A status report on the implementation of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act in Tamil Nadu was released by the Tamil Nadu Right to Information Campaign.
The Strategic Multi -Actor Round Table (SMART) was attended by over 50 participants. They included government representatives, retired civil servants, academics, human rights defenders, civil society organisations (CSO), and social movements. Five Deputy Superintendents of Police from the Human Rights and Social Justice Wing of the Police Department, Government of Tamil Nadu, were among the participants. P. S. Krishnan IAS (Former Secretary to Government of India, Ministry of Welfare) delivered the presidential address and received the first copy of the report from M.S Porkodi. R. Karupusamy, Director READ, presided. Edwin, HRF presented the findings.
Shri Karupusamy presented a toolkit developed to monitor the act using RTI and the rules. The participants resolved to continuously monitor implementation of the Act in Tamil Nadu, and formed the state level implementation monitoring group for the purpose.
Some highlights of the report
· Recorded cases under the Act were 1,476 for the year 2016 down 19% from 1,822 in 2015 (Annual Report 2016 and 2015) with an average crime rate of 14.1.
· Each week there is a murder and a rape of a Dalit, and two riots against the community.
· Only one rape of an Adivasi (ST) is recorded.
· Madurai is the only district to register a case under The Prohibition of Employment as Manual Scavengers and their Rehabilitation Act, 2013 (PEMSRA).
· The state level acquittal rate is 92.21%.
· 100% acquittal in 12 of 32 districts: Ramanathapuram (102 cases), Tiruppur, Thiruvarur, Pudukkottai, Thiruvallur, Thanjavur, Theni, Chennai, Tiruvannamalai, Coimbatore, Dindigul and Cuddalore. The numbers acquitted are particularly high in Cuddalore (0, 203), Pudukkottai (0, 165), Ramanathapuram (0,133), Theni (0, 108). Others with acute lopsidedness are Thoothukkudi (1, 133), Dharmapuri (1, 99), Villupuram (47, 594) and Tirunelveli (5, 188).
· The government has not gone on appeal against acquittal even in a single case.
· 66% of investigations have not been completed on time (within 60 days) as stipulated by the law.
· The average number of investigations completed per month is just 3.3 per DSP.
· Only DSPs of seven districts (Thoothukkudi, Coimbatore, Theni, Dindigul, Virudhunagar, Tirunelveli and Madurai) have completed more than one investigation a week.
· There is 81% pendency rate of cases in court.
· Pendency in 16 districts is increasing: Thanjavur, Perambalur, Vellore, Theni, Ariyalur, Chennai, Tiruvannamalai, Virudhunagar, Salem, Coimbatore, Namakkal, Nilgiris, Dindigul, Cuddalore, Madurai and Trichy.
· Only six (25%) of the mandatory 32 exclusive special courts have been formed.
· 29 districts have no record of Travel and Maintenance Expenses (TAME).
· 59% survivors did not get any relief amount during the year 2016.
· Only 8% got the compensation/relief within the stipulated time of 7 days.
· Zero court cases were completed the whole year in the Nilgiris, Perambalur and Kanyakumari.
· Zero State Vigilance and Monitoring Committee (SVMC) Meetings were conducted from 2013. Only three of 42 mandatory meetings have been held since inception in 1995.
· Despite ‘strict instructions’ no DVMC meetings were held in 2016 in four districts (Trichy, Sivagangai, Chennai and Madurai). Nine conducted only one (Kanchipuram, Kanyakumari, Karur, Pudukkottai, Thiruvallur, Thiruvannamalai, Thanjavur, Villupuram, and Cuddalore) though the law mandates quarterly meetings.
· Zero quarterly reviews of the cases (Rule (7(3)) were conducted.
· Zero performance reviews of the special public prosecutors (Rule 14 (2)) were conducted.
· No action was taken against any official for dereliction of duty (rule 4(4)) nor were they changed for incompetence.
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