The National Commission for Scheduled Castes on Tuesday upbraided the police for its negative role in enforcing laws to protect Dalits.
"We must admit the most unfortunate experience has been the deplorable, negative role of men in uniform who instead of protecting the victim protect the culprits by inaction and inefficiency", Fakir Bhai Vaghela, acting chairman of the commission said.
Vaghela was addressing police officers and bureaucrats responsible for enforcing the Protection of Civil Rights Act 1955 and the Scheduled Caste & Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocity) Act 1989 in the states at a two-day conference that started on Tuesday.
The police were "blissfully ignorant" of the provisions of the two laws and tackled these cases on the basis of their initial training in procedural laws. This resulted in miscarriage of justice, Vaghela said in his inaugural address setting the tone for a candid round of discussions that saw representatives of states reporting how successive governments back home made a mockery of the well-intentioned law.
According to figures compiled by the National Crime Records Bureau, the police register an offence under these laws every 20 minutes and complete the investigations in 80 per cent cases. But two-thirds of all cases registered end up in acquittals. The vigilance and monitoring committees mandated by the Prevention of Atrocity (POA) Act to keep an eye on the implementation of the law either do not exist or do not function.
Uttar Pradesh is one example. It has the monitoring committees. But when SK Rizvi, director general incharge of special inquiries in UP was asked if they hold meetings, told the commission, "they do not work". Punjab's social welfare secretary RL Kalsia acknowledged the three convictions that the state had been able to secure were "distressingly low" and called for "more" political will. Tamil Nadu's social welfare secretary complained that the district magistrates paid "scant attention" to social welfare programmes.
Email Aloke Tikku: atikku @hindustantimes.com