New Delhi: A total of 631 people have died in the country while cleaning sewers and septic tanks in the last 10 years, the National Commission for Safai Karamcharis (NCSK) said.
The figure was provided by the NCSK in response to an RTI query on the number of deaths reported while cleaning sewers and septic tanks from 2010 to March 2020.
- According to the data, 631 such fatalities were reported during the period.
- The highest number of deaths were reported in 2019 at 115.
- Among states, Tamil Nadu reported the highest number of such deaths in total in the 10-year period at 122 followed by Uttar Pradesh at 85, Delhi and Karnataka each reported 63 deaths and Gujarat reported 61 deaths.
- In Haryana, 50 fatalities have been reported in the last 10 years. In 2020, two people died while cleaning sewers and septic tanks till March 31. In 2018, 73 such deaths were reported while in 2017 as many as 93 people died while cleaning sewers, the data showed.
In 2016, 55 people died while cleaning sewers and septic tanks, 62 in 2015, 52 in 2014, 68 in 2013, 47 in 2012, 37 in 2011 and 27 in 2010, it said.
The NCSK said the data is based on the information received by it from various sources and actual information may vary.
“Further, this is a dynamic data which keeps changing as it is updated as and when information is received by the commission from any source,” it said in the RTI response.
An official said sanitation is a state subject and the NCSK maintains the data it receives from states and UTs.
Activists, however, said that such deaths continue to happen because of poor implementation of the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act.
Bezwada Wilson, national convener of Safai Karmachari Andolan, an organisation working to eradicate manual scavenging, said the poor implementation of the law has left the sanitation workers in a lurch.
“A single person has not been punished under the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act since its enactment. An Act should not be a false promise like an election manifesto, an Act should be what we should implement in an unequal society,” the Magsaysay award winning activist said.
Sanjeev Kumar, secretary of Dalit Adivasi Shakti Adhikar Manch (DASAM) agreed with Wilson that strict implementation of the act is the biggest issue.
“A person entering inside a sewer or septic tank must be completely banned and machinery must be brought in place instead. We have such cases too where sewer workers are struggling to survive after inhaling the toxic gases inside and they are not able to regain strength. The people who survive live with a lot of pain,” he said.
Kumar said in many cases, they don’t have any proper training or equipment.
“No one is taking seriously effective implementation of the Act. There is lack of awareness that making a person entering sewer or septic tank is a crime and for that the law has to be implemented strongly,” he said.
Akhila Sivadas, the managing trustee and executive director of the Centre for Advocacy and Research (CFAR) – a non-profit organisation, said firstly there is a need to recognise the magnitude of the problem and through the National Urban and Rural Livelihood Mission, pursue the issue with determination.
While collaborating with unions and associations of safai karamcharis, take forward aggressively alternate means of livelihood and modernise and regulate fecal sludge and septage management to utmost safety of sanitation workers, she said.
“The government needs to walk the talk. As long as there is poor implementation of the law prohibiting manual scavenging no one will have any faith in the ability of the system to liberate them from the worst form of bondage and servitude,” Sivadas added.
According to data presented by the Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry in February in Parliament, there are about 63,246 identified manual scavengers across the country in 17 states and about 35,308 have been identified from Uttar Pradesh alone.
Parliament had enacted the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 which came in force from December 6, 2013.
The Act makes it clear that cleaning of sewers or septic tanks without protective gear amounts to hazardous cleaning and attracts penal consequences.
In the ongoing Parliament session, the government is likely to bring Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation (Amendment) Bill, 2020 that makes the law banning manual scavenging more stringent by increasing the imprisonment term and the fine amount.
Courtesy : Telangana Today
Human dignity stands for the simple and undeniable proposition that all human beings have inherent equal worth. This means that each person’s life is equally valuable, that each person is equally entitled to live a life of dignity, to have agency over their own life choices, and to be able to live in social and political communities with others.
The United Nations Charter identified human dignity as “the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world” and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights incorporated this language in finding that all members of the human family are “born equal in dignity and rights.” This language is radical, and has potentially revolutionary implications. First, by positioning human dignity as the foundation and the purpose of the human rights enterprise, it recognizes the centrality of human flourishing as the touchstone of rule of law and the best protection against warfare and violence. Second, by extending human worth to all persons equally, it rejected millennia of hierarchy and supremacy, thus annihilating the justification for oppression or discrimination based on gender, race, or any other human-made classification. Third, it affirms that dignity is an inherent quality, that does not wait for any government or organization to recognize it, and therefore permits nothing to deny or diminish it. And, fourth, by deriving from the recognition of human dignity an obligation to treat one another in a spirit of siblinghood, it associates dignity with universal human rights, for present and future generations. In succeeding sections, the UDHR identified the rights that flow from the recognition of human dignity.
These rights would be elaborated on and extended in scores of instruments of international and regional human rights law, in the constitutions of more than 160 nations, and in countless laws and regulations. Every constitution adopted since 2003 has included at least one reference to human dignity and in many modern constitutions, it appears more than 5 or 10 times. In countries as diverse as India, Israel, and South Africa, it is a foundational value; in Germany and Colombia and Pakistan, it is an actionable right; in Canada it is an interpretive factor; in Kenya, it is the very purpose of protecting human rights, and in Peru it is the very purpose of the state. In other places, such as the United States and in Europe, it has been inferred from other provisions, including the rights to equal protection, due process, and family life and privacy. To support the conclusion that dignity is an inherent part of the fabric of law, the American Bar Association in 2019 adopted a resolution affirming that dignity rights are the foundation of a “just rule of law.”
