New Delhi: Government on Friday expressed
"serious concern" over atrocities against Scheduled Castes
with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh stressing the need for
implementing in letter and spirit existing laws for their
Delivering his inaugural address at the Conference of
State Ministers of Welfare and Justice, Singh said it was
imperative that the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955 and
the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 are
"Although successive governments have made
progressive laws, which protect the basic rights and dignity
of those who are disadvantaged in one way or the another, the
real question is how to implement and enforce these laws
effectively," the Prime Minister said.
Singh said he had written to Chief Ministers on
this subject and hoped that the state welfare ministers would
"solemnly implement" in letter and spirit the two Acts.
Noting that "persons belonging to Scheduled Castes
constitute the most vulnerable segment of the society,"
Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Mukul Wasnik said
offences of atrocities against them continue to be a "matter
of serious concern."
He said there is a "substantial gap" between the
statutory requirements and the compliance of these laws in the
states and the machinery for effective implementation of the
two Acts in the states should be geared up.
The Prime Minister also said the government was
considering expanding its pilot scheme "Pradhan Mantri Adarsh
Gram Yojana" for integrated development of villages which have
a large Scheduled Caste presence. The Centre has launched the scheme on a pilot basis in
five states of Assam, Bihar, Himachal Pradesh, Rajasthan and
Tamil Nadu for integrated development of 1000 villages.
"Ensuring equitable development of all sections of
society and especially the weaker sections is central to the
government`s agenda of inclusive growth," the Prime Minister
Describing the Scheduled Caste Sub-Plan as a
"strategic measure" to address the development gap between the
SCs and the general population, Singh said state governments
must prepare and implement the SCSP with all sincerity so that
benefits actually goes to those for whom they are intended.
"I know the states are trying to earmark funds under
SCSP in proportion to their SC population. But how effective
the effort to concert outlays into outcomes? It clearly needs
to be much more concerted and evident," he said.
Terming manual scavenging as one of the "darkest
blots" and a "heinous" practice, the Prime Minister appealed
to the people to take a pledge that this "scourge" would be
eliminated in the next six months from every nook and corner
of the country.
Referring to a recent advisory of Home Ministry which
makes employing any SC or ST person as a manual scavenger
punishable under section 3 of the SC/ST (Prevention of
Atrocities) Act, he urged state governments to make full use
of the provisions of this "strong and prohibitive" instrument.
On disability, Singh said that the government proposes
to bring a new law to replace the existing "Persons with
Disability Act, 1955". "After consulting state governments and
other stake holders, we propose to introduce the bill in
Parliament," Singh said.