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Thursday, December 29, 2016

“I do not want to be reborn, but if I am reborn, I wish that I should be born as a Harijan, as an untouchable, so that I may lead a continuous struggle, a lifelong struggle against the oppressions and indignities that have been heaped upon these classes of people”. – Mahatama Gandhi =The Petitioners therein filed a Writ Petition seeking enforcement of the provisions of the Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act, 1993. This Court held as under: “24. In the light of various provisions of the Act referred to above and the Rules in addition to various directions issued by this Court, we hereby direct all the State Governments and the Union Territories to fully implement the same and take appropriate action for non-implementation as well as violation of the provisions contained in the Act 2013. Inasmuch as the 2013 Act occupies the entire field, we are of the view that no further monitoring is required by this Court. However, we once again reiterate that the duty is cast on all the States and the Union Territories to fully implement and to take action against the violators. Henceforth, persons aggrieved are permitted to approach the authorities concerned at the first instance and thereafter the High Court having jurisdiction.”

                                                                  REPORTABLE

                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                    WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) No. 140 of 2006

NATIONAL CAMPAIGN ON DALIT HUMAN RIGHTS & ORS.
                                                           .... Appellant(s)
                                   Versus
UNION OF INDIA & ORS.
                                                                ….Respondent

                               J U D G M E N T

L. NAGESWARA RAO, J.

“I do not want to be reborn, but if I am reborn, I wish  that  I  should  be
born as a Harijan, as an untouchable,  so  that  I  may  lead  a  continuous
struggle, a lifelong struggle against the oppressions and  indignities  that
have been heaped upon these classes of people”. – Mahatama Gandhi

