Gujarat HC questions government over non-payment of compensation to 16 dead workers

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Gujarat HC questions government over non-payment of compensation to 16 dead workers

| Updated: January 4, 2024 17:50

The Gujarat High Court has questioned the State government over the non-payment of compensation to the relatives of 16 sanitation workers who lost their lives during manual scavenging between 1993 and 2014. The Gujarat High Court asked the government to explain in an affidavit.

The court heard a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) by Ahmedabad-based NGO Manav Garima, seeking implementation of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013, a news agency reported.

The court of Chief Justice Sunita Agarwal and Justice Aniruddha P Mayee asked the State about measures initiated to adopt the 2013 anti-manual scavenging law and whether the government was ready to stop the practice.

When the petitioner’s lawyer told the court that the members of the family of the 16 deceased manual scavengers hadn’t received compensation as per the Supreme Court guidelines, the court rebuked the government, saying the latter could not go on making payments to some while ignoring others.

The agency added that the bench directed the principal secretary of the urban development and urban housing department to file his affidavit to record the reasons for non-payment of compensation to the families of the 16 workers.

“This is not hide and seek; let us be clear about this. If the list (of victims) was there, you have to give at least this much explanation as to why you have not paid them. Reason has to be there,” the Chief Justice observed.

“What steps have you taken to adopt the zero manual scavenging policy? Have you got the requisite machines? Are you in a position to do away with manual scavenging, or are you still taking the help of these people? We want a clear answer,” she was quoted as saying.

In 2016, the High Court directed the government to pay Rs 10 lakh compensation to the families of each of the deceased hole workers on the PIL by the NGO. The Supreme Court in October 2023 raised the compensation amount to Rs 30 lakh in cases of deaths and disabilities owing to manual scavenging.

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