Scheduled Caste panel to spread out to states to redress grievances better

March 2nd, 2008 - 1:15 pm ICT by admin  

By Rajeev Ranjan Roy
New Delhi, March 2 (IANS) The National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) is planning to open offices in states in a bid to reach out to socially marginalized populations all over the country and redress their grievances. “These offices will enable us to address people’s grievances speedily and effectively. At present, the victims have to traverse to Delhi. Since most of them are economically not well off, the NCSC offices in states will be a relief to them,” Buta Singh, chairman of the NCSC, told IANS.

The official assessment suggested that at least 2,000 serious complaints reaching the NCSC could be sorted out effectively if the panel had offices in states.

Such complainants are those who are not satisfied with the response either from the state Scheduled Caste commissions or the department concerned.

“In this backdrop, we have decided to set up offices in at least major states initially. It is shocking why all the states do not have commissions for the Scheduled Castes. The state assemblies are eligible to create them, but they do not do so,” Singh added.

The states with statutory commissions for the Scheduled Castes are Rajasthan, Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Uttar Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Karnataka and Chhattisgarh. The rest of the states authorise their welfare departments to take care of the interests of the Scheduled Castes.

To begin with, the NCSC first wants to have a state office in Delhi. The nation’s capital has an independent commission for the minorities and the other backward classes (OBCs), but not for the Scheduled Castes, who account for over 2.3 million of the city’s total population.

A senior official in the NCSC said the commission was awaiting the response of the union ministry of social justice and empowerment to open offices in states. “The issue is being pursued with the ministry, and we hope to get their nod soon,” said the official, requesting anonymity.

A ministry official said: “The ministry approves of the commission’s proposal. The details need to be worked out. We are looking into different dimensions including finance before the expansion of the commission is undertaken.”

The move has gone down well with those fighting for the rights of Dalits.

“It is high time the government ensured that the commission has offices in all the states. Simultaneously, the existing state commissions should be empowered financially and constitutionally as well,” Sanjeev Kumar Nayak, secretary, Delhi-based National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR), told IANS.

“The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, the main tool to deal with atrocities against members of SCs and STs, is not effectively implemented. The state offices of the NCSC can make a difference in this regard,” Nayak added.

As many as 31,387 cases of atrocities were reported from different states during 2005-06, with incidents being reported from Madhya Pradesh, at 5,970, Rajasthan 4,657, Uttar Pradesh 4,375, Andhra Pradesh 3,571, Orissa 2,041, Karnataka 1,913, Bihar 1,811, Gujarat 1,538, Tamil Nadu 1,207, Maharashtra 1,057 and Chhattisgarh 950.

“Though the commission intervenes whenever there is a specific complaint about the non-compliance of the Act, the number of such cases would go down significantly when the monitoring mechanism is streamlined at the state level,” Nayak added.

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