PIL alleges Maha Govt`s apathy towards dalits, HC seeks reply

The Bombay HC today asked the Maha Govt to file an affidavit within three weeks informing whether it had forwarded reports to the Centre in the last five years on implementation of SC and ST Act in the state.

Mumbai: The Bombay High Court today asked the
Maharashtra Government to file an affidavit within three weeks
informing whether it had forwarded reports to the Centre in
the last five years on implementation of Scheduled Caste and
Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act in the state.

The direction was given by Justices Ranjana Desai and
Vijaya Kapse-Tahilramani on a PIL filed by NGO National Dalit
Movement for Justice, which alleged that the Act was not
being implemented in Maharashtra.

Public Prosecutor Pandurang Pol informed the bench that a
high-powered committee had been formed recently under the
Chairmanship of Chief Minister Ashok Chavan to oversee the
implementation of the Act.

Pol further told the court that the file concerning
appointment of a Nodal officer to oversee implementation of
the Act had been referred to the Chief Minister and said
within a fortnight a decision would be taken in this regard.

Counsel for the petitioner, Sanghraj Rupawate, alleged
since many years the Government had not constituted a high-
powered committee under the chairmanship of the Chief Minister
to oversee the implementation of the Act. Besides, he said,
nodal officer had not been appointed in accordance with the
rules framed under the Act in 1995.

He said all the states had to submit reports every year
on implementation of the Act to the Centre which tables the
reports before the Parliament. However, the Maharashtra
government had not followed this practice.

Rupawate said the PIL was based on 43 cases of atrocities
committed on Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe members from
various districts of Maharashtra.

The PIL brought to the notice of the High Court various
gaps and negligence by the implementing authorities at
different levels in effective implementation of Act.

According to the PIL, vigilance and monitoring committees
set up under Rule 16 and 17 of the rules framed under the Act
were not properly constituted and were not functioning at all
in the state. The government was also not sending report to
the Centre on March 31 every year as stipulated under the

The PIL alleged that the state was not performing its
specific responsibility in accordance with Rule 14 of the Act
to review twice in a year the performance of prosecutors,
consider reports received and investigations made in atrocity
cases apart from ascertaining preventive steps taken by police
and district magistrates and rehabilitation measures taken to
help the victims.

The PIL further alleged that in many cases FIRs were not
registered at all and, if registered, proper sections of the
Act were not applied. Besides, the accused were also not
arrested immediately.

The PIL contended that in special courts set up under the
Act special public prosecutors were not appointed to conduct
the trial.


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