SC/ST Commission seeks more powers
(By Our Special Correspondent)
New Delhi, March 3: The National Commission for SCs and STs today sought more powers and demanded effective steps to ensure that the benefits of the special budgetary allocations and reservations do percolate down to the needy and deserving.
Backing claims with facts and figures contained in the fifth report for the Commission for 1998-99 submitted to the President, the panel chairman, Mr. Dalip Singh Bhuria, along with other members told reporters here that atrocities on the SCs and STs continued and a majority of the cases ended in acquittals.
They sought some powers to prosecute errant officials for the effective implementation of statutory provisions for protection of the weaker swections. "So far, our powers are confined only to summon people, but without prosecution powers there is no teeth and thus effective implementation remains a distant dream", Mr. Bhuria said. (He also) suggested that necessary amendments should be made under the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution to prevent further litigation once the commission gave its directives.
Referring to the general welfare of the SC and ST, Mr. Bhuria and other members of the commission lamented "even after 50 years (of Independence) things have not improved". "There are still no proper roads and hospitals in many tribal and backward areas", he said.
Mr. Bhuria said that despite the Supreme Court verdict, the consent of the "tribal people or the community" was still not taken before acquisition of land from them. The commission had recently submitted its annual report for 1998-99 and a "special studies" report on the implementation of the provisions of the SCs and STs (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, in Uttar Pradesh and Madhya Pradesh.
He said the highest number of cases of atrocities against the SCs in 1998 was registered in Uttar Pradesh (6,511), followed by Rajasthan (5,586) and Madhya Pradesh (4,051). The trend in the previous years too was no different. The actual figures could be higher as there was the distinct possibility of all the cases not being registered for various reasons. It was disturbing that the percentage of acquittals in such cases was as high as 95 per cent.