Mobile courts soon to try SC, ST atrocity cases

DH News Service

The first meeting of the State-level Vigilance and Monitoring Committee under SC/STs (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, which was held here today decided to launch mobile courts to try SC/ST atrocity cases.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting, Social Welfare Minister Kagodu Thimmappa said the mobile courts were being launched in view of huge pendency of SC/ST atrocity cases in courts. Around 4,000 cases were pending disposal in various courts. The pendency did not come down even after the government set up special courts in six districts.

The minister said the High Court would be requested to spare the services of a sessions judge for the mobile court. The High Court would also be requested not to burden the special courts with routine cases so that they could concentrate on trying SC/ST atrocity cases.

The minister said the meeting also noted with anxiety the abysmally poor rate of conviction in SC/ST atrocities case. There was not even a single conviction in the cases disposed of after 1998. There were two convictions in the cases disposed of in 1996 and in the next year there was only one conviction. The number of atrocity cases reported was 1,283 in 1996 and 1,252 in 1997. The main cause of the low rate of conviction was lack of evidence. Witnesses in most of the cases either did not come forward or backtracked for various reasons.

In order to address the situation, the meeting decided to arrange for on-the-spot payment of travel allowance and a day`s wages to the witnesses coming forward to depose in such cases. At present, this payment was unduly delayed and for getting the payment, the witnesses have to make repeated trips to the offices concerned. Delayed payment is as good as non- payment for them, the minister observed.

REHABILITATION: The meeting further decided to work out a rehabilitation package for the victims of the atrocity cases. Though, the government has been rehabilitating the victims of the atrocity cases, separate government orders needed to be issued for every such case now. Once the rehabilitation package was worked out, it would be uniformly applicable to all such cases, the minister said.

The meeting further decided to appoint Home Secretary S Mariswamy as nodal officer for the state-level committee. It was also decided to have district-level committees headed by respective deputy commissioners. All the deputy commissioners would be asked to constitute the committees within a month, failing which action would be taken against them.

He said measures would also be taken to create an awareness among the people against atrocities on SC/STs. The awareness campaigns would be launched by involving eminent social workers. Social Welfare Director M R Kamble has been asked to work out the details of the programme.

The minister said that the constitution of the state-level committee itself was delayed for long. The act was enacted in 1989 and the rules were framed in 1995. Under the rules, it was mandatory for every state to have a vigilance and monitoring committee, but in Karnataka it was not set up at all until he himself took interest. The notification setting up the committee headed by chief minister was issued on May 20, he said.

The meeting chaired by the chief minister was attended by Home Minister Mallikarjun Kharge, Women and Child Development Minister Motamma, Forest Minister K H Ranganath, all SC/ST legislators and MPs from the state, DG&IGP C Dinakar, Home Secretary M B Prakash and Social Welfare Secretary Tara Ajai Singh, among others. The committee would meet again in July to review the implementation of the decisions taken today.

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