571 cases of human rights violations against SC's heard in Nagpur open hearing
Geetanjali Minhas | February 1, 2013
Noting poor response of officials to complaints from people belonging to scheduled castes in most districts of Maharashtra, two benches of the national human rights commission (NHRC) heard 571 cases of human rights violations in the state. The benches, under Justice BC Patel and Satyabrata Pal, held three public hearings in Nagpur.
The complaints ranged from issues like forcible dispossession of land belonging to scheduled castes, denial of benefits of social welfare schemes, discrimination, grabbing of land by persons of upper castes, malpractices of revenue authorities, non-payment of retirement benefits, non issue of caste certificates etc. In some cases the commission directed the state government to reimburse traveling expenses of the complainants.
The commission observed that the delay in process of inquiry for issue of caste certificates was causing inconvenience to scheduled caste people. In many cases, when SC persons approached police with complaints, the police was reluctant to register FIR. There were also complaints regarding denial of benefit of the housing schemes. While land was allotted under the schemes, ‘Patta’ was not issued and entry of mutation in the revenue records was not made.
In matters relating to housing/land schemes where complainants had approached the courts of law and the matter was subjudice, the commission could not provide relief as it only has a directory role to play.
Pursuant to notices issued by the commission, in some cases the state government issued BPL cards caste certificates while others in government services were provided with retirement benefits and withheld salary.
Responding to a question on overcrowding of Arthur Road Jail, at the state guest house in Mumbai on Thursday the NHRC chairperson Justice Balakrishna said that jails are overcrowded because of under trials. "There are 65.3 percent under trials in different Indian jails. Many new jails are coming up across the country," he said.
Other issues like no appointment of chairperson of state Human Rights Commission and long delay of state vigilance committee meeting were brought to the notice of the commission at the review meeting held with NGO's on Thursday.
The NGOs said that Tanta Mukti Scheme, which had been launched by an executive order, was prejudicial to the interests of the SCs because they had no voice at the village level and decisions were taken under the influence of mighty upper caste persons. They also demanded a media campaign against untouchability.
Asking the commission to conduct an inquiry into the housing rights of Dalits, social activist Medha Patkar apprised the commission of subhuman living condition of slum dwellers. Referring to a large scale corruption in implementation of Slum Rehabilitation Scheme, Patkar said that section 5 of the slum's act was not being implemented properly.
The states chief secretary promising to look into all issues and assured an appraisal of the Tanta Mukti Scheme, if it was working to the prejudice of SC persons.
The DGP of Maharashtra said that while a circular for strict compliance of section 154 Cr. P.C. had been already issued, the circular would be reiterated with necessary directions to police officers at district level.
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