Allahabad High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Allahabad High Court: The Division Bench of Rajesh Bindal, CJ. and J.J. Munir, J. had taken note of a news item published in a newspaper on 24-05-2022 regarding cleaning of drains in the city where the workers were carrying out their job without any protective gears, this petition was registered in public interest.

In various submitted affidavits certain photographs were placed on record along with the application dated 07-06-2022 showing the manner in which the drains were still being cleaned. The Court took cognizance of the submissions and found that it is evident that no protective gears have been provided to the workers and they were still waist deep under the water for cleaning of drains. The Court further observed that some of the drains were in open areas but still no machines were being used for cleaning of the drains, though it is claimed that Nagar Nigam has number of machines available, which are being used for cleaning of drains.

The Court summoned the District Magistrate and Nagar Ayukt, Prayagraj on 25-07-2022 taking note that the affidavit which was filed by Upper Nagar Ayukt on 13-06-2022 had no response to the aforesaid factual position placed on record by the Amicus Curiae appointed by this Court.

[In Re Ensuring The Security of Life and Safety of Health of the Workmen and Employees Engaged v. Government of U.P., 2022 SCC OnLine All 475, decided on 12-07-2022]

Advocates who appeared in this case :

Mr Kunal Shah, Amicus Curiae, Advocate, for the Petitioner;

Mr Manish Goel Additional Advocate General for the State and Mr Vibhu Rai, Advocate for Nagar Nigam, for the Respondent.

*Suchita Shukla, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

High Court Round UpLegal RoundUp

Allahabad High Court


In a case where an employee of Central Bank of India petitioned to be exempted from routine transfers due to permanent disability of wife, Rajesh Singh Chauhan, J. held that the transfer is an exigency/ incidence of service and no courts are ordinarily interfered with the transfer orders but if such transfer may be avoided for any specific compelling reason and that reason is unavoidable, the Competent Authority being model employer should consider such condition sympathetically. Read more

Right to Education

The Division Bench of Rajesh Singh Chauhan and Subhash Vidyarthi, JJ., dealt with a case where the admission of a class VIII student was rejected by the school authorities without proper information being given to the parents on time, so that such student could get his admission in any other institution inasmuch as to receive proper education is a Fundamental Right enshrined under Article 21-A of the Constitution of India. Read more

Manual Scavenging

The Division Bench of Manoj Kumar Gupta and Chandra Kumar Rai, JJ., took up suo motu cognizance and directed the authorities concerned to take concrete measures for implementation so that some change is discernible in the working conditions of the sanitary workers in line with Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to be followed in cleaning sewers and septic tanks. Read more

Andhra Pradesh High Court

Habeas Corpus

A Division Bench of Tarlada Rajashekhar Rao and K Manmadha Rao, JJ., directed the State authorities to produce the detenu-wife before Court as couple is major and have agreed to live together. Read more

Bombay High Court


The Division Bench of Prasanna B. Varale and S.M. Modak, JJ. dismissed an FIR lodged under Section 376 of the Penal Code, 1860, and Section 4 of the POCSO Act, observing that the conflict had been addressed and the girl and boy intended to marry. Read more

Personal Liberty

A.S. Chandurkar and Amit Borkar, JJ., stated that the right to travel abroad is spelled out in Article 21 of the Constitution and that the provisions of the Recovery of Debts Due to Banks and Financial Institutions Act, 1993, do not implicitly confer such powers on the Debt Recovery Tribunal to restrain a person from travelling abroad. Read more

Extra-Marital Affair

The Division Bench of Sunil B. Shukre and G.A. Sanap, JJ., granted an application to quash an FIR filed under Section 306, 34 Penal Code. Read more

Advertisement/ Qualification

The petitioners contested a School Tribunal judgement ordering them to reinstate the respondent/employee. In overturning the Tribunal’s decision, the Bench of Rohit B. Deo, J. clarified that job advertisements are not limited to reserved positions. Under the Maharashtra Employees of Private Schools (Conditions of Service) Regulation Act, 1977, it is also obligatory to advertise the positions in the open category. Read more

Motor Vehicles Act, 1988

S.G. Mehare, J., authorised an appeal against the July 30, 2001 order of the Commissioner for Workmen’s Compensation and Judge Labour Court. Read more

Burden of Proof

The appeal against the appellant’s conviction for the offence is punishable under section 302 of the Penal Code, 1860, whereby he was sentenced to suffer R.I. for life and a fine of Rs. 5,000, was permitted by the Division Bench of Sadhana S. Jadhav and Milind N. Jadhav, JJ. Read more

Copyright Infringement

RI Chagla J. awarded an ad-interim injunction in favour of the “Janhit Mein Jaari” film’s creators and ordered the defendants to take down infringing links right away. Read more

Hindu Marriage Act

Bharati Dangre, J. dismissed a writ petition brought by the petitioner-husband against maintenance order towards his daughter stating that an unmarried major Daughter is entitled for maintenance from her father and glossy life on Instagram do not prove independent and sufficient income to exempt petitioner’s responsibility/liability. Read more

Consent vis a vis Sexual Relationship

Bharati Dangre, J. rejected an anticipatory bail application which was filed apprehending arrest for the offences punishable under Sections 376(2)(n), 376(2)(h) and 417 of the Penal Code, 1860 and held that merely sharing friendly relationship with a girl does not permit a boy to take her for granted and construe it as her consent to establish physical relationship. Read more

Departmental Proceedings

The Division Bench of S.B. Shukre and G. A. Sanap, JJ. sets aside an FIR for the offences punishable under Sections 13(1)(c)(d) and 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988 in the matter of departmental proceedings being based on identical/similar charges as criminal proceedings cannot be proceeded with if accused was exonerated in departmental proceedings based on identical/similar charges. Read more

Calcutta High Court

Gratuity/ Pension

Amrita Sinha, J. dismissed a petition filed by an Assistant Teacher who retired on October 31, 2020, concerning the delayed payment of the gratuity and arrear pension amount. Read more

Dispute Bill

Sabyasachi Bhattacharyya, J. granted a petition directing CESC Ltd. to restore the petitioner’s electricity supply unconditionally. Read more

Peaceful Procession

Shampa Sarkar, J. heard a petition alleging that the Commissioner of Police, Kolkata, denied Utshi United Primary Teachers Welfare Association permission to march peacefully from Raja Subodh Mullick Square Park to Rani Rashmoni Avenue on June 11, 2022. Read more

Reasonable Opportunity

The Division Bench of Debangsu Basak and Bibhas Ranjan De, JJ. dismissed an appeal directed against the order dated 09-02-2022, holding that, despite the assessee receiving additional evidence regarding the quantum of tax liability after the conclusion of the order or refund, there was no material irregularity in the order of refund warranting interference under Article 226 of the Indian Constitution. Read more

Child Trafficking

Ananya Bandyopadhyay and Joymalya Bagchi, JJ., the division bench, denied a request for bail in a human trafficking case. The report was read in court, and it said that on June 14, 2022, psychological treatment was provided to trafficking victims. A request has been submitted for the lawful award of interim compensation. To provide the aforementioned witnesses with the security they need, measures were taken. Read more


A revisional application was filed for the quashing of the proceedings under Sections 3, 4, 5, 7, and 18 of the Immoral Traffic (Prevention) Act, 1956 (commonly referred to as the “I.T.(P) Act”) read with Section 120-B of the Penal Code, 1860,” and also for the setting aside of the order by which the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate took cognizance against the current petitioner. This application was granted by Judge Ajoy Kumar Mukherjee. Read more

Victim Compensation Scheme

After hearing a petition, Moushumi Bhattacharya, J. gave instructions about the non-payment of victim compensation following a decision made by the Secretary of the District Legal Services Authority setting the compensation amount at Rs. 1,50,000/-. Read more


The Arbitral Tribunal’s award was affirmed by Shekhar B. Saraf, J., who also ruled that the award holder should be held liable for the full sum, plus interest and additional fees. Read more

Delhi High Court

Arbitration & Conciliation

While addressing the ineligibility of an arbitrator to be appointed, Vibhu Bhakru, J., elaborated on the expression ‘close family member’ and the likelihood of bias. Read more

Dishonour of Cheque

Asha Menon, J. refused to allow a petition filed under Section 482 CrPC seeking quashing of summoning order passed by the Metropolitan Magistrate, Patiala House Courts in a complaint filed by the respondents 1 and 2 against the petitioner under Section 138 read with Section 142 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881. Read more

Income Tax Act

The Division Bench of Manmohan and Manmeet Pritam Singh Arora, JJ., expressed that, merely because there was a delay of one day in asking for an adjournment, the assessee living outside India cannot be denied his right to file an objection to Show Cause notice. The present petition had been filed challenging the order passed under Section 148 A (d) of the Income Tax Act, 1961, and the notice was passed under Section 148 of the Act. Read more

A Division Bench of Manmohan and Manmeet Pritam Singh Arora JJ. dismissed the petition and ordered the respondents to refund the amount adjusted more than 10% of the disputed tax demands for the Assessment Year 2017-18 to the petitioner. Read more


