The Supreme Court on Wednesday passed a slew of directions, including setting up of a three-member panel headed by a joint secretary-level officer, to enhance a sense of security and inclusion of the people from north-eastern states who faced racial violence and hate crimes.
The panel -- comprising joint secretary (North-east), the ministry of home affairs, and two other members to be nominated by the Union government -- has been given powers ranging from ensuring strict action in incidents of racial discrimination, racial atrocities and racial violence and suggesting measures to curb such hate and racial crimes.
The court also directed the government that the effective monitoring mechanism suggested by the M P Bezbaruah Committee in its report should be implemented and “should not like innumerable instances of its ilk, languish in dusty shelves of long forgotten archives”.
It was also of the view that involvement of the law enforcement machinery is alone not sufficient to resolve the problem and stressed that mindsets have to be changed including in universities, colleges and educational institutions, places of work and in society.
After perusing report of the panel headed by Bezbaruah, a former bureaucrat and member of the North Eastern Council, and the Centre’s response to it, a bench headed by Chief Justice T S Thakur said, “We are of the view that in order to enhance a sense of security and inclusion,...the ministry of home affairs should take proactive steps to monitor the redressal of issues pertaining to racial discrimination faced by citizens of the nation drawn from the Northeast.”
However, the court refrained from passing any direction on the proposal for amending the Indian Penal Code by inserting two new provisions -- sections 153C and 509A -- which was opposed by the Centre on the ground that sections 153A, 153B and 505(2) already exist as a part of the penal provision and covers the situation of racial crimes.
Also, the court took note of the Centre’s submission that the proposal was under examination and said “whether the law should be amended is for the Union government to decide...”
The apex court, which dealt with several incidents of racial discrimination and crimes against the people of north-eastern region, added, “The involvement of the law enforcement machinery is alone not sufficient to resolve the problem... Mindsets have to be changed including in universities, colleges and educational institutions, places of work and in society. Sensitivity and inclusion have to be fostered.”