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Home / India News / 4 months on, Govt to name members to SC/ST panel

4 months on, Govt to name members to SC/ST panel

The term of the NCSC team led by its chairperson, BJP leader and former MP Ram Shankar Katheria ended in May.

india Updated: Oct 02, 2020, 04:51 IST
Smriti Kak Ramachandran
Smriti Kak Ramachandran
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders Ram Shankar Katheria and L Murugan headed the National Commission for Scheduled Castes until May.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders Ram Shankar Katheria and L Murugan headed the National Commission for Scheduled Castes until May. (NCSC)

The national commissions mandated to safeguard the rights of the Scheduled Castes, Scheduled Tribes and sanitation workers have been headless for months because the Union government is yet to appoint new office bearers to steer the three bodies.

The National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) and National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) are constitutional bodies and the National Commission for Safai Karamcharis (NCSK) was constituted as a statutory body by an Act of Parliament.

NCSC has been headless for the past four months; the top positions have been vacant in NCST and NCSK for longer.

The term of the NCSC team led by its chairperson, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and former MP Ram Shankar Katheria ended in May. Its vice-chairperson L Murugan has since been appointed as the president of the BJP’s Tamil Nadu unit.

BJP’s Nand Kumar Sai’s term as chairperson of NCST came to an end in February. BJP Gujarat leader Manhar Valjibhai Zala’s term as the chairperson of NCSK ended in April.

A government functionary aware of the details said no meetings have been held to discuss potential replacements to head the constitutional bodies that have the powers to investigate and monitor all matters relating to the safeguards provided for the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes under the Constitution.

NCSC and NCST also have the mandate to inquire into specific complaints with respect to the deprivation of the rights of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

“While the state governments and the Centre take action against atrocities against Dalits; the intervention of the commission is necessary and reassuring in case there is any laxity in probes or registering complaints. The commission also follows up with ensuring compensation is paid to the victims,” said a former NCSC functionary, requesting anonymity.

Two recent acts of sexual assault and violence against Dalits have been reported from Uttar Pradesh -- an alleged gang-rape of a 19-year-old Dalit woman in Hathras on September 14, who died in a New Delhi hospital on Tuesday; and the death of 22-year old Dalit girl from Balrampur on Wednesday, after being raped and brutalised.

This is not the first time that NCSC has been without a chairperson. After the term of PL Punia as its chairperson ended in October 2016; Katheria was appointed to the constitutional body only in May 2017.

Bhalchandra Mungekar, a former Rajya Sabha MP from the Congress, said, “...the formation of the commission is a statutory obligation. Their annual reports are tabled in Parliament along with the action taken reports by the government. Insensitivity to issues confronting the schedule castes is contrary to the {government’s} slogan of ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas, Sabka Vishwas.’ SCs are the most deprived sections not only economically but also socially, culturally, educationally and politically.”

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