The National Commission for Safai Karamcharis (NCSK) was constituted on 12th August, 1994 as a statutory body by an Act of Parliament viz. ‘National Commission for Safai Karamcharis Act, 1993’, for a period of three years i.e. up to 31st March, 1997. As per sub-section (4) of Section 1 of the Act, it was to cease to exist after 31.3.1997. However, validity of the Act was extended up to March, 2002, and then up to February, 2004 vide Amendment Acts passed in 1997 and 2001 respectively.
With the lapsing of the “The National Commission for Safai Karamcharis Act, 1993” w.e.f. 29.2.2004, the Commission is acting as a Non-Statutory body of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment.The Commission’s tenure is extended from time to time through Government Resolutions as per details given below:
|Date of Govt. Resolution||Period for which term of non-statutory NCSK extended|
|09.09.2004||01.09.2004 to 31.12.2007|
|28.12.2007||01.01.2008 to 31.03.2009|
|02.03.2009||01.04.2009 to 31.3.2010|
|30.03.2010||01.04.2010 to 31.03.2013|
|06.03.2013||01.4.2013 to 31.03.2016|
|31.03.2016||01.04.2016 to 31.03.2019|
|10.03.2019||01.04.2019 to 31.03.2022|
|03.02.2022||01.04.2022 to 31.03.2025|
The mandate of the National Commission for Safai Karamcharis as laid down in the resolution dated 06.03.2013 read with resolution dated 02.03.2009, is as follows:
- Recommend to the Central Government specific programmes of action towards elimination of inequalities in status, facilities and opportunities for Safai Karamcharis.
- Study and evaluate the implementation of the programmes and schemes relating to the social and economic rehabilitation of Safai Karamcharis; and scavengers, in particular.
- Investigate specific grievances and take suo-motu notice of matters relating to non-implementation of: -
- programmes or schemes in respect of any group of Safai Karamcharis
- decisions, guidelines or instructions, aimed at mitigating the hardships of Safai Karamcharis
- measures for the social and economic upliftment of Safai Karamcharis
- the provisions of any law in its application to Safai Karamcharis; and take up such matters with the concerned authorities or with the Central or State Governments
- To study and monitor the working conditions, including those relating to health, safety and wages of Safai Karamcharis working under various kinds of employers including Government, Municipalities and Panchayats, and to make recommendations in this regard.
- Make reports to the Central or State Governments on any matter concerning Safai Karamcharis, taking into account any difficulties or disabilities being encountered by Safai Karamcharis
- Any other matter which may be referred to it by the Central Government.
However, with the enactment of “The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and Their Rehabilitation Act, 2013”, the mandate and scope of the Commission has also been enlarged. As per Section 31(1) of the said Act, the Commission shall perform the following functions, namely:-
- To monitor the implementation of the Act.
- To enquire into complaints regarding contravention of the provisions of the Act, and to convey its findings to the concerned authorities with recommendations requiring further action.
- To advise the Central and the State Governments for effective implementation of the provisions of the Act.
- To take suo motu notice of matter relating to non-implementation of the Act.
In the discharge of its functions, the Commission have the powers to call for information with respect to any matter specified above from any Government or local or other authority.
The Commission also monitors the implementation of Supreme Court Judgement dated 27.03.2014 in Writ Petition(Civil) No.583 of 2003 in Safai Karamchari Andolan & ors Vs. Union of India. The Supreme Court, in the above Writ Petition has, inter-alia, directed as under:-
“Identify the families of all persons who have died in sewerage work (manholes, septic tanks) since 1993 and award compensation of Rs. 10.00 lakhs for each such death to the family members depending on them”.
The National Commission for Safai Karamcharis comprises one Chairman (in the rank and status of the Union Minister of State) and four members, including a lady member (in the rank and status of the Secretary to the Government of India) and the Secretary (in the rank of Joint Secretary to the Govt. of India) along with other supporting staff.
WORKING OF THE COMMISSION
The Chairperson and Members of the Commission undertake extensive touring of the country to study the socio-economic and living conditions of Safai Karamcharis and their dependents. During their visits, the members of the Commission interact with the Safai Karamcharis- both individually as well as through their representative associations. The grievances of the Safai Karamcharis are then taken up by the Commission with the concerned local civil and police authorities.
The Commission also receives complaints/petitions from Safai Karamcharis from all over the Country. The Commission calls for the factual reports in connection with these complaints/petitions from the concerned authorities and impress upon them to redress the grievances of the affected Safai Karamcharis.
Based on the information received through print or electronic media, the Commission suo motu takes cognizance of problems of Safai Karamcharis and try to resolve them by playing a pro active role.
Whenever a matter is to be investigated or inquired into or progress of any scheme, programme etc. has to be evaluated or non-implementation of any decision, guidelines, instructions, measures or provisions of any law in relation to Safai Karamcharis etc. has to be looked into, the Commission holds sittings, as often as may be necessary, in any part of the country, for the purpose.
The Commission also reviews various problems of Safai Karamcharis, status of payment of compensation to the legal heirs of sewer death victims, through number of meeting/VCs with State/Local authorities.
Based on its findings, the Commission gives its recommendations for rehabilitation and liberation of Safai Karamcharis from the scourge of manual scavenging to the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment from time to time as well as in its Annual Reports.