Manual Scavenging

  • Neha Mishra
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  • Neha Mishra

    Assistant Professor at Amity University, Haryana, India

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Supreme Court has time and again reiterated that the right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution encompasses life with human dignity and liberty but the entire idea of society vitiates when a certain class of people based solely on caste are forced to accept menial degrading work to ensure their mere survival. Manual scavengers, the most neglected and harassed class, are the ones who are engaged in manually removing, carrying and handling night soil from dry latrines, sewers, septic tanks and pits. Manual scavenging from its emergence to its continuance has an obnoxious link with the existing caste system in India. Scavengers are treated as untouchables, have extremely limited livelihood options, live in acute poverty in segregated communities with a low level of literacy. Despite several legislations, policies and schemes in place, manual scavenging is still prevalent on a large scale. This paper deals with the issue of manual scavenging in India and analyses the legal framework and various judgments of the High Court and Supreme Court and attempts to understand why existing laws and policies fail to protect the scavengers. The paper further examines the challenges faced by scavenger communities and finally concludes by suggesting measures to eliminate the shameful practice.


Research Paper


International Journal of Law Management and Humanities, Volume 5, Issue 3, Page 2031 - 2038


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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution -NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) (, which permits remixing, adapting, and building upon the work for non-commercial use, provided the original work is properly cited.


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