3.
Also Read: 39 Deaths In 100 Days: How Manual Scavenging Continues To Exist In India Despite It Being Illegal