An OBC leader of the Samajwadi Party (SP) appointed chairperson of the Uttar Pradesh Scheduled Castes (SC) and Scheduled Tribes (ST) Commission last year, has been given an extension for another year after completion of his tenure, inviting sharp reactions from SC members.
According to the Commission officials, the post of chairperson had always been held by an SC member before Ram Dular Rajbhar, who hails from Azamgarh, was appointed to the post in February 2014.
The Commission probes the grievances of discrimination and atrocities against the members of the SC and ST communities and works for safeguarding their rights.
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The Uttar Pradesh SC/ST Commission Act, 1995, too, mandated that the post of the Commission’s chairperson should be held by an SC member and two of its four members should be an ST and a woman.
The previous Mayawati government amended the Act in 2007, removing the compulsion of caste and gender in appointment of members of the Commission. The BSP government also increased the number of members from four to 17. The post of chairperson, however, was held by an SC during Mayawati regime.
The SP government, which had initially avoided selecting the heads such statutory commissions, had appointed Ramanand Bharti, an SC, as chairperson on January 27, 2014.
But, the appointment was scrapped the next month and Bharti was replaced by Rajbhar.
Rajbhar said his being an OBC does not make any difference in the functioning of the Commission. “My job is to provide justice to those who have suffered atrocities. I will take a decision on the basis of who is wrong and who is right,” he said.
Ambedkar Mahasabha vice-president S R Darapuri, however, termed Rajbhar’s appointment to the post as “totally inappropriate”. “Only a member of the SC/ST can better understand the issues affecting these communities. Such appointment is against the spirit and tradition of the Commission,” he said.
Darapuri said the complaints, in which OBCs are accused of committing atrocities on SC/STs, will also be probed by the Commission headed by an OBC, which makes it appear improper.
“Although all governments use the commissions to please their political allies or personal relatives by appointing them instead of able personalities, making an OBC the chairperson of SC/ST Commission makes the SP government look anti-Dalit,” Darapuri added.
Not just the chairperson, the officials in the commission said, as many as seven other members of the Commission are from the OBC and general categories.