December 18, 2013 2:41:27 am
Over the years,the annual reports of various national commissions set up for the welfare of deprived sections have been becoming irrelevant,since they are being tabled in Parliament years after their publication and being made public only after that.
Various government departments,too,have been taking years to prepare action-taken reports. As a result,the latest annual reports available for public perusal are years old.
Since the division of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes in 2004,only two annual reports of the SC Commission have been tabled in Parliament,that for 2004-05 in both Houses in March 2010,and that for 2006-07 in the Lok Sabha during the current session. As of now,three annual reports,two special reports and one supplementary report are with the President,waiting to be tabled.
The Indian Express has accessed information about the status of the annual reports after filing an RTI application,the responses coming from the national commissions for SCs,STs,Minorities,OBC and Safai Karmacharis.
The responses show that besides Parliament,some commissions too have delayed finalising their annual reports and,in many cases,the departments concerned with cases taken up in the reports have been unable to compile action-taken reports. For instance,the second annual report of the SC Commission for the period 2005-06 was submitted to the President only in May 2010.
Says P L Poonia,chairman,SC Commission,I have made several requests to ministers of social justice and empowerment for tabling our reports in time but they inform me that the ATRs from the departments concerned take time in preparation.
The National Minorities Commission is a little ahead of other commissions,with its last report tabled in Parliament being for the year 2010-11. Says Wajahat Habibulla,chairman of NCM,It is true that if the presentation of annual reports is delayed,say by four or five years,they become useless. We are very particular from our side. The latest of our reports tabled in Parliament is for 2010-11. Our reports after that year,too,are ready from our side.
The latest from the ST Commission to be tabled in both houses was the second annual report for 2006-07. It had been submitted to President on September 3,2009,and tabled in the Lok Sabha and the Rajya Sabha in April and May 2013 respectively. The oldest of its reports waiting to be tabled is for 2007-08,submitted to the President on March 29,2010. Its reports for 2008-09 and 2009-10 were submitted to the President over two years ago.
The ST Commissions CPIO,S P Meena,has replied to the RTI query,Publication (of the reports yet to be tabled) withheld till the report is placed before Parliament. Says Rameshwar Oraon,chairman of the ST Commission,I cannot say that these reports are wasted,but if they were tabled and debated in Parliament on time,they would certainly have had an impact on government policies. On the SC Commission website,the latest uploaded annual report is for 2001-02.
The Commission for Safai Karmacharis has responded,Since the National Commission for Safai Karmacharis is working as non-statutory body w.e.f. February 24,2004,hence its annual report is not laid on the table of Parliament.
The current Parliament session has seen the National OBC Commissions 2009-10 annual report tabled in the Lok Sabha. The oldest of the commissions pending annual reports is for 2010-11,ready since November 2012. The reports for 2011-12 and 2012-13 have not even been printed,according to the response by CPIO Shilpa Taneja. And the latest annual report on its website is for 2007-08.
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