While hearing an application against an arbitral tribunal’s award, Vibhu Bakhru, J. ruled that the arbitral tribunal could not rewrite or examine the parties’ agreement. Read more

FATF/ Economic Security

The Division Bench of Mukta Gupta and Mini Pushkarna, JJ., stated that the simple smuggling of gold without any link to a danger to the country’s economic security or monetary stability is not a “terrorist crime” under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act. Read more

Police Post

In a case where a police officer was injured after being attacked with an illegal weapon outside of the police station, Talwant Singh, J., stated that a police station is a place where people go to lodge complaints about disputes among themselves, not a place where public servants are supposed to be attacked. Read more

Trademark Infringement

Prathiba M. Singh, J. granted Colorbar Cosmetics Private Limited an ad interim ex parte injunction, restraining the Canada-based Faces Cosmetics India Private Limited from manufacturing, selling, and offering for sale cosmetics and other products under the trademark “Velvet matte.” Read more

Jyoti Singh, J. granted an ex-parte injunction and noted that a stricter approach is required in cases of medicinal preparations and products because any confusion between the respective medicinal products is likely to have a disastrous effect on public health. Read more

Dinesh Kumar Sharma J. granted an ex parte injunction to Voltas Limited restraining a website from using their registered trademark and logo VOLTAS and block and suspend the website. Read more

Matrimonial Offences

Swarana Kanta Sharma, J., stated that cases under Section 376 of the Penal Code, 1860 should not be quashed and should not be considered a crime against the society at large. However, in unusual circumstances, where the complainant states that her future depends on the quashing of the FIR and adds that the rape was not committed upon her, it would be in the interest of justice to quash the FIR. Read more


Geetanjali Goel, J. upholds the discharge of Delhi CM and others in the Anshu Prakash assault case, finding no reason to interfere with the Trial Court’s impugned order and dismissing the petition as without merit. Read more


A Division Bench of Manmohan and Manmeet Pritam Singh Arora, JJ., dismissed the petition and ordered a new adjudication since the Assessing Officer did not examine any of the representations and contentions. Read more

Organ Donation

Yashwant Verma, J. dismissed the petition and directed the respondent hospital to process the petitioner’s application and request following the law. Read more


A Division Bench of Mukta Gupta and Mini Pushkarna, JJ., maintained the assailed conviction decision, citing the accused’s terrible act of rape on a four-year-old child from his close family. Read more

Income Tax

Jyoti Singh and Anoop Kumar Mendiratta, JJ., of the Division Bench, struck aside notices addressed to a deceased assessee despite being informed of his death by his relatives. Read more


Pratibha M Singh, J. issued directives to domain name registrars whose offices are located outside of India and whose details are not disclosed so that they do not avoid injunction orders issued by Indian courts. Read more


Manoj Kumar Ohri J. dismissed the petition because the employer-employee relationship was established before the court by a witness and strict rules of evidence are not applicable in such cases. Read more

Controller of Patents

The applicant did not intend to abandon, the court should be lenient in its approach if it is convinced that the patent agent made a mistake and the applicant can demonstrate full diligence, said Pratibha M. Singh J., who also excused the delay in filing the applicant’s reply to the First Examination Reports. Read more

Foreign National Reservation

The refusal of admission by AIIMS and PGIMER was supported by Sanjeev Narula, J., because PGIMER did not promote seats for foreign nationals simply because it mentioned the requirements for admission as a foreign citizen in its prospectus. Read more

Mandamus / Judicial Review

Table tennis players Swastika Ghosh and Manush Shah, who had challenged the decision made by the Table Tennis Federation of India on the athletes who will represent India in the Commonwealth Games in 2022, were refused relief by Dinesh Kumar Sharma, J. Read more

Gujarat High Court


Biren Vaishnav, J. dismissed a petition filed by a petitioner who was dissatisfied with the award dated 14-02-2020, which directed the petitioner-State of Gujarat to pay the respondent-sweeper salary for four hours of work per day, plus arrears from the date of reinstatement. Read more


Biren Vaishnav, J. dismissed a petition filed by a petitioner who was dissatisfied with the award dated 14-02-2020, which directed the petitioner-State of Gujarat to pay the respondent-sweeper salary for four hours of work per day, plus arrears from the date of reinstatement. Read more

Family Law

The Division Bench of Vipul M. Pancholi and Rajendra M. Sareen, JJ., rejected a plea brought by the father under Article 226 of the Indian Constitution seeking custody of his daughter. Read more

Arms Act

The licence under the Arms Act of 1959 (“the Arms Act”) for self-defense was rejected by the District Magistrate, and the Additional Secretary Home Department of the State Government upheld the previous ruling in an appeal. The petitioner filed a challenge, which was accepted by Judge A.S. Supehia. Read more


A petition asking for a directive to nullify and disregard the Seniority List of Multi-Purpose Health Workers was granted by Judge Biren Vaishnav. Read more


A.S. Supehia, J. allowed a writ petition directing Bank to deposit PPF amount deducted for settlement of liability that the amount of Public Provident Fund account shall not be liable to any attachment in respect of any debt or liability incurred by the account holder. Read more

Gauhati High Court

Anticipatory Bail

Sanjay Kumar Medhi, J. denied a petitioner’s request for bail under Section 438 of the Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 (CrPC), in a case that was filed under Sections 21(c) and 29 of the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985. Read more

Drug and Food Safety

According to Rumi Kumari Phookan J., only a food inspector can investigate offences under the Food Safety and Standards Act, 2006 (FSS Act), and Maharashtra Police lacks both jurisdiction and jurisdictional authority to do so. As a result, the court ordered Maharashtra Police to pay the petitioner Rs. 2,00000 as petition costs. Read more

Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act

While granting bail to the applicant herein, under Section 439 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC) for a case registered under Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, 1985, Ajit Borthakur, J. held that the provisions of Section 37 of the NDPS Act shall not be applicable if the service courier driver is unaware of what is being transported by him. Read more

Himachal Pradesh High Court

Arbitral Proceeding

In the case where it was argued before the Court that the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 does not provide for any remedy to challenge an arbitral order and was therefore contrary to the “public policy of India,” Satyen Vaidya J. observed that, “The term “public policy of India” carries within it innumerable facets. Read more

Bail/ Parole

The plea for a parole extension filed under Section 482 of the Criminal Procedure Code (the “CrPC”) was denied by Judge Vivek Singh Thakur because Article 226 of the Indian Constitution provides the appropriate remedy. Read more

Jammu & Kashmir and Ladakh High Court

Anticipatory Bail

While deliberating on an anticipatory bail application concerning an FIR registered in Neemuch, Madhya Pradesh, the Bench of Sanjay Dhar, J., considered whether this High Court has the jurisdiction to grant bail in a case that has been registered beyond its local limits of jurisdiction under Section 438, CrPC. Read more

Right to Life

While reviewing the information and concerns provided by the petitioners, the M.A. Chowdhary, J. bench made some important remarks regarding the voluntary marriage of two adults. The Court declared that Articles 19 and 21 of the Constitution properly recognise a couple’s right to get married. Read more

Kashmiri Pandits

The bench of Sindhu Sharma, J., dismissed the petition because the petitioners lacked any inalienable right to allotment of government housing when ruling on the instant petition filed by 3 retired State Bank of India employees who had retained their respective government accommodations and were unhappy with the rent being charged at a commercial rate. Read more

Jharkhand High Court

Qualification for promotion

Anubha Rawat Choudhary, J. held that the respondent had the necessary experience of guiding research at the Doctoral level as of the cut-off date in a case relating to qualification to be appointed as a professor at Vinoba Bhave University, even though the concerned research student did not receive her degree. Read more

Karnataka High Court


M Nagaprasanna, J., annulled the proceedings against the petitioners in Byadarahalli Police Station Crime No.87 of 2022, which was pending before the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Bangalore Rural District, Bangalore. Read more

Agricultural land compensation

A Division Bench of Alok Aradhe and J M Khazi, JJ., rejected the appeal and overturned the impugned verdict, ordering the appellants to determine and pay the compensation to the respondents. Read more

Protection of Witness

S. Sunil Dutt Yadav, J. listed a few causes of investigation delay, the primary causes of low conviction rate, the consequences of investigation delay, and guidelines for speedy investigation. Read more


M. Nagaprasanna, J. granted the petition in part and remarked that the quadrangle’s protagonists should resolve the issue among them rather than drag other people into the proceedings. Read more

Principles of Natural Justice

S.G. Pandit, J. dismissed the petition, leaving respondent-Railway authorities free to take action against the catering services after providing them with an opportunity under the law. Read more

Cruelty/ Divorce

The plea was partially granted by the division bench of S. Sunil Dutt Yadav and K.S. Hemalekha, JJ. The parties’ marriage was ended due to mental cruelty for the wife’s unfounded accusations against the husband. Read more

Domestic Violence

M. Nagaprasanna J. granted the petition and ordered that the application for maintenance be decided within two weeks after receiving a copy of this decision. Read more

Child sexual offence

The victim has now turned 18 years old, so the strictures under S. 33(5) of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Act, 2012 (the “POCSO Act”) are no longer relevant. Therefore, M. Nagaprasanna, J. granted the petition filed to conduct an additional cross-examination of the child victim. Read more

