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49 victims of atrocities await justice

SC,ST Act: Compensation denied due to incomplete paperwork in most cases,says RTI reply.

The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989 talks about speedy justice to the victims of atrocities,but as many as 49 such victims in Pune district have been awaiting justice for the last at least two years. Minutes of the meetings of the District Vigilance Committee,procured under the Right to Information (RTI) Act,2005,show that though the issue came up for discussion more than once,no concrete solution came out in the last two years.

The law enacted to safeguard persons from the SC/ST communities against caste-based violence has provisions of monetary compensation for the victims. The amount of compensation is decided on the basis of the extent of injury or harm caused and ranges from Rs 25,000 to Rs 2 lakh. The law mandates an inquiry into the incident within 30 days and sending of the report to the home secretary for further action.

Minutes of the meeting,however,point out that since 2011,49 cases have been pending wherein monetary compensation is yet to be given to the victims. The pendency ranges from three months to two years.

In 2011,the district collector,who also heads the committee,had taken note of the pending cases and asked for reasons for the delay. During the meeting of July 4,2011,it was noted that though the investigations had to completed within a month,that had not been done in as many as 18 cases. “The chairman (district collector) had expressed serious displeasure for this delay,” said the RTI response. Similarly,the minutes of January 2,2012,noted that the committee while discussing the issue had decided to collect the phone numbers of the rural and urban police stations and then follow up the pending cases.

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At the May 6,2013,meeting,it was revealed that in many cases the police had managed to “resolve” the cases at their level but failed to inform the committee. “As the requisite paper work was not complete,the monetary compensation could not be allowed,” the minutes read.

Officials said several cases were pending because of incomplete paper work.

“The compensation is given when the paper work is complete. In many cases,the medical papers are also not complete. Without proper witnesses,the police refuse to complete the paper work. Such cases are pending,” said a senior official of the social welfare commissioner’s office who did not wish to be named.

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He added that it was not possible for the police to get any medical certificate in cases of eve-teasing and thus paper work in such cases would remain incomplete.

The commissioner of social welfare had,however,sent out a circular to the district social welfare offices to speed up disbursal of compensations.

Speaking on the matter,Republican Party of India leader Dr Siddharth Dhende said the sorry state of affairs was due to lack of proper coordination between different departments of the government. “The government should ensure that the revenue department,the police and the social welfare department are in sync with each other and take the cases registered under the Act seriously,” he said.

First published on: 28-10-2013 at 01:21 IST
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