      The Petitioners who are voluntary  organisations  are  continuing  the
struggle for emancipation of  members  of  Scheduled  Castes  and  Scheduled
Tribes.  The Petitioners have filed this Writ Petition aggrieved by the non-
implementation of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes  (Prevention  of
Atrocities) Act, 1989 (hereinafter referred to as ‘the Act’) and  the  rules
made thereunder, seeking the following reliefs:
“Issue  a  writ  of  mandamus  or  any  other  appropriate  writ,  order  or
direction, directing the Respondents  to  set  up  special  officers,  nodal
officers and protection cell as required under the Act forthwith.
Pass an order directing the nodal officer to investigate every case where  a
complaint is made to him regarding negligence of  a  police  officer,  where
the FIRs are illegally no registered or registered improperly, where  charge
sheets are filed late, where the investigation is done by an  officer  lower
in rank than a Dy. SP, and to take action against the officer concerned  for
acting contrary to the provisions of the Act in accordance with law.
Pass an order directing the Respondents to file  status  reports  on  filing
charge-sheets in SC/ST (PoA) Act of 1989 cases and duration that have  taken
in last five years.
Pass an order directing the Respondents to set up  separate  Special  Courts
for each district within six months
Pass  an  order  directing  the  Respondent  to  file  status   reports   on
registration of FIR’s against the erring officials under Section  4  of  the
Act.
Pass an order directing the Respondents  to  identify  and  notify  atrocity
prone  areas  and  to  take  appropriate  action  in  accordance  with   law
immediately.
Pass an order directing the Respondents to file status reports on the  cases
they registered against SC/STs after the SC/ST lodged complaint  and  status
of the cases.
Pass an order directing the  judicial  officers  to  carefully  monitor  all
cases in their jurisdiction to ensure that he cases are given  top  priority
and speedy justice is done for the victims of caste atrocities & to  make  a
report every six months to the High Court.
Pass an order directing the District Magistrate to  review  the  performance
of Special Public Prosecutors every month & report to their respective  High
Court.
Pass an order directing the Respondent to file status reports of the  public
prosecutors’ performance regarding SC/ST cases with a period of six months.
Pass an order directing the District Magistrates to appoint senior  Advocate
for prosecution if the victim so desires.
Pass an order  directing  the  Respondent  to  appoint,  wherever  possible,
public prosecutors  from  the  SC/ST  caste  and  If  possible  SC/ST  women
advocates and impart periodic training.
 Pass an order directing all judicial officers  to  play  a  proactive  role
during the trial to ensure that the prosecution conducts itself  competently
and nothing is done to result in any disservice to the victims.
Pass an order directing the Respondents and  particularly  the  Director  of
Prosecutions to review all cases of acquittal by  the  Special  Courts  over
the last five years which have not been  carried  in  appeal,  and  to  take
immediate steps in accordance with law.
Pass an order directing all judicial officers to  pay  particular  attention
for cases where the accused have not been arrested.
Pass an order directing all judicial officers to  ensure  that  no  pressure
whatsoever is brought to bear on the victims or  their  witnesses  to  force
them to withdraw from prosecution.
Pass an order directing the  Respondents  to  instruct  the  special  public
prosecutors to file for cancellation of bail where the same is  contrary  to
the purpose and objective of the Atrocities Act.
Pass  an  order  directing  the  Chief   Secretary/Administrators   of   the
Respondents  State/UT’s   to   enquire   into   the   performance   of   the
Superintendents of  Police  and  the  Collectors  of  every  district  where
atrocities are frequently reported  and,  wherever  justified,  punish  such
officers for not acting promptly and in accordance with the law.
Pass an order directing the Respondents to frame  a  rehabilitation  package
forthwith in accordance with the Act and Rules.
Pass an order directing the Respondents to set up Dalit  Legal  Aid  Centers
operated by Dalit lawyers  and  funded  by  the  State  Legal  Aid  Services
Authority.
Pass an order directing the State Governments  to  implement  the  SC  &  SC
(PoA) Act of 1989 fully (West Bengal)
Pass an order directing the Police officers to apply their minds to all  the
provisions of Section 3(1)(i) to 3(1)(xv) while registering FIRs.
Pass an order directing the Respondent that on a  complaint  being  made  by
the victim of  a  social/economic  boycott,  the  Bail  of  the  accused  be
cancelled and strict action including  criminal  prosecution  taken  against
the officials by  the  District  Magistrates  and  the  presiding  officers.
(Compensation to be paid by the state)
Pass  an  order  directing  the  Respondents  to  file  status  reports   on
compensation and  allowances  paid  and  remaining  to  be  paid  under  the
provisions of the Act for the last  five  years  and  to  make  payments  of
compensation wherever due forthwith.
Pass an  order  directing  the  Respondents  to  revised  and  increase  the
applicable compensation  rates  and  realistic  and  current  market  prices
terms.
Pass an order directing  the  Respondents  to  appoint  leading  members  of
reputed organizations active in there are of Dalit rights on the  Monitoring
and Vigilance Committees throughout the State to which at least  50%  should
consist of women members throughout the State.
Pass an order directing the Respondents to implement the provision  relating
to imposition of collective fines wherever applicable under this Act.
Pass an order directing the Respondents for the implementation of  the  NHRC
Report 2002.
      Pass such other order(s) or direction(s) or writ(s) as deemed fit  and
proper;”

Mr. Colin Gonsalves, learned Senior Counsel appearing  for  the  Petitioners
submitted that he is, at present, praying  for  four  directions  from  this
Court which are as follows:

“A.   Issue a writ of mandamus or  any  other  appropriate  writ,  order  or
direction, directing the Respondents  to  set  up  special  officers,  nodal
officers and protection cell as required under the Act forthwith.
F.   Pass  an  order  directing  the  Respondents  to  identify  and  notify
atrocity prone areas and to take appropriate action in accordance  with  law
immediately.
S.    Pass an order directing the  Respondents  to  frame  a  rehabilitation
package forthwith in accordance with the Act and Rules.
X.    Pass an order directing the Respondents  to  file  status  reports  on
compensation and  allowances  paid  and  remaining  to  be  paid  under  the
provisions of the Act for the last  five  years  and  to  make  payments  of
compensation wherever due forthwith.”

The Preamble to the Constitution of India provides for social, economic  and
political justice  and  equality  of  status  and  opportunity  to  all  its
citizens. Article 15 of the Constitution  prohibits  discrimination  on  the
grounds of religion, race, caste, sex or place of birth.  Untouchability  is
abolished and its practice in any form is forbidden by  Article  17  of  the
Constitution.  The  enforcement   of   any   disability   arising   out   of
untouchability as per Article 17 shall be an offence  punishable  under  the
law. Article 46 reads as under:
“Article 46. Promotion of educational and economic  interests  of  Scheduled
Castes, Scheduled Tribes and other weaker sections- The State shall  promote
with a special care the education  and  economic  interests  of  the  weaker
sections of the people, and, in particular, of the Scheduled Castes and  the
Scheduled Tribes , and shall protect them  from  social  injustice  and  all
forms of exploitation.”