Dowry Death

The FIR against the lady who had illicit connections with the complainant’s husband and was charged under Section 498-A of the Penal Code, 1860 was dismissed by Hemant Chandangoudar J. Read more

Dishonour of Cheque

M. Nagarprasanna J. allowed a petition filed under Section 482 of Criminal Procedure Code, 1973 (CrPC) and directed that interim compensation which would vary from 1% to 20% after recording necessary reasons be given as per the “conduct of the accused” for the applications filed under Section 143-A of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 (NI Act). Read more

Kerala High Court

Habeas Corpus/ Special Marriage

A Division Bench of K Vinod Chandra and C Vijayachandran, JJ. dismissed the plea and denied the requested relief, concluding that the detainee maintained that he was not under any unlawful confinement. Read more


Taking note of the alarming increase in the number of sexual offences committed against schoolchildren, Bechu Kurian Thomas, J., directed the Kerala Government and the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to include sessions/classes in the school curriculum on the provisions of the Protection of Children from Sexual Offenses Act, 2012. Read more

NTPC/ Discrimination

The decision by V.G. Arun, J., that NTPC’s notification for the recruitment of Assistant Law Officers is discriminatory and in violation of Article 16 of the Constitution because it restricts the selection process to only CLAT PG-2021 candidates comes as a significant relief to non-NLU law graduates looking for employment opportunities in PSUs. Read more


A. Muhamed Mustaque and Sophy Thomas, JJ., who made up the Division Bench, ruled that cruelty must be judged from the viewpoint of a spouse, or how that spouse would interpret the actions of the other spouse, to be considered. Read more

Anticipatory Bail

Vijay Babu, a film producer and artist, was granted anticipatory bail by Bechu Kurian Thomas, J., in a high-profile rape case that sparked outrage in the film industry. The Court ruled that there is no legal prohibition against granting anticipatory bail to a person who is physically present overseas. Read more

Reproductive Rights

The Assisted Reproductive Technology (Regulation) Act of 2021 prohibits the sale of human gametes, zygotes, and embryos but does not forbid a couple from using their embryo to conceive a child. This is why V.G. Arun, J., allowed a couple to transfer their frozen embryo to another hospital for infertility treatment. Read more

Pre Arrest Bail

In a case concerning attacks against doctors and medical institutions, Bechu Kurian Thomas, J., denied pre arrest bail and held that granting pre-arrest bail to an accused who is alleged to have committed violence against a healthcare professional will send a wrong message to the public. Read more

Compulsory Licensing

While adjudicating a petition filed by a breast cancer patient seeking to afford life-saving medicines which otherwise cost more than twice her monthly income, V. G. Arun, J. directed Central Government to consider compulsory licensing of the breast cancer drug “Ribociclib”. Read more

Madhya Pradesh High Court


Anand Pathak, J. granted a petition filed under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure seeking the dismissal of an FIR filed against the petitioner and subsequent criminal proceedings for an offence under Sections 376 and 506 of the Penal Code, 1860. Read more

Bail/ Corruption

The applicant was arrested on February 3, 2022, for a crime punishable by Sections 409, 420, 467, 468, 471, 201, and 120-B of the Penal Code, 1860, as well as Sections 7, 13(1) and 13(2) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, 1988. Anand Pathak, J. refused the applicant’s motion for bail. Read more

Arya Samaj

A petition was submitted to address and investigate several concerns regarding marriages solemnized in Arya Samaj Vivah Mandir Trust, and the Division Bench of Rohit Arya and Milind Ramesh Phadke, JJ. accepted it. Read more

Motor Vehicle

While dismissing an appeal filed under Section 173(1) of the Motor Vehicles Act, 1988 , Vishal Dhagat, J. held that the present case is a case of misrepresentation on the part of legal representatives/driver/owner of vehicle in contracting with the appellant for purchase of policy in name of deceased owner as contract entered between the parties is not voidable. Read more

Madras High Court

Mental Illness

G R Swaminathan J. answered in negative to the moot consideration that can certifying authority insist a Child suffering from mental illness, who requires a disability certificate, to come to premises of institution for assessment. Read more

Educational certificate

While addressing the grievance of some qualified doctors, G.R. Swaminathan, J. stated that because an educational certificate is not a marketable commodity, no lien can be exercised under Section 171 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872. Read more

Income Tax Appellate Tribunal

G. Chandrasekharan, J. declined to quash prosecution against actor SJ Suryah as the order of the Income Tax Appellate Authority, cancelling the assessment orders was not on merits. Read more

Social Media Intermediaries

B. Pugalendhi, J., revoked the bail of a YouTuber who made disparaging statements about the former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu. Read more

Documentary/Oral Evidence

Senthil Kumar Ramamoorthy, J., stated that a suit cannot be hurriedly determined at the request of a plaintiff unless the plaintiff convinces the court that the suit claim has been fully established. Read more

Income Tax

A Division Bench of R Mahadevan and Sathya Narayan Prasad, JJ. rejected the tax appeal because guarantee commission and royalty must be subtracted from company profit to calculate the deduction under Section 80 HHC of the Income Tax Act, 1961. Read more

Service Rules

S M Subramaniam, J. upheld the decision taken by Indian Banks Association to unilaterally withdraw the facility for State Bank of India officers to visit overseas countries as part of Leave Travel Concession ‘LTC’/ Home Travel Concession ‘HTC’. Read more

Meghalaya High Court


W Diengdoh J. quashed a POCSO case opining that just holding the hands of the victim girl and complimenting them would not amount to sexual intent or sexual assault under POCSO. Read more


The appeal, which challenged the April 27, 2021 judgement of conviction finding the appellant guilty under Section 376(2) of the Penal Code, 1860, was decided by the Division Bench of Sanjib Banerjee, CJ. and W. Diengdoh, J. The main focus of the appeal was the 20 years of rigorous imprisonment and Rs. 50,000 fine that was imposed. Read more

Public Interest Litigation

A petition concerning the current health-care system was heard by the Division Bench of Sanjib Banerjee, CJ, and W. Diengdoh, J. Read more

Life Imprisonment

The Division Bench of Sanjib Banerjee, Chief Justice, and W. Diengdoh, J., dismissed the petition and set aside the conviction order, which was directed against a judgment of conviction under Section 302 of the Penal Code, 1860 and the order of punishment, which sentenced him to life in prison. Read more

Orissa High Court


S.K. Panigrahi, J., denied the petition, stating that “no plea for a change of date of birth after five years from the joining date will be considered.” Read more

Transgender Rights

A.K. Mohapatra, J., has been instructed to complete the trans-sexual woman’s application for a family pension as soon as feasible, ideally within six weeks after receiving a certified copy of the order. Read more

Administrative laches

S. K. Panigrahi, J., ordered the State to pay simple interest at the rate of 6 percent per year on postponed salary within 30 days of today. Read more

Guardian and Wards Act

The case was dismissed by a Division Bench consisting of SK Sahoo and M S Raman JJ., giving the petitioner the freedom to seek the proper remedy before the proper venue in line with the law. Read more

Central Information Commission

A Division Bench of S. Muralidhar and R.K. Pattnaik, JJ. issued a declaratory writ to the effect that the impugned notification dated 11-08-2016 issued by the Information and Public Relations Department, Government of Odisha under Section 24(4) of the Right to Information Act, 2005 (‘RTI Act’), will not permit the Government to deny information pertaining to the Vigilance Department involving allegations of corruption and human rights violations, and other information that does not touch upon any of the sensitive and confidential activities undertaken by the Vigilance Department. Read more


Arindam Sinha, J. criticised the State for not following the procedure and granted compensation to a woman who conceived even after being sterilised by the State. Read more

Patna High Court

Right to Sanitation

Sanitation is a private, individual matter that is intimately connected to human dignity. Additionally, cleanliness has a crucial public health component. According to a recent ruling by the Division Bench of Sanjay Karol CJ and S. Kumar J, the right to sanitation falls under the purview of Article 21 and as a result, the State, National Highway Authority of India, and Oil Marketing Companies have been instructed to build public restrooms and other conveniences along all of Bihar’s highways. Read more


While dealing with a case of rape, A M Badar, J. observed that mere non-offering of physical resistance by a rape survivor cannot amount to the consent given by a woman for sexual activity under Section 375 of the Indian Penal Code (‘IPC’). Read more

Punjab & Haryana High Court

Religious Beliefs

Karamajit Singh, J., directed the State of Punjab not to take “coercive steps” against Raveena Tandon, Farah Khan, Bharti Singh, Screen Abbas Aziz Dalal, and Frames Production in response to their petition seeking the quashing of an FIR filed against them for allegedly hurting religious sentiments during a Flipkart web show titled “Backbenchers.” Read more


In a petition under section 439 CrPC for regular bail under sections 22, 25, 27-A, and 29 of the NDPS Act, Jasjit Singh Bedi, J., expanded the petitioner-accused on bail while repeating the observations made by various Courts, including the Supreme Court, on the requirement that section 42 of the NDPS Act be complied with by the relevant authority. Read more

