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Tuesday, Sep 17, 2019

Katheria likely to be SC commission head, seven months after the post fell vacant

The opposition blames the government for delay in filling the posts and making the commission dysfunctional at the time atrocities against Dalits in Saharanpur.

india Updated: May 30, 2017 21:08 IST
Niha Masih
Niha Masih
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Former junior HRD minister Ram Shankar Katheria, a BJP MP from Agra, has been picked as the chairman of the National Scheduled Castes Commission.
Former junior HRD minister Ram Shankar Katheria, a BJP MP from Agra, has been picked as the chairman of the National Scheduled Castes Commission.(Saumya Khandelwal/HT FilePhoto)

The National Democratic Alliance government has taken seven months to find a chairperson for the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) and the likely choice is former junior HRD minister Ram Shankar Katheria.

Katheria, a BJP MP from Agra, was dropped from the union cabinet last July following a controversy over his mark-sheet and a hate speech against Muslims. The party, however, said he was relieved of his charge for Uttar Pradesh elections held earlier this year.

The commission, a Constitutional body to safeguard interests of the Dalits, has no chief or members at the moment.

According to the National Crime Records Bureau, the highest number of atrocities against Scheduled Castes were reported from Uttar Pradesh in 2015.

PL Punia, a Congress Rajya Sabha MP and previous chairman, said, “Houses of Dalits were burnt, they were injured yet police arrested them. No compensation has been disbursed. The commission should have taken the lead in providing them justice.”

Punia also slammed the government for the delay in reconstituting the commission saying all “complaints received by the commission are pending for months.”

Social justice minister Thawar Chand Gehlot said the commission was being reconstituted and names have been sent for President’s approval. The gazette notification is expected soon.

Giving reasons for the delay, the minister said, “Election code of conduct was in force due to the state assembly elections. The selection process began after March.”

The model code came into force in January 2017 while Punia’s term ended in October 2016.

Vice-chairperson Raj Kumar Verka retired six months ago. Member Raju Parmar completed his tenure in November 2016 while members Ishwar Singh and PM Kamalamma retired this March.

The government has to fill posts of a chairman, a vice-chairman and three members.

In the Rohith Vemula case, the commission had pushed the Telangana government to register a case under the SC/ST Atrocities Act against University of Hyderabad vice chancellor Appa Rao Podile and union labour minister Bandaru Dattatreya. The commission also directed the state government to provide compensation to Vermula’s family.

First Published: May 29, 2017 19:27 IST