Articles 338 and 338A  of  the  Constitution  provide  for  constitution  of
National   Commissions   for   Scheduled   Castes   and   Scheduled   Tribes
respectively. The relevant portions of Articles 338 and 338A are as under:

“Article 338. National Commission for Scheduled Castes.

(1) There shall be a Commission for the Scheduled Castes to be known as  the
National Commission for the Scheduled Castes.

                      *               *               *

(5) It shall be the duty of the Commission—
(a)   to investigate and monitor all  matters  relating  to  the  safeguards
provided for the Scheduled Castes  under  this  Constitution  or  under  any
other law for the time being in force or under any order of  the  Government
and to evaluate the working of such safeguards;
(b)   to inquire into specific complaints with respect  to  the  deprivation
of rights and safeguards of the Scheduled Castes;
(c)   to participate and advise on the planning  process  of  socio-economic
development of the Scheduled Castes and to evaluate the  progress  of  their
development under the Union and any State;
(d)   to present to the President, annually and at such other times  as  the
Commission may deem fit, reports upon the working of those safeguards;
(e)   to make in such  reports  recommendations  as  to  the  measures  that
should be taken by the Union or any State for the  effective  implementation
of those safeguards and other  measures  for  the  protection,  welfare  and
socio-economic development of the Scheduled Castes; and
(f)   to discharge such other  functions  in  relation  to  the  protection,
welfare and development and advancement  of  the  Scheduled  Castes  as  the
President may, subject to the provisions of any law made by  Parliament,  by
rule specify.

(6) The President shall cause all such reports to be laid before each  House
of Parliament along  with  a  memorandum  explaining  the  action  taken  or
proposed to be taken on the recommendations relating to the  Union  and  the
reasons for the non-acceptance, if any, of any of such recommendations.

Article 338A. National Commission for Scheduled Tribes.

(1) There shall be a Commission for the Scheduled Tribes to be known as  the
National Commission for the Scheduled Tribes.

                      *               *               *


(5) It shall be the duty of the Commission—

(a)   to investigate and monitor all  matters  relating  to  the  safeguards
provided for the Scheduled Tribes  under  this  Constitution  or  under  any
other law for the time being in force or under any order of  the  Government
and to evaluate the working of such safeguards;

(b)   to inquire into specific complaints with respect  to  the  deprivation
of rights and safeguards of the Scheduled Tribes;

(c)   to participate and advise on the planning  process  of  socio-economic
development of the Scheduled Tribes and to evaluate the  progress  of  their
development under the Union and any State;
(d)   to present to the President, annually and at such other times  as  the
Commission may deem fit, reports upon the working of those safeguards;

(e)   to make in such  reports  recommendations  as  to  the  measures  that
should be taken by the Union or any State for the  effective  implementation
of those safeguards and other  measures  for  the  protection,  welfare  and
socio-economic development of the Scheduled Tribes; and

(f)   to discharge such other  functions  in  relation  to  the  protection,
welfare and development and advancement  of  the  Scheduled  Tribes  as  the
President may, subject to the provisions of any law made by  Parliament,  by
rule specify.


                      *               *               *
(8) The Commission shall, while investigating any matter referred to in sub-
clause (a) or inquiring into any complaint referred to in sub-clause (b)  of
clause (5), have all the powers of a  civil  court  trying  a  suit  and  in
particular in respect of the following matters, namely:—

(a)   summoning and enforcing the attendance of any person from any part  of
India and examining him on oath;

(b)   requiring the discovery and production of any document;

(c)   receiving evidence on affidavits;
(d)   requisitioning any public record or copy thereof  from  any  court  or
office;

(e)   issuing commissions for the examination of witnesses and documents;

(f)   any other matter which the President may, by rule, determine.”