Muslim Personal Law

After the petitioners were forced into marriage, a writ petition was filed to seek the protection of their life and liberty from family members. Jasjit Singh Bedi, J. instructed the Senior Superintendent of Police to determine the petitioners’ claims regarding the threat to their life and liberty after taking into account the petitioners’ capacity to enter into a legal marriage contract and attending to their concerns. Read more

Rajasthan High Court

Bailable Warrant

Dinesh Mehta, J. granted the petition and stated that while expediting the disposition of cases is important, so is adhering to the mandate of the law, including procedural law. Read more

Culpable Homicide

Farjand Ali, J. rejected the petitioner’s request for bail after finding that the investigating agency had overlooked several relevant pieces of evidence. The petitioner was accused of committing an honour killing. Read more

Police Protection

Sameer Jain J. granted police protection and directed the State authorities to charge an appropriate fee from the couple seeking police protection before the Court, if the income is found to be more than the taxable income under the Income Tax Act, 1961. Read more

Telangana High Court

Anticipatory Bail

Juvvadi Sridevi, J., granted anticipatory bail pending the conclusion of the inquiry and the submission of the final report. The Court remarked that the accused 2/petitioner 2 did not appear to have been served with a notice under Section 41-A CrPC, whereas the accused 1/petitioner 1 was simply provided with the notice. Read more

Prevention of Money Laundering

K. Lakshman, J. upheld the petitioner’s appeal against the Directorate of Enforcement’s (ED) request to extend the petitioner’s judicial custody so that the investigation could be finished, stating that a complaint filed without a complete investigation cannot be used to avoid the right to statutory bail under Section 167(2) CrPC. Read more

Maintenance under Section 125 CrPC

In a maintenance case, Sathish Reddy, J. stated that the wife’s earning capacity cannot be used to deny her maintenance. Read more

Commercial Courts Act

The appeal was allowed by the Division Bench of P. Naveen Rao and Sambasivarao Naidu, JJ., who overturned the impugned order’s stance that any disagreement arising from a contract involving real estate that is solely used for business or commerce and whose “specified value” exceeds one crore belongs in a commercial court alone. Read more

Tripura High Court


While noting that there were no legitimate grounds to deny the employee gratuity and other retrial benefits, Arindam Lodh, J. directed the employer to release the employee’s gratuity, pension, and other retrial benefits. Read more

*Arunima Bose has put this report together.


NHRC, India has taken suo motu cognizance of a media report with the photographs of a man chest-deep in a muck standing inside a drain in the Kashmere Gate area of Delhi, reportedly under the PWD Department. The Commission has observed that the incident indicates that despite unwarranted deaths in sewers and sheer indignity of the work, manual cleaning of drains continues in the National Capital.

Accordingly, it has issued a notice to the Chief Secretary, Government of NCT of Delhi calling for a detailed report by specifically intimating the measures that the Government of Delhi has already taken or likely to be taken to prevent such gross violation of human rights of poor and underprivileged people, who are susceptible to be employed for this type of manual scavenging or sewage cleaning without any mechanical device by the public/ private organizations. The response is expected within four weeks.

The Commission has also observed that despite specific judgments given by the Apex Court and guidelines issued from time to time by different government agencies, the sewage workers are still being exposed to extreme danger and being subjected to indignity by the public authorities.

The Commission had also issued Advisory on Protection of Human Rights of the person engaged in Manual Scavenging or Hazardous Cleaning on 24th September, 2021, which was circulated to the Chief Secretaries of all States and Administrator of all UTs and the Union Ministries of Social Justice and Empowerment, Housing and Urban Affairs and to the Secretary, National Commission for Safai Karmacharis.

According to the media report, carried on 3rd April, 2022, the NHRC had taken suo motu cognizance of an incident two days back in which four persons had died in a sewer in Rohini area of Delhi. Reportedly, such incidents clearly show that the manual cleaning of sewer is still being allowed by the government agencies and the poor workers taking advantage of the desperately needy who out of sheer necessity accepts the hazardous work for the mere income.

National Human Rights Commission

Hot Off The PressNews

NHRC Chairperson expresses serious concern over wide spread continuance of manual scavenging and hazardous cleaning; calls for implementation of innovative techniques to end this menace

Justice  A. K. Mishra, the Chairperson, said that the toilets constructed as part of Swachch Bharat Mission were expected to help in the eradication of manual scavenging. But these also suffer from several shortcomings. According to the National Annual Rural Sanitation Survey 2019-20, only 27.3 percent of the toilets surveyed have a double leach pit; 1.1 percent goes into a sewer while all others empty into some form of a septic tank or single pits which requires manual cleaning.

Mr Justice P.C Pant, Member, NHRC, said that the toxicity of the society in the form of denials of basic human rights of manual scavengers needs to be nullified.

The meeting was attended by Mr. Bimadhar Pradhan, Secretary-General, Mr. R.K Khandelwal, Additional Secretary, NHRC and representatives from Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment, Municipal Corporations of Hyderabad, Chennai, Kolkata, Mumbai, Civil Society Organization members & NGOs.

The key pointers were

• Replicate Best Practices across selected Municipal Corporations (Hyderabad, Chennai etc.)

• Evaluating the impact of Mechanisation & Technology on Manual Scavenging

• Various centrally sponsored schemes & programs run by Ministries to be implemented to fill existing gaps.

The NHRC has on many occasions expressed grave concern on the persistence of the practice of manual scavenging in the past through its various letters, National Seminars and Regional Workshops urging concerned stakeholders to take adequate steps towards eradicating these hazardous practices.

National Human Rights Commission

[Press Release dt. 5-07-2021]

Case BriefsHigh Courts

Orissa High Court: A Division Bench of S. Muralidhar, CJ and B.P Routray, J., directed 10 lakh compensation to be paid to the grieving families and made noteworthy observations regarding the sorry plight of manual scavengers.

The present petition has been taken up suo motu after notice of the tragic deaths of sanitation workers in the two recent incidents one in Bhubaneshwar and other in Cuttack. In the first incident in Cuttack, two sanitation workers engaged in manually cleaning a sewer line died of asphyxiation. In the second incident in Bhubaneswar two sanitation workers, Sunaram Sardar (55) and Silup Birua (25) engaged in the maintenance of a sewage tank, died of Asphyxiation as they entered the septic tank that was over 25 feet deep, without any protective gear, and became unconscious due to asphyxiation.

The Court observed that it appears that in both incidents, there were egregious violations of the mandatory provisions contained in Section 7 read with Section 2 (1) (d) and Section 9 of The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act i.e. PEMSR Act as well as Rules 3 to 8 of the PEMSR Rules, 2013.

The Court stated that the social evil involving deaths of sanitation workers and/or manual scavengers where they happen to belong from scheduled castes (SCs) or the scheduled tribes (ST), the provisions particularly Sections 2 (1) (bf) and 3 (1) (j) of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 i.e. SC/ST POA Act might get attracted.

It was further observed that Article 17 abolishes untouchability, forbidding its practice in any form and declaring that enforcement of any disability arising out of untouchability shall be an offence punishable in accordance with law, it was with the hope that the practice of untouchability in general and manual scavenging, in particular, would not continue in a free and independent India.

The Court further relied on judgment Safai Karmachari Andolan v. Union of India, (2014) 11 SCC 224, the Supreme Court of India held that the PEMSR Act “expressly acknowledges Article 17 and Article 21 and rights of the persons engaged in sewage cleaning and cleaning tanks as well as persons cleaning human excreta on railway tracks.”

The Court further relied on judgment Delhi Jal Board v. National Campaign for Dignity & Rights of Sewerage & Allied Workers (2011) 8 SCC 568 wherein it was observed

“….no one would like to enter the manhole of sewage system for cleaning purposes, but there are people who are forced to undertake such hazardous jobs with the hope that at the end of the day they will be able to make some money and feed their family. They risk their lives for the comfort of others. Unfortunately, for last few decades, a substantial segment of the urban society has become insensitive to the plight of the poor and downtrodden including those, who, on account of sheer economic compulsions, undertake jobs/works which are inherently dangerous to life. People belonging to this segment do not want to understand why a person is made to enter manhole without safety gears and proper equipments. They look the other way when the body of a worker who dies in the manhole is taken out with the help of ropes and cranes. In this scenario, the Courts are not only entitled but are under constitutional obligation to take cognizance of the issues relating to the lives of the people who are forced to undertake jobs which are hazardous and dangerous to life.”

Thus the Court laid down comprehensive directions to be followed by the concerned authorities regarding compensation, criminal nature of the act, vigilance regarding such matters etc. In the instant case the court “…..requests the Secretary, Odisha State Legal Services Authority (OSLSA) to immediately contact the family of the victims, both in Cuttack and in Bhubaneswar, and if they need legal assistance, to forthwith inform both the AC”

In view of the above, matter was listed for 10-05-2021.[Death of sanitation Workers v. State of Odisha, 2021 SCC OnLine Ori 383, decided on 19-04-2021]

Arunima Bose, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

Kerala High Court
Case BriefsHigh Courts

Kerala High Court: The Division Bench comprising of S. Manikumar, CJ and Shaji P. Chaly, J., heard the instant PIL regarding demand to give adequate and sufficient compensation to the workmen, who died on 13-04-014 inside the manhole of Kerala Water Authority sewerage pipeline. It was stated that when the employees were engaged in manhole of sewerage pipelines, adequate and necessary safeguards ought to taken by the Water Authority officials, so as to avoid any accident.

