National Commission for Safai Karamcharis

The National Commission for Safai Karamcharis is currently a non-statutory body of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment. Earlier it was a statutory body which was established by ‘National Commission for Safai Karamcharis Act 1993’ on 12th August 1994. Originally, it was constituted for three years, i.e. from 1994 to 1997; however, it continued as a statutory body till 2004. The act lapsed in 2004, following which the commission is continuing as a non-statutory body.

This article is important considering the UPSC syllabus of Prelims and Mains GS-I (Social Justice) GS-II (Indian Polity).

National Commission for Safai Karamcharis – Why in news?

  1. The tenure of the NCSK has been extended again for three years from 2019. The current tenure of the commission is from 1st April 2019 to 31st March 2022.
  2. In its latest report, NCSK in a reply to RTI enquiry has informed that around 631 people have died while cleaning sewers and septic tanks in the last 10 years.

Facts about National Commission for Safai Karamcharis for UPSC Prelims

There are some important facts that an IAS Exam aspirant must remember about the commission:

  1. It was launched as a statutory body; however, it has continued as a non-statutory body since 2004.
  2. It was formed under the act called ‘National Commission for Safai Karamchari Act 1994.’
  3. The NCSK Act 1994 lapsed in 2004.
  4. The term of the NCSK was extended for the first time in 1997.
  5. Definition of Safai Karamchari – “Safai Karamchari means a person engaged in, or employed for any sanitation work and includes his/her dependants.”

Read about types of constitutional bodies in India in the linked article.

Functions of National Commission for Safai Karamcharis

The National Commission for Safai Karamcharis has a power to call for information concerning any matter w.r.t its functions from central government or any other authority. The NCSK performs the following functions:

  1. It recommends specific programs of actions to the central government that aim to eliminate inequalities faced by the safai karamcharis w.r.t status, facilities and opportunities.
  2. It studies and evaluates the implementation of such programmes and schemes that are launched for the social and economic rehabilitation of safai karamcharis especially scavengers.
  3. It takes up matters to the concerned authorities and/or state governments and central government for:
    • Non-implementation of programmes and schemes for any group of safai karamcharis.
    • Non-implementation of any such decisions that aim to mitigate the hardships of safai karamcharis.
    • Non-implementations of those measures which aim to socially and economically uplift the safai karamcharis.
    • Non-implementation of any provision regarding a law applied to safai karamcharis.
  4. It studies and monitors the working conditions of the safai karamcharis employed under various employers including:
    • Government
    • Municipalities
    • Panchayats, etc.
  5. It prepares reports w.r.t the matters concerning safai karamcharis and present it to state and central governments.
  6. It monitors the functioning of ‘The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and Their Rehabilitation Act, 2013.’
  7. Under the Manual Scavengers Act 2013; it also enquires into complaints received for the contravention of any provision related to the act, and brings it to the concerned authority.
  8. It takes suo-moto notice of all such matters that are in relation to the non-implementation of the provisions of Manual Scavengers Act 2013.
What is the Manual Scavengers Act 2013?

  1. It is an act that bans manual scavenging.
  2. It widened the definition of manual scavenging with the inclusion of all forms of manual removal of human excreta.
  3. It aims to rehabilitate manual scavengers.
  4. The offence of manual scavenging is cognizable and non-bailable.
  5. The employers compulsorily have to provide protective tools to the sanitation workers.

Read about central government, state government and Panchayats from the links mentioned in the table below:

Members of the National Commission for Safai Karamcharis

The organizational structure of the commission is as follows:

  1. Chairperson
  2. Vice-Chairperson
  3. 5 members

Currently, the posts mentioned above are vacant, and the following posts are active:

  1. Secretary – Narain Das
  2. Deputy Directory (R&D) – Anil Kumar Jha
  3. Under Secretary (Administration) – Jatender Singh
  4. Assistant Director (R&D) – Yasmin Sultana
  5. Section Officer (Administration) – Prem Prakash

Prepare UPSC GS 1 and GS 2 from the links provided below:

What is the National Safai Karamcharis Finance and Development Corporation?

It is a not-for-profit company that was set up on 24th January 1997 and is now placed under section 8 of Companies Act 2013. It works under the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and is a wholly-owned Indian Government Undertaking.

The primary objective of this corporation is to uplift the Safai Karamcharis, Scavengers and their dependents socially and economically.

Definition of Manual Scavengers – As per the Government, the manual scavenger is defined as:

“A person engaged or employed by an individual or a local authority or an agency or a contractor, for manually cleaning, carrying, disposing of, or otherwise handling in any manner, human excreta in an insanitary latrine or in an open drain or pit into which the human excreta from the insanitary latrines is disposed of, or on railway track or in such other spaces or premises, as the Central Government or a State Government may notify before the excreta fully decomposes in such a manner as may be prescribed, and the expression “Manual Scavenging” shall be construed accordingly –

  • “engaged or employed’’ means being engaged or employed on a regular or contract basis
  • a person engaged or employed to clean excreta with the help of such devices and using such protective gear, as the Central Government may notify in this behalf, shall not be deemed to be a ‘manual scavenger.”

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