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The apex court on Wednesday slammed Centre and state governments for not supplying protective gear to manual scavengers and lamented that caste discrimination is still existent in the society even after 70 years of independence.

The court made these remarks while hearing a Centre’s plea seeking withdrawal of a 2018 judgment which practically impaired the severe rules of instant arrest and no anticipatory bail for the accused on a complaint filed under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

A three-judge bench headed by Justice Arun Mishra said: “What have you done for manual scavenging? In no other country, people enter manholes without protective gears. What have you done about it?”

The bench further observed that manual scavengers were being discriminated as no one wanted to shake hands or wants to be with them as they clean sewage tanks.

It meanwhile reserved its judgement on the Centre’s petition seeking recall of its 2018 judgment.

—India Legal Bureau

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