The petitioner relied on the order of Supreme Court in Delhi Jal Board v. National Campaign for Dignity and Rights of Sewerage and Allied Workers, (2011) 8 SCC 568, wherein the Court had issued guidelines, instructions and orders to be adhered, while workers are entering inside the manhole of sewerage pipeline for cleaning. According to the petitioner, the presence of at least an Assistant Engineer of the Kerala Water Authorities in the workplace was mandatory.

Engaging of workmen by the principal employer, Kerala Water Authority, without providing adequate and sufficient gears and tools like oxygen masks to the workers, resulted in the death of two poor workmen inside the manhole.

The Police and Fire and Rescue Service personnel, who had reached the spot, did not have the necessary required tools, to rescue the poor workmen.

Reliance was also placed by the petitioner on Safai Karamchari Andolan v. Union of India, (2014) 11 SCC 224, wherein the Supreme Court had laid down detailed directions for the upliftment of manhole workers.  The following directions were issued:

(i) The persons included in the final list of manual scavengers under Sections 11 and 12 of the 2013 Act, shall be rehabilitated as per the provisions of Part IV of the 2013 Act, in the following manner, namely:-

(a) such initial, one time, cash assistance;

(b) their children shall be entitled to scholarship

(c) allotment of a residential plot and financial assistance for house construction, or a ready-built house with financial assistance;

(d) at least one member of their family, shall be given  training in livelihood skill and shall be paid a monthly stipend during such period;

(e) at least one adult member of their family, shall be given, subsidy and concessional loan for taking up an alternative occupation on sustainable basis;

(f) shall be provided such other legal and programmatic assistance, as the Central Government or State Government may notify in this behalf.

(ii) If the practice of manual scavenging has to be brought to a close and also to prevent future generations from the inhuman practice of manual scavenging, rehabilitation of manual scavengers would need to include:-

(a) Sewer deathsentering sewer lines without safety gears should be made a crime even in emergency situations. For each such death, compensation of Rs. 10 lakhs should be given to the family of the deceased.

(b) Railways – should take time bound strategy to end manual scavenging on the tracks.

(c) Persons released from manual scavenging should not have to cross hurdles to receive what is their legitimate due under the law.

(d) Provide support for dignified livelihood to safai karamchari women in accordance with their choice of livelihood schemes.

(iii) Identify the families of all persons who have died in sewerage work since 1993 and award compensation of Rs.10 lakhs for each such death to the family members depending on them.

(iv) Rehabilitation must be based on the principles of justice and transformation.  

In the light of pronouncement of the Supreme Court in Safai Karamchari Andolan case the Bench ordered the state to pay compensation of Rs 10,00,000 each, to the family members of the persons, who died in sewerage work (manholes, septic tanks). Court, within a period of two months in addition to Rs 4,00,000 which had been already paid to the wives of the deceased.[Baisil Attippety v. Kerala Water Authority, WP(C) No. 11185 of 2014, decided on 18-03-2021]

Kamini Sharma, Editorial Assistant has reported this brief.

Appearance before the Court by:

For the petitioner: Adv. K.P. Pradeep

For the respondents: Sr. Adv. P. Benjamin Paul, Sr. GP. V. Tek Chand and Sr. Adv. Millu Dandapani

Op EdsOP. ED.

The evil practice of manual scavenging is still on the table, and is not fully eradicated. Various judicial and executive attempts have been made since decades to exclude this practice from the society, but still people from the lower class are exploited and in return of monetary benefits, their dignity gets discarded. Recently, two petitions were filed in the Karnataka High Court, both concerning with the exclusion and non-compliance of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013[1]. The first petition was filed by High Court Legal Services Committee and the second one by All India Central Council of Trade Union (Karnataka State Unit).

The Karnataka High Court, on December 9 issued some interim directions in All India Council of Trade Unions v. Union of India[2], and the observations made by the court is equally important to draw a line between non-compliance of the Act concerned and how manual scavenger can be restricted accordingly within the state. These directions should not be only confined up to the State of Karnataka but also, other states should follow them as an advisory to tackle the evil practice.

Manual Scavenging: A Crime against Human Dignity

The Preamble to the Act has been structured to deliver some amount of justice to those who have been suffering since ages. The Preamble reads out that – “And whereas it is necessary to correct the historical injustice and indignity suffered by the manual scavengers, and to rehabilitate them to a life of dignity”. But the question of implementation is stuck somewhere beneath the table. In the opening para, the court had rightly made it crystal clear that there is no place for manual scavenging under the Constitutional shelter as it vandalises the trinity of equality, fraternity and liberty. On these lines, it was observed by the court that:

“There can be no dispute that our Constitutional philosophy does not permit any form of manual scavenging. Right of a citizen to live with dignity is an integral part of the fundamental rights guaranteed to the citizens under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. The Preamble of the Constitution shows that the Constitution seeks to protect the dignity of an individual. There can be no dispute that manual scavenging is most inhuman and it infringes the fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 21. If any citizen is forced to do manual scavenging, it will be a gross violation of his fundamental right conferred under Article 21 of the Constitution of India. Under Article 47 of the Constitution of India which is a part of directive principles of the State policy, the state is under an obligation to endeavour to improve the standard of living of its people. Under Article 42 of the Constitution, the State must endeavour for securing just and humane conditions of work.”[3]

Who is a Manual Scavenger?

The court while dealing with the issue on scavenging, had exhaustively dealt with the various important definitions given in the Act. The meaning of manual scavenger has been marked under Section 2(g) which states that a person engaged or employed, at the commencement of this Act or at any time thereafter, by an individual or a local authority or an agency or a contractor, for manually cleaning, carrying, disposing of, or otherwise handling in any manner, human excreta in an insanitary latrine or in an open drain or pit into which the human excreta from the insanitary latrines is disposed of, or on a railway track or in such other spaces or premises, as the Central Government or a State Government may notify, before the excreta fully decomposes in such manner as may be prescribed, and the expression “manual scavenging” shall be construed accordingly”. The definition concerned has been further explained and the explanation reads out that if a person engaged or employed to clean excreta with the help of such devices and using such protective gear, as the Central Government may notify in this behalf, shall not be deemed to be a “manual scavenger”.

The question on insanitary latrine was dealt and it was differentiated with other methods. For instance, the court in para 12 had clarified that – “insanitary latrine” is defined in clause (e) of Section 2. It means a latrine which requires human excreta to be cleaned or otherwise handled manually, either in situ or in an open drain or a pit into which the excreta is discharged before the excreta fully decomposes in such manner as may be prescribed. However, a water flush latrine in railway coaches is cleaned by an employee with the help of a device and by wearing a protective device as may be notified by the Central Government shall not be deemed to be an insanitary latrine.[4]

The Act lays down two specific provisions to restrict and prohibit the construction of sanitary latrines and Section 4 to Section 5, when read together sums up the regulations coupled with prohibitions laid down by the Act itself. The court had summarised the importance of these two provisions:

Para 16: The effect of Sections 4 to 5 can be summarised as under:

(a) there is a complete prohibition on constructing insanitary latrines. All the insanitary latrines constructed after coming into force of the Manual Scavengers Act, have to be either demolished or converted into sanitary latrines by the occupier as defined in clause (j) of Section 2;

(b) there is a complete prohibition on engaging or employing, either directly or indirectly, a manual scavenger. If any person who has been so engaged prior to coming into force of the Act shall stand discharged immediately from any obligation, express or implied, to do manual scavenging; and

(c) if any occupier fails to demolish an insanitary latrine or convert it into a sanitary latrine within the period provided in sub-clause (b) of sub-section (1) of Section 4 (period not exceeding three years from the date of commencement of the Manual Scavengers Act), it is the duty of the local authority to either demolish or to convert the existing insanitary latrine into a sanitary latrine.

