Jan 5, 2021

National Human Rights Commission of India is responsible for the protection and promotion of Human rights. It has been in existence since 12th October 1993. NHRC’s recommendations and suggestions are valued by the government and judicial bodies and can influence the activities of an organization in government both at central and state levels. It can mobilize support on Human rights issues from individuals and organizations. Shri K.B Saxena prepared a report on the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act as per NHRC. This report talks about the Identification of the issues of Human rights violations faced by persons of the SC/ST community, and recommendations and suggestions given by NHRC.

SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocity) Act was enacted to prevent age-old biases and discrimination that are inflicted upon the SC/ ST community. There are several provisions provided under this Act; it has been observed that they are not being implemented properly. The purpose of this report is to identify the issues and work on the recommendation given by NHRC as well as discuss the initiatives taken by the NHRC to be able to control the situation of atrocities against the SC/ST community.

The issues that have been identified in the NHRC report on the SC/ST prevention of the atrocities act are-

  • The present Act requires the submission of annual reports to the parliament. This provision has not been implemented properly as the second report for 1991-92 was submitted in June 1998.
  • Government operates a centrally sponsored scheme for implementation of these acts. The Ministry of social justice and empowerment operates this scheme for strengthening of administration, investigation, and judicial machinery. The scheme provides a 50% share by the state government but, most of the state governments find it difficult because of their poor financial position.
  • The provisions of the Act include setting up of vigilant and monitoring committees at the state and the district and state level for identification of atrocity prone areas and better policing and vigilance, but this is not being implemented as the meetings are also not taking place.
  • A large number of cases are not registered under this Act due to ignorance of the law and under the pressure of politically influenced parties. 
  • Politically superior people often influence the appointment of prosecutors. Remuneration paid to the prosecutors is also low, and therefore, capable lawyers cannot be hired.
  • Despite the setting up of special courts, disposal of cases is generally poor, and the pendency of the cases is rising.
  • Punishment for the people committing atrocities must be prompt and sufficient, which is not the case as the laws are not being implemented strictly.  
  • Special courts set up under this Act are essentially a court of sessions, and it can take cognizance only when the case is committed to it by the judicial magistrate.  
  • The central government operates a centrally sponsored scheme from which the cost of relief and rehabilitation is to be met. Some states are yet to start the payment of rehabilitation. It also seeks to meet compensation for travelling and maintenance for victims and the witnesses to enable them to attend the court.

The recommendation that has been provided by the NHRC to improve the conditions of discrimination against SC/ST. They must be implemented straight away so that, atrocities against this community can be eradicated. 

  • These would include the preparation of manual specifying necessary steps for the effective implementation of the Act along with the responsibility of the concerned authorities at various levels in dealing with different provisions. This manual may be translated to the language of different states; a copy of the same shall be made available to all police stations and concerned authorities involved in the implementation of the Act. 
  • One of the most important recommendations by NHRC is Training of officials- 3 tier program for police and civil functionaries engaged in the implementation of laws and regulations. First-tier consists of training which maybe is imparted by the National Police Department and Lal Bahadur Shastri National Academy of administration to cover trainers only from each state. Second-tier training may be organized by the state training institution for each state government to include officers of levels of DSPs, SDMs, and ADMs. Third-tier deals with civil and police officers at the lower levels. District Magistrate and Superintendent of Police's organized training. NHRC must approve the design and structure of the concerned district. 

NHRC recommended more such measures such as

  • An annual workshop for DMs and SPs on the implementation of these laws which must be organized in the states administration training institutes where the state home and social welfare secretaries and DGPs may interact with participants about the issues concerning the subjects
  • NHRC may recommend to High courts to organize seminars for presiding officers of special courts as in-house training on the subject.
  • States need to establish exclusive special courts for dealing with atrocity cases in the district where the volume of such cases is more. Special public prosecutors who are capable and competent must be selected, and their remuneration must also be adequate to sustain their interest in work.
  • State-level and district level vigilance and monitoring committees shall meet regularly as per the provisions of this Act.
  • State Government should identify the atrocity prone areas and as per the provisions of this Act and prepare a plan of action for eliminating atrocities and discrimination against the SC/ST community. 
  • The state government may notify a lady officer from among the staff posted in each block, such as social welfare officers or women and child development officers. At the district level, women police stations must also be set up, which would be functioned by woman officers so that the lower caste community women can be entertained and registered. 

In my view, the recommendations given by NHRC to the issues identified are one of the most important measures which must be taken by the concerned authorities straight away. It would help in reaching towards our goal of eradicating these historical caste-based biases towards the SC/ST community.