Given the widespread recognition of dignity as foundational to law, it is not surprising that it has also been instrumental in thousands of juridical decisions from international and regional tribunals and from domestic courts on every continent.
Because of these provisions, and of the global movement to appreciate the fundamental role that recognition of dignity plays in the application of human rights, more and more cases are being brought before courts around the world demanding the protection of human dignity. And jurists are increasingly embracing the opportunity to give meaning to dignity, even in cases where it is not absolutely needed for the resolution of the case; that is, they are choosing to address the human dignity dimensions of the claims.
Notable examples include: Argentina, where dignity is the foundation for freedom of speech and right of association; South Africa, where civic dignity protects voting rights and other rights associated with the political process; Israel, where it is a “mother right” whose “daughters” include the right of family unity as well as the right of prisoners to be treated humanely, among many other rights; Colombia, where dignity is a measure of the state’s obligation to provide health care; Germany, where the level of pension benefits must allow a person to live in dignity; Nigeria, where the right to live with dignity includes the right to a clean and stable environment; Pakistan, where the concept of dignity includes climate and water justice; and India, where dignity guarantees the right to travel.
These cases reveal that human dignity – while an intrinsic and universal human quality – is also a right that governments are bound to respect and that courts are bound to enforce. They show that dignity is a concept that has a defined meaning in law to strengthen democratic institutions while empowering individuals to demarcate the limits of governmental power and expand their own liberty. Courts have used dignity to elucidate when rights are violated and to remedy personal harms. Recognizing dignity does not mean that plaintiffs always win, of course; yet it draws attention to the what is at stake in these cases, provides a framework for addressing competing values, and ultimately improves the prospects of achieving justice.
 United Nations Charter, Preamble; Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Preamble and Article 1..
 See e.g. ICCPR, and ICESCR Preambles; Convention on the Rights of the Child; UNDRIP; The Stockholm Declaration (1972) asserted that “Man has the fundamental right to freedom, equality and adequate conditions of life, in an environment of a quality that permits a life of dignity and well-being.” http://www.un-documents.net/unchedec.htm; The Sustainable Development Goals (2015) “envisage a world of universal respect for human rights and human dignity,” recognize “that the dignity of the human person is fundamental,” and establishes a goal to “ensure that all human beings can fulfil their potential in dignity and equality and in a healthy environment.” https://sustainabledevelopment.un.org/?menu=1300.
 Asociación Lucha por la Identidad Travesti-Transexual v. Inspección General de Justicia, Argentina Supreme Court of Justice (21 November 2006).
 August and Another v Electoral Commission and Others (CCT8/99)  ZACC 3; 1999 (3) SA 1; 1999 (4) BCLR 363 (1 April 1999).
 Golan v. Prison Services (1996) IsrSC 50 (4) 136; Gal-On v. Attorney General, HCJ 466/07 (2012).
 Sentencia T-292/09 (Constitutional Court of Colombia).
 BVerfG, Judgment of the First Senate of 09 February 2010 – 1 BvL 1/09 – paras. (1-220),
 Nigeria: Gbemre v. Shell Petroleum Development Company Nigeria Limited and Others (2005) AHRLR 151 (NgHC 2005).
 Ashgar Leghari v. Federation of Pakistan (Lahore High Court, Pakistan, 2018).
 Maneka Ghandi v. Union of India (1978) 2 SCR 621.
Source by DRI
The Charter of the United Nations; the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; the Convention on the Rights of the Child; the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples; the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women; the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals; the Stockholm Declaration of the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment; the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly, and Regular Migration; Human Rights Committee General Comment 36; and the Constitutions of more than 160 nations on earth, and thousands of court cases from all regions and all legal traditions,
Reaffirming the principle of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that “recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,”
Reaffirming the principle of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that “the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,”
Reaffirming the principle of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”
Recalling that “dignity rights” represents “the principle that human dignity is fundamental to all areas of law and policy,” as expressed by the American Bar Association,
Desiring that governments around the world ensure that dignity rights are “reflected in the exercise of their legislative, executive, and judicial functions,” as expressed by the American Bar Association,
Calling on governments and private actors to respect and protect human dignity as much in times of crisis as not, whether the crisis is temporary or longstanding.
We affirm the following principles:
- Every person everywhere has inherent, inalienable, and equal worth.
- Human dignity matters for every person everywhere.
- Human dignity represents the worth of every person. Every person’s life has value and every person should have agency over their own life.
- Human dignity is shared in equal measure by every person; no one has more or less dignity than any other person.
- Human dignity is inherent: all human beings are born in dignity and it can not be lost or withdrawn nor diminished nor violated
- Human dignity is universal: it is enjoyed by every person, everywhere, in past, present, and future generations.
- Every person has the obligation to protect the dignity of every person.
- Every person has the obligation to treat every other person as an equal member of the human family.
- Every person has the obligation to respect every other person’s agency and desire to manage their own life.
III. The rights that flow from the recognition of human dignity include:
- The right to non-discrimination so that every person is treated as a person, “without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.”
- The right to bodily integrity under all circumstances
- The right to education to enable each person to fully develop their personality;
- The right to health, shelter, adequate nutrition, and clean water, and basic income to enable each person to live with dignity in society with others;
- The right to one’s language and culture;
- The right to vote so that political self-determination is assured;
- The right to freedom of expression so that the decision as to what views shall be voiced rests in the hands of each of us;
- The right to free association so that opinions and views can be freely shared;
- The right of privacy and to control over one’s identity
- The right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment and to a stable climate for present and future generations.
- Governments throughout the world must ensure that the recognition of human dignity and the rights that flow from it are reflected in all of their laws, programs, and policies for the present generations and for generations yet to come.
Source By DRI