Implementation: A Reality Check

It is pertinent to note that court came down heavily on the authorities concerned as most of the provisions were not even notified, forget about implementation. For instance, under Sections 5 to 6, it is needed or expected that a survey is carried out and such insanitary latrines are demolished accordingly and record should be placed within the period concerned. The Manual Scavengers Act came into force on 6-12-2013 and clause (b) of sub-section (1) of Section 4 enjoins every local authority to give a notice to the occupier of an insanitary latrine within a period of 15 days from the date of publication of the list as per clause (a) of sub-section (1) of Section 4 to either demolish insanitary latrine or to convert such insanitary latrine into a sanitary latrine within a period of six months from the date of commencement of the Manual Scavengers Act. Hence, no positive outcome was tabled by the local authorities concerned and to the contrary, the court in Para 20 of the order,observed:

“There is nothing on record to indicate that these provisions have been implemented. Under sub-section (2) of Section 4, every local authority are under an obligation to construct adequate number of sanitary community latrines within a period of not exceeding three years from the date of commencement of the said Act, as the appropriate Government may, by a notification, specify so as to eliminate the practice of open defecation in their jurisdiction. In fact, the practice of open defecation must be stopped or eliminated immediately. It is an important step towards eradication of manual scavenging. But this cannot happen unless the local authorities construct adequate number of sanitary community latrines and maintain the same clean and hygienic. More importantly, all the authorities will have to sensitise the citizens about the ill effects of open defecation. A massive awareness campaign needs to be initiated for that purpose.” [5]

Rehabilitation: A Failed Reality

The main object of the 2013 Act was to rehabilitate the families and victims of manual scavenging. The Supreme Court in Safai Karamchari Andolan v. Union of India, while issuing certain directions to curb the practice had rightly noted that one of the main object is to rehabilitate the family members and it was observed that – “Identify the families of all persons who have died in sewerage work (manholes, septic tanks) since 1993 and award compensation of Rs 10 lakhs for each such death to the family members depending on them.”[6] Now, if we come to the practical side, then the implementation of the Act itself is a challenge, because rehabilitation would be on the table only when the “evil” of manual scavenging is set aside.

Section 13 of the Act rightly remarks that if any person or person(s) are identified and they are included in the final list, shall be rehabilitated. The provisions cover different benefits for such persons, like their children would be entitled to scholarships, a photo identity shall be issued, they shall be allotted a residential plot and financial assistance for house construction:

 (e) he, or at least one adult member of his family, shall be given, subject to eligibility and willingness, subsidy and concessional loan for taking up an alternative occupation on a sustainable basis, in such manner as may be stipulated in the relevant scheme of the Central Government or the State Government or the local authority concerned; and

 (f) he shall be provided such other legal and programmatic assistance, as the Central Government or State Government may notify in this behalf.

Now, let us come back to the practical approach and implementation of these provisions regarding rehabilitation. The court in this case had rightly observed that only those people are eligible for these benefits who are there in the final list, but the local authorities and State had failed to even comply one, and it was directed by the court that:

“Therefore, directions will have to be issued to the State Government to submit a report whether survey and identification of manual scavengers in the State has been conducted and whether final lists have been published. The State Government will have to also inform the court whether district-wise lists are made and whether consolidated State list has been prepared. Moreover, the State will have to place on record whether the District Level Survey Committees have been formed in all the districts and the State Level Survey Committee has been constituted. The State Government will have to point out the details of the number of meetings held of both the Committees.”

Hence, the court issued certain interim directions to curb the current happenings and non-compliance of the provisions of the Act. Some of the important directions can be categorised as:

(a) Low Convictions: The court observed that very low cases have been registered for violating the provisions of the Act concerned and the State was directed to place the details on number of first information reports, also the cases which finally resulted in convictions.

(b) Data and Surveys: It was directed by the court that State and the local authorities would place on record the data which has to be collected in pursuance of sub-clause (c) of Rule 2 of the Manual Scavengers Rules. Also, the data on final list has been collected or not by the authorities concerned.

(c) Demolition of Insanitary Latrines: The court directed the authorities to place the records concerned on demolition of insanitary latrines in pursuance of Section 4 and Section 5 of the Act. Also, it was directed that the State Government shall direct all the local authorities to comply with the obligations under sub-sections (2) and (3) of Section 4 and to immediately ascertain the requirement of number of sanitary community latrines within their respective jurisdictions and thereafter, make construction of such latrines. The data of such community sanitary latrines constructed in the State shall be placed on record.

(d) Rehabilitation: It was directed that the State Government shall place on record the steps taken for rehabilitation of manual scavengers as provided in Section 13 by stating whether there are any Schemes of Central and State Government for rehabilitation of the manual scavengers as contemplated by Section 13.

(e) Compliance of Safai Karamchari Judgment: The court directed that the State Government shall place on record all the details regarding the compliance with the directions contained in para 23.3 of the decision of the Supreme Court in Safai Karamchari Andolan[7].

Law graduate, Member of Indian Civil Liberties Union, e-mail:


[2] 2020 SCC OnLine Kar 2420

[3] All India Council of Trade Unions v. Union of India, 2020 SCC OnLine Kar 2420

[4] All India Council of Trade Unions v. Union of India 2020 SCC OnLine Kar 2420

[5] All India Council of Trade Unions v. Union of India. (Supra)

[6] (2014) 11 SCC 224

[7] (2014) 11 SCC 224

Op EdsOP. ED.

Nelson Mandela once remarked, “Only free men can negotiate; prisoners cannot enter into contracts.” Freedom is, universally, considered as one of the most cherished human rights. It is necessary not only for basic sustenance of an individual, rather, indispensable for the progress of a society as a whole. History has witnessed numerous struggles for independence across the world, aimed against apartheid, oppression and several other forms of exploitation. At the same time, there are several illustrations woven into the fabric of time where human endurance and mass movements occasioned into the extermination of several social/societal evils. However, despite the consciousness of the concepts of liberty and independence, unfortunately, even in the present century, a certain section of our society continues to endure a form of slavery and abuse in the form of manual scavenging. This practice which owes its genesis to India’s repressive caste system continues to thrive, notwithstanding almost seventy-three years of our independence. In fact, independence and freedom have continued to remain a mere illusion for the individuals subjected to this archaic, tyrannical and forced form of heroics. Regrettably, such individuals, who are prisoners of their caste, poverty and illiteracy are not in a position to negotiate for their freedom and better lives from those in power and their ‘so-called superiors.’ As per the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment’s Survey of Manual Scavengers in Statutory Towns there are approximately[1] 15,000 (fifteen thousand) manual scavengers in India, though, the actual number is estimated to be much higher. Unfortunately, due to lack of proper rehabilitative measures and societal apathy, the size of this group is ever increasing.

Indian judiciary has repeatedly emphasised on the importance of a dignified form of life. In fact, it is a settled law[2] that right to dignity is one of the essential elements of the right to life as provided under Article 21[3] of the Constitution of India (“the Constitution”). In this regard, the Supreme Court in Gian Kaur v. State of Punjab[4], observed,

“[t]o give meaning and content to the word ‘life’ in Article 21, it has been construed as life with human dignity. Any aspect of life which makes it dignified may be read into it but not that which extinguishes it and is, therefore, inconsistent with the continued existence of life resulting in effacing the right itself.”

The Constitution further, inter alia, prohibits any forms of forced labor and employment of children in factories or mine or any other hazardous employment under Articles 23 and 24, thereof.  These constitutional provisions are meant to strike at the core of several unfair practices, which are prevalent in India and in particular, to eradicate slavery in any of its forms. It is trite law[5] that the word “force”, under Article 23 of the Constitution includes not only physical or legal force, rather, also the force arising from the compulsion of economic circumstances. In fact, as per the Supreme Court in People’s Union for Democratic Rights v. Union of India[6],

“where a person provides labour or service to another for remuneration which is less than the minimum wage, the labour or service provided by him clearly falls within the scope and ambit of the words “forced labour” under Article 23.”

Unfortunately, despite these and several other constitutional safeguards, the practice of manual scavenging continues unabated across India. In fact, in an ever-enduring struggle against poverty and lack of free-will; in dingy and poorly lit dungeons, several lives are silently sacrificed and fed to quench the hunger of the ‘manual-scavenging dragon’.

Manual scavenging is generally understood[7] as a process of physical removal of human excreta from dry latrines and sewers. A person so engaged in or employed for manually carrying human excreta is termed as a manual scavenger under Section 2(j) of the Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, 1993[8] (“the 1993 Act”). Pertinently, under the 1993 Act it has been acknowledged that despite concerted efforts made to eliminate the dehumanising practice of employing persons for carrying human excreta on their heads or likewise, “the practice still persists in certain parts of the country”. Accordingly, the said Act was enacted, inter alia, with an object to prohibit “employment of manual scavengers as well as construction or continuance of dry latrines”.[9] Significantly, Section 3 of the 1993 Act empowers the State Government to issue notification prohibiting the engagement or employment of any person for manually carrying human excreta or for the construction or maintenance of a dry latrine. Further, Section 5 of the 1993 Act empowers the State Government(s) to appoint a District Magistrate or a Sub-Divisional Magistrate as an Executive Authority to ensure compliance of the provisions of the said enactment. The State Governments have been further empowered to make and notify, inter alia, one or more schemes for regulating conversion of dry latrines into, or construction and maintenance of, water-seal latrines, rehabilitation of the persons who were engaged in or employed for as manual scavengers, under Section 6 of the 1993 Act. Significantly, under Section 14 of the said enactment, failure to comply with or contravention of any of the provisions of the 1993 Act, or the rules or schemes made or orders or directions issued thereunder have been declared to be punishable[10] with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year or with fine, which may extend to two thousand rupees, or with both. In turn, the provisions relating to the nature of offences, jurisdiction and limitation of prosecution are provided under Sections 16, 17 and 18, respectively of the 1993 Act.