4.     A  brief  historical  background  of  the  National  Commission   for
Scheduled Castes and  Scheduled  Tribes  as  stated  in  the  Annual  Report
submitted to the Parliament by National Commission for Scheduled  Castes  in
the year 2014-15 is as follows:



      “For effective implementation of various safeguards  provided  in  the
Constitution for the welfare of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled  Tribes  (SCs
and STs) and in various  other  protective  legislations,  the  Constitution
provided for appointment of a Special  Officer  under  Article  338  of  the
Constitution. The Special Officer who was  designated  as  Commissioner  for
Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes was assigned the duty  to  investigate
all matters relating to the safeguards for SCs and STs, provided in  various
statutes, and to report to the President of India on the  working  of  these
safeguards. In order to facilitate effective functioning of  the  office  of
the Commissioner for Scheduled Castes  and  Scheduled  Tribes,  17  regional
offices of the Commissioner were also set  up  in  different  parts  of  the
country. On persistent demand of the Members of Parliament that  the  Office
of the Commissioner for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes alone was  not
enough  to  monitor  the  implementation  of  Constitutional  safeguards,  a
proposal was mooted for amendment of Article 338 of the Constitution (Forty-
sixth Amendment) for replacing the arrangement of one Member system  with  a
Multi Member system. The Government thereafter through a resolution in  1987
decided to set up a Multi-Member Commission, which  was  named  as  National
Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.  Consequent  upon  the
Constitution  (Eighty-Ninth  Amendment)  Act,  2003  coming  into  force  on
19.02.2004, the erstwhile  National  Commission  for  Scheduled  Castes  and
Scheduled Tribes has been replaced by (1) National Commission for  Scheduled
Castes and (2) National Commission for Scheduled Tribes. The  Rules  of  the
National Commission for Scheduled Castes was notified on 20  February,  2004
by the Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment.”[1]








The duties  of  the  National  Commission  are  provided  in  the  Rules  of
Procedure of the National Commission for Scheduled Castes.  Chapter  III  of
the said Rules deals with investigation and inquiry by the  Commission.  The
relevant provisions are as follows:

“7.0 Investigation and Inquiry by the Commission

7.1 The Commission shall function by holding ‘sittings’  and  ‘meetings’  at
any  place  within  the  country  and  also  through  its  officers  at  the
Headquarters and in  the  State  Offices.  The  Members  of  the  Commission
including  the  Chairperson  and  the  Vice-Chairperson  shall  function  in
accordance with the procedure prescribed under these rules.

                      *               *               *


7.2. (a) Investigation and Inquiry by the Commission directly.

7.2.(a) i The Commission may hold sittings for  investigation  into  matters
relating  to  safeguards,  protection,  welfare  and  development   of   the
Scheduled  Castes  for  inquiry  into  specific  complaints  for  which  the
Commission decided to  take  up  investigation  or  inquiry  directly.  Such
sittings may be held either at the Headquarters of the Commission or at  any
other place within the country.

                      *               *               *


7.5 Inquiry into cases of atrocities

7.5.1 Whenever information is received in the Commission about any  incident
of atrocity against a person belonging to Scheduled Castes,  the  Commission
would immediately get in touch with the  law  enforcing  and  administrative
machinery of the  State  and  the  district  to  ascertain  the  details  of
incident and the action taken  by  the  district  administration.  If  after
detailed  inquiry/investigation;  the  Commission  finds  substance  in  the
allegation/complaint regarding atrocity, the  Commission  may  recommend  to
file an FIR against the accused with the concerned law-enforcing  agency  of
the  State/District.  In   such   cases,   the   State   Government/District
Administration/Police Personnel may be called with three  days  through  the
summons.”

Chapter VIII of the Rules provides  for  the  monitoring  functions  of  the
Commission which are as under:

      “15.0 Monitoring Functions of the Commission

15.1 The Commission to determine
subjects for monitoring

The Commission may determine from time to time the subjects or  matters  and
areas that it would monitor relating to safeguards and other  socio-economic
development  measures  provided  for  the   Scheduled   Castes   under   the
Constitution or under any other law for the time being  in  force  or  under
any order of the Govt.

                      *               *               *


16.0 Follow-up action

16.1  In  order  to  ensure  that  monitoring  is  done   effectively,   the
Commission, after getting the information as prescribed in the  above  rules
and  after  reaching  conclusions,  may  as  early  as  possible  send   out
communications to the concerned authority describing the  shortcomings  that
have been noticed in the implementation of  the  safeguards  and  suggesting
corrective steps. Decisions on sending  out  such  a  communication  may  be
taken at a level  not  lower  than  that  of  Joint  Secretary/Secretary  at
Headquarters. Directors-in-Charge of State Offices  may  take  decisions  on
routine matter whereas they will seek approval  of  the  Secretary  and  the
concerned Member on complex and important matters affecting the interest  of
Scheduled Castes as a group.

