EQUALITY INDIA NEWS SERVICE / A SHAKTI VAHINI RESEARCH INITIATIVE
Ministry of Home Affairs, Govt. of India has issued an advisory to the Chief Secretaries, Home Secretaries, Principal Secretaries of all State Governments and UT Administrations as well as informed for necessary action to concerned Ministries/Departments for curbing crime against Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes. This is in response to public demand. The Ministry has asked for issuance of suitable directions to all concerned for proper implementation and enforcement of the laws and has sought a report indicating the present status in regard to this issue within one month. The advisory is:
“Police’ and ‘Public Order‘ are State subjects under the Seventh Schedule (List-II) to the Constitution of India and, therefore, the State Governments and UT Administrations are primarily responsible for prevention, detection, registration, investigation and prosecution of all crimes within their jurisdiction including crimes against Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes. The Union Government, however, attaches the highest importance to matters relating to the prevention of crime; and therefore, the Union Government has been advising the State Governments/ UT Administrations from time to time to give more focused attention to the administration of the criminal justice system with emphasis on prevention and control of crime including crimes against Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes.
The Government of India have been advising the State Governments from time to time regarding the steps that need to be taken to afford a greater measure of protection to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. The advisory issued earlier with particular reference to crimes against SCs/STs vide Letter No. 15011/48/2009-SC/ST-W, dated 1.4.2010 may be referred to in this regard.
It has been noted that manual scavenging still persists in India and despite being outlawed; almost no one has been punished in 17 years of the existence of the Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, 1993. The Government of India is deeply concerned on the continuance of this shameful practice which violates human dignity and Articles 14, 17, 21 and 23 of the Constitution and would therefore re-emphasize that urgent action should be taken by the State Governments and UT Administrations to completely eradicate this practice. Accordingly, it is advised that urgent action should be taken by the State Governments and UT Administrations on the following:-
• Vigorous and conscientious enforcement of the statutory provisions and the existing legislations relating to crimes against Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes should be undertaken. It is reiterated that manual scavenging is punishable u/s 14, read with Section 3(1)(a), of the Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines(Prohibition) Act,1993. However, the enforcement of the Act by State Governments/ UTs is generally lax.
• Further, in terms of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes ( POA) Act, 1989, any act done to violate the dignity of a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe by a non-Scheduled Caste or non-Scheduled Tribe person would amount to an offence under Section 3 (1) (iii) of the Act. It may be noted that engaging or employing a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe to clean, handle or carrying human excreta amounts to violating his or her dignity and therefore, may fall within the ambit of Clause (iii) of Sub Section (1) of Section 3 of the Act. Therefore, such cases of manual scavenging may be pursued under appropriate Sections of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989
They are requested to issue suitable directions to all concerned under intimation to Ministry of Home Affairs for the proper implementation and enforcement of the laws. It is further requested that action taken in this regard may be reviewed by the State Governments and UT administrations and a report indicating the present status of the crime may be sent to this Ministry within a month”.