Subsequently, noting that the existing laws, “have not proved adequate in eliminating the twin evils of insanitary latrines and manual scavenging”, Parliament enacted the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 (“the 2013 Act”). The said Act, inter alia, aims towards the “prohibition of employment as manual scavengers, rehabilitation of manual scavengers and their families.” The 2013 Act provides for an exhaustive definition of manual scavenger, under Section 2(1)(g) thereof, as

“a person engaged or employed, at the commencement of this Act or at any time thereafter, by an individual or a local authority or an agency or a contractor, for manually cleaning, carrying, disposing of, or otherwise handling in any manner, human excreta in an insanitary latrine or in an open drain or pit into which the human excreta from the insanitary latrines is disposed of, or on a railway track or in such other spaces or premises, as the Central Government or a State Government may notify, before the excreta fully decomposes in such manner as may be prescribed.”

Significantly, persons engaged or employed to clean excreta with the help of such devices and using such protective gear, as the Central Government may notify in this behalf, are exempted from the definition of manual scavenger(s). Provisions regarding prohibition of insanitary latrines and employment and engagement of manual scavenger are provided under Section 5 of the 2013 Act. Section 5(2) thereof further obliges every occupier, at his own cost, to demolish or convert into sanitary latrine; every insanitary latrine existing on the date of commencement of this Act within the notified period[11]. As per Section 6 of the 2013 Act,

“[a]ny contract, agreement or other instrument entered into or executed before the date of commencement of this Act, engaging or employing a person for the purpose of manual scavenging shall, on the date of commencement of this Act, be terminated and such contract, agreement or other instrument shall be void and inoperative and no compensation shall be payable therefor.”

Further, Section 7 of the said enactment prohibits engagement or employment of any person for hazardous cleaning of sewers and septic tanks. Significantly, the contravention of the provisions under Sections 5 and 6 are punishable under Section 8 of the 2013 Act, “with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year or with fine which may extend to fifty thousand rupees or with both, and for any subsequent contravention with imprisonment which may extend to two years or with fine which may extend to one lakh rupees, or with both.”

Similarly, contravention of Section 7 of the 2013 Act is punishable in terms of Section 9[12] of the said enactment. Pertinently, as per Section 10 of the 2013 Act, all such offences are punishable only on a complaint, “made by a person in this behalf within three months from the date of the occurrence of the alleged commission of the offence.” Procedure of trial of such offences, in turn, is provided under Chapter VI (Sections 21 till 23) of the said enactment. Significantly, the offences under the 2013 Act are declared as cognizable and non-bailable under Section 22 thereof, which, in terms of Section 21 of the 2013 Act, may be tried summarily by the Executive Magistrate, duly empowered.

Chapter IV of the 2013 Act deals with the provisions relating to the identification of manual scavengers in urban and rural areas and for their rehabilitation. Provisions relating to the survey of manual scavengers in urban areas by Municipalities and application by an urban manual scavenger for identification are provided under Sections 11 and 12, respectively, of the 2013 Act. Section 13 of the said enactment, in turn, deals with a few of the measures which may be adopted for the rehabilitation of the manual scavengers. Significantly, such measures may, inter alia, include; issuance of photo-identity card and one-time cash assistance within one month of identification; allotment  a residential plot and financial assistance for house construction; issuance of training in livelihood skills, subsidy and concessional loan for taking up an alternative occupation on a sustainable basis, etc. Implementation and compliance[13] of the provisions of the said Act, including the supervision of the economic and social rehabilitation of manual scavengers may be carried out, inter alia, by the Vigilance Committee, State and Central Monitoring Committee, National Commission for Safai Karamcharis, etc., established in terms of the provisions of the 2013 Act. Pertinently, despite law in place, the practice of manual scavenging has not been eliminated completely, till date.

The judiciary has played a proactive role towards the eradication of manual scavenging practice in India and to ensure rehabilitation of the persons engaged in such tasks. As early as the year 2005, the Supreme Court[14], directed the Union and State Governments to file affidavits regarding the prevalence of manual scavenging in their respective departments or corporations. It was further directed to the said authorities that in case, “manual scavenging is still being resorted to, then that department or corporation to indicate with details what scheme it has for eliminating it and for rehabilitating the persons concerned and within what time-frame.” This order was subsequently[15] clarified to the effect that the “Secretary of Health; Secretary, Ministry of Social Welfare and Justice; Secretary, Ministry of Urban Development and the Department concerned which deals with manual scavenging shall file detailed affidavit after collecting information from the Municipality/corporation concerned or other local department where manual scavenging is carried on in any of the States/corporation/municipality/department.” However, the said directions were elucidated to be not applicable to banks, other public sector undertakings and financial institutions.

Subsequently, considering the material brought on record pursuant to the said directions, the Court[16] observed that “the practice of manual scavenging continues unabated. Dry latrines continue to exist notwithstanding the fact that the 1993 Act was in force for nearly two decades. States have acted in denial of the 1993 Act and the constitutional mandate to abolish untouchability.” Accordingly, the Supreme Court, while acknowledging the need for extermination of the problem of manual scavenging, directed all the State Governments and the Union Territories to fully implement the provisions of the 2013 Act and to “take appropriate action for non-implementation as well as violation of the provisions”.

In another instance, the Supreme Court[17] duly acknowledged that the State and its agencies/instrumentalities cannot absolve themselves of the responsibility to put in place effective mechanism for ensuring safety of the workers employed for maintaining and cleaning the sewage system. As per the Court, “no one would like to enter the manhole of sewage system for cleaning purposes, but there are people who are forced to undertake such hazardous jobs with the hope that at the end of the day they will be able to make some money and feed their family. They risk their lives for the comfort of others” Accordingly, the  Supreme Court, while observing that the human beings who are employed for doing the work in the sewers cannot be treated as mechanical robots, sought compliance from the State instrumentality, of previous directions of the  High Court of Delhi[18]. Pertinently, the High Court of Delhi vide its said order had directed, inter alia, for free medical examination and medical treatment to sewer workers; payment of compensation by State authorities to the family members of deceased sewage workers; placing on record by the said authorities of proposals and plans to phase out manual work and replace it with mechanised sewer cleaning; etc. Regrettably, even such directions have not proved adequate to uproot the weed of manual scavenging, till date.

Significantly, even under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, provisions for eradication of slavery, degrading human treatment, exploitation, etc. and promotion of equality, liberty, non-discrimination, etc., are provided. However, these provisions have not proved to be deterrent enough to exterminate the manual scavenging evil. The High Court of Delhi in Metro Waste Handling v. Delhi Jal Board[19], has observed,

“[u]nseen and forgotten for generations, our society has marginalised manual scavengers to its darkest corners. They are trapped in an eternal caste embrace, with no voice in the society or in any meaningful participation; their children are doomed to the same stereotypical roles assigned to them. The promise of equality, dignity and egalitarianism has eluded them altogether in the march and progress witnessed by the rest of our citizens.”

Regrettably, despite all the judicial directives and law in place, nothing substantial has changed in the years for these marginalised individuals. Irony is such that despite being involved in integral activities for the society, these individuals and their destinies are flushed down the drains without consideration or empathy. A society and the State like ours, which boasts of being a welfare State can no longer feign indifference towards these individuals; for the works that they do, is in no manner menial.

As Gandhi once remarked, “[t]he true measure of any society can be found in how it treats its most vulnerable members.” Therefore, time is ripe to acknowledge and work towards the emancipation towards such individuals. Further, complacency on mere eradication of few societal issues is not a solution where grave issues like manual scavenging persist even in the present century. In fact, it is incumbent to eradicate this social evil for once and for all in order to achieve the overall development of our country.

* Managing Associate, L&L Partners Law Offices

[1] (last accessed on 31.07.2020)

[2] National Legal Services Authority v. Union of India, (2014) 5 SCC 438

[3]“No person shall be deprived of his life or personal liberty except according to procedure established by law.”

[4] (1996) 2 SCC 648

[5] People’s Union for Democratic Rights v. Union of India, (1982) 3 SCC 235

[6] (1982) 3 SCC 235

[7]UN rights chief welcomes movement to eradicate manual scavenging in India -UN News – 31.01.2013 (

[8] As per Section 1(2) of the Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, 1993, the provisions of this enactment, “in the first instance to the whole of States of Andhra Pradesh, Goa, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tripura and West Bengal and to all the Union Territories and it shall also apply to such other State which adopts this Act by resolution passed in that behalf under clause (1) of Article 252 of the Constitution”     

[9] Section 2(c) of the Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, 1993 ‘“dry latrine” means a latrine other than a water-seal latrine;” and Section 2(i) of Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, 1993 “latrine” means a place set apart for defecation together with the structure comprising such place, the receptacle therein for collection of human excreta and the fittings and apparatus, if any, connected therewith;

[10] With an enhanced punishment for continued contravention i.e. “an additional fine which may extend to one hundred rupees for every day during which such failure or contravention continues after the conviction for the first such failure or contravention.” (Section 14 of Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, 1993)

[11] Section 4(1)(b) of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013

[12]“Whoever contravenes the provisions of Section 7 shall for the first contravention be punishable with imprisonment for a term which may extend to two years or with fine which may extend to two lakh rupees or with both, and for any subsequent contravention with imprisonment which may extend to five years or with fine which may extend to five lakh rupees, or with both.”

