The Supreme Court on Wednesday directed Centre to place on record steps it has taken to prevent manual scavenging in accordance to the law, reported Live Law.

Manual scavenging – or the practice of removing human excreta by hand from sewer lines or septic tanks – is banned under the Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013. But the practice remains prevalent in many parts of India.

On August 2, the Centre had told the Lok Sabha that there were no reports of anyone in the country being engaged in manual scavenging. However, it said that 330 persons died in accidents while cleaning sewers and septic tanks between 2017 and 2021.

On Wednesday, the court directed to government to place on record steps taken to remove dry latrines and their status in Cantonment Boards and Railways. The court also sought information on whether safai karamcharies, or sanitation workers, were directly or indirectly employed as well as the statewise data on equipment used by civic bodies to mechanise sewage cleaning.

Meanwhile, the court has appointed Advocate K Parameshwar Amicus Curiae in the matter.

The Union Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment has been asked to place on record an affidavit containing this information within six weeks, reported Bar and Bench. The court will now take up the matter on April 12.