[13] Chapter VII of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013

[14] Safai Karamchari Andolan v. Union of India, (2011) 15 SCC 611; order dated 29.04.2005.

[15] Safai Karamchari Andolan v. Union of India, (2011) 15 SCC 609; dated 14.11.2005.

[16] Safai Karamchari Andolan v. Union of India, (2014) 11 SCC 224; dated 27.03.2014

[17] Delhi Jal Board v. National Campaign for Dignity & Rights of Sewerage & Allied Workers, (2011) 8 SCC 568

[18] National Campaign for Dignity & Rights of Sewerage & Allied Workers v. MCD,  2008 SCC OnLine Del 948

[19] 2018 SCC OnLine Del 9319 

Op EdsOP. ED.

There still exists a rampant practice of manual scavenging in India although on paper, the practice has been banned by the legislature at the Central level[1]. Although the Constitution of India banned the practice of “untouchability” as early as in 1950s[2], the legislature, the political parties and the general public including “us” have failed massively in this direction.

The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013[3] (hereinafter referred to as “the Act”) on the face of it appears to prohibit the employment of manual scavengers, but ironically regulates the same. The definition of the term “manual scavenger” provided in the Act which excludes such persons who have been made available the required protective gear and tools/equipment for cleaning human excreta[4]. Also, if the cleaning of a septic tank/ sewer is done by an employee with the employer making available safety equipment, the same shall not qualify under the definition of “hazardous cleaning” as provided under the Act.[5] Hence, if required equipment is made available then the activity of cleaning human excreta or sewers is not banned by the Act. However, in practice, either the equipment so provided to the employees is of such low quality that the same cannot be used as a protective gear or the equipment are not provided at all. Also, the definition of “manual scavengers” as provided in the Act is a dead letter as it does not cover wastes such as menstrual waste, corpses, hazardous medical waste, etc. The manner in which the Act has been interpreted by the judiciary and the Governments in the past has clearly overlooked the ground realities of the lack of enforcement mechanisms of the same and the gaps in the law itself being an antithesis to the “welfare state theory” and the overarching aim of the Swachh Bharat Mission.[6]

One of the heavily neglected issues in this respect is the “genderisation in the field of manual scavenging and why does the existing legislation fail in protecting them?”. The Report on the “Status of Women in India”[7] submitted by the High Level Committee in 2015 constituted by the Ministry of Women and Child Development, showcases that women face overlapping forms of discrimination as there is intersectionality of various factors including caste, creed, religion and because patriarchy and gender-based discrimination cut across all these factors.

The Act was preceded by the Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition Act), 1993[8] which succinctly outlines the fact that the Act was passed to address the issues which remained unresolved during the life of the earlier legislation. However, even the present Act has massively failed to address the pressing socio-legal concerns of the community of manual scavengers more specifically of the “female manual scavengers”. When a social and legal issue is not addressed in its entirety, we often believe that the reason for the same is lack of enforcement mechanisms.

The Act nowhere provides separate set of rules and regulations for both men and women in an unorganised sector where labour is involved. This argument can be substantiated with the concept of “inside and outside” which postulates that the knowledge of law comes from the category which is inside the law and hence the people who are outside the law are not able to fit their experiences and understanding inside such law[9]. For example, the Penal Code, 1860[10] does not cover within its ambit all the possibilities of rape of a transgender person[11] and hence protection of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (LGBTQ) community against rape has not been considered as a possible discourse therein.

Terri Elliot[12] refers to a “flight of stairs” leading to a doorway to understand the various discourses of understanding law. The said “flight of steps” could be an opportunity for a person to gain access; however, the same flight of stairs could also be a hindrance for a person in a wheel chair. It basically refers to “the view from below” of a piece of legislation as only a person who is at the bottom of the hierarchy can see the oppressions and not a person who has some epistemic privilege.

The Report of Rashtriya Garima Abhiyan on the “Rehabilitation of the Manual Scavengers and their Children in India, 2012” states that 95-98% of the total population of the manual scavengers in the country are women[13], and considering the same, we can identify that the Act fails to acknowledge the existence of a group which needs special social and legal attention.

Female manual scavengers suffer a double whammy in this context as the discrimination they face is furthered by “gender”. Female manual scavengers receive lower wages as compared to their male counterparts; they are often faced with a situation when a contractor or such person who is in a fiduciary capacity demands sexual favors from them, the safety concerns while working during wee hours, etc. The sector of manual scavengers is a heavily unregulated and unorganised sector and the gravity of this non-regulation increases manifold with respect to female manual scavengers.

The Constitution of India does not expressly mention “equal pay for equal work” as one of the fundamental rights, but has read the same into it through interpretation of various articles including Articles 14, 15, 16, 39(a), 39(d), 42 and 51-A(e). [14] [15] [16]  

There are various legislations which do recognise females as a separate group and provide specific rules for them like the Equal Remuneration Act, 1976[17]; the Minimum Wages Act, 1948[18]; the Factories Act, 1948[19]; the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970[20] and the Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Central Rules, 1971[21]. But, law on manual scavenging nowhere prescribes rules for regulating the work conditions of female manual scavengers considering their specific requirements which are specific to their sex. It is pertinent to note that women employees are vulnerable to various additional factors like safety concerns, biological hygiene, sexual harassment at workplace, etc. The Act fails in its implementation as it does not have a provision for regulating the quality of work given to women employees owing to their bodily orientation. Also, the Act does not make an effort for taking care of the medical expenses incurred by a female employee considering they are often required to undergo uterus removal due to the heavy labour involved.

The legislature while making laws needs to understand an issue from a holistic sense which should comprise of the existing social, legal, economic and political conditions of the society. Further efforts and research are needed in this field to accommodate the specific issues faced by “female manual scavengers” due to intersectionality of various forms of discrimination and set the groundwork for legal amendments, reforms and policy level changes. This is because the abovementioned labour legislations, due to their applicability in specific sectors,  cannot be applied to the community of manual scavengers. Separate set of rules are needed for “female manual scavengers” dealing with pay scale, hygiene, separate latrines and urinals, a system to deal with harassment issues, the quality of work to be given to female employees on the basis of their bodily orientation, etc.

*BA LLB (Hons.) from National University of Study & Research in Law, Ranchi, Jharkhand, India. Author has worked with Legal Department of Housing Development Finance Corporation Limited, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India for 4 years. Presently, she is pursuing integrated LLM PhD from NALSAR University of Law, Hyderabad.

[1] Refer “Kakkoos” a documentary by Divya Bharati which basically means “toilet”, highlights the same with reference to the State of Tamil Nadu and describes  socio-legal issue of invisibilisation, marginalisation and stigmatisation of the community of “manual scavengers” from the mainstream society by way of structural violence guided by “caste” at its base. Divya Bharati is facing threat to life, threat of getting raped, etc.  after making of the text and this is a living example of the fact that “females” in this era need to be protected from gender-based discriminations furthered by “patriarchy”.

[2] Constitution of India, Article 17

[3] Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013, No. 25, Acts of Parliament, 2013 (India). 

[4] Ibid, see Section  2(g).  

[5] Ibid see Section 2(d).  

[6] Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Government of India, “Guidelines for Swachch Bharat Mission- Urban”, August 2017. Available at:

[7] Ministry of Child and Development, Government of India, “Executive Summary: Report on the Status of Women in India”, High Level Committee on the Status on Women, 2015. Available at:

[8] Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, 1993, No. 46, Acts of Parliament, 1993 (India). 

[9] Margaret Davies, Asking The Law Question, 16, (4th Edn., Thomson Reuters Professional Australia Limited, Sydney) (2017). 

[10] Penal Code, 1860, No. 45, Acts of Parliament, 1860 (India).

[11] Ibid. See Section 375

[12] Terri Elliott, “Making Strange What Had Appeared Familiar”, The Monist 77:4 (1994), pp. 424-433.

[13] “Uncompleted and unsuccessful rehabilitation of manual scavengers and their children in India: Brief Report on National Public Hearing on Rehabilitation of Manual Scavengers and their Children in India”; Rashtriya Garima Abhiyan, National Campaign for Dignity and Eradication of Manual Scavenging, (2012), New Delhi. Available at:

[14] See Articles 14, 15, 16, 39(a), 39(d), 42 and 51-A(e)

[15] Randhir Singh v. Union of India, (1982) 1 SCC 618 

[16] State of Punjab  v. Jagjit Singh, (2017)1 SCC 148

[17] Section 4, The Equal Remuneration Act, 1948, No. 25, Acts of Parliament, 1976 (India).

[18] Section 20, The Minimum Wages Act, 1948, No. 11, Acts of Parliament, 1948 (India)

[19] Section 22, The Factories Act, 1948, No. 63, Acts of Parliament, 1948 (India)

[20] Section 35, Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Act, 1970, No. 37, Acts of Parliament, 1970 (India)

[21] Rules 25, 41, 44 & 53, The Contract Labour (Regulation and Abolition) Central Rules, 1971

Image Credits: Economic and Political Weekly