16.2 The Commission may ask for the comments of the concerned  authority  on
the action taken in pursuance of the communications sent under the Rule 76.

16.3 The Commission may include in its Annual Report or any Special  Report,
findings and conclusions arrived at through the  process  of  monitoring  of
the subjects relating  to  the  safeguards  and  socio-economic  development
measures provided for the Scheduled Castes under the Constitution  or  under
any other law for the time  being  in  force  or  under  any  order  of  the
Union/State Government.”

5.          Article 39A of the Constitution provides for free legal  aid  to
ensure that opportunities  for  securing  justice  are  not  denied  to  any
citizen by reason of economic or  other  disabilities.  The  Legal  Services
Authorities Act, 1987  (hereinafter  referred  to  as  “the  LSA  Act”)  was
enacted to constitute special authorities for providing free  and  competent
legal services to weaker sections of the society. Section 4 (m) of  the  LSA
Act provides for special efforts to be made for  enlisting  the  support  of
voluntary social welfare institutions, particularly among  Scheduled  Castes
and Scheduled Tribes. Section 12 of the LSA Act provides for free legal  aid
to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.





6.          One of the purposes of the United  Nations  is  to  promote  and
encourage respect for  and  observation  of  human  rights  and  fundamental
freedoms  for  all,  without  distinction  as  to  race,  sex,  language  or
religion. Article 1 of the International Convention on  the  Elimination  of
All Forms of Racial Discrimination, 1966 (ICERD) is as under:





“Article 1

1. In this Convention, the  term  "racial  discrimination"  shall  mean  any
distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference  based  on  race,  colour,
descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the  purpose  or  effect  of
nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an  equal
footing,  of  human  rights  and  fundamental  freedoms  in  the  political,
economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.

2.  This  Convention  shall   not   apply   to   distinctions,   exclusions,
restrictions or preferences  made  by  a  State  Party  to  this  Convention
between citizens and non-citizens.

3. Nothing in this Convention may be interpreted as  affecting  in  any  way
the legal provisions of States Parties concerning  nationality,  citizenship
or  naturalization,  provided  that  such  provisions  do  not  discriminate
against any particular nationality.

4. Special  measures  taken  for  the  sole  purpose  of  securing  adequate
advancement of certain racial or  ethnic  groups  or  individuals  requiring
such protection as may be necessary  in  order  to  ensure  such  groups  or
individuals equal enjoyment or exercise  of  human  rights  and  fundamental
freedoms shall not be deemed racial discrimination, provided, however,  that
such measures do not, as a consequence, lead to the maintenance of  separate
rights for different racial groups and that  they  shall  not  be  continued
after the objectives for which they were taken have been achieved.”[2]

Certain recommendations on Article 1  of  the  ICEDR  were  adopted  on  1st
November 2002 which provide as under:

“Confirming the consistent view of the Committee that the term "descent"  in
article 1, paragraph 1, the Convention does not solely refer to  "race"  and
has a meaning and application which complement the other prohibited  grounds
of discrimination,

Strongly  reaffirming that  discrimination  based  on   "descent"   includes
discrimination against members of  communities  based  on  forms  of  social
stratification such as caste  and  analogous  systems  of  inherited  status
which nullify or impair their equal enjoyment of human rights,”[3]

These         recommendations   also   strongly   condemn    decent    based
discrimination such as discrimination based on caste.    It  is  significant
that there was  also  a  recommendation  that  the  legislations  and  other
measures already in force should be strictly implemented.


7.    To give effect to Article 17  in  its  true  letter  and  spirit,  the
Parliament enacted the Untouchability (Offences) Act, 1955. Sections 3 to  7
of the said Act prescribed punishments for enforcing religious,  social  and
any other kind of disabilities on the ground of untouchability.  There  were
several complaints from various quarters of the society  about  the  lacunas
and loopholes in the said Act. Several amendments were made to the said  Act
which was rechristened as the ‘Protection of Civil  Rights  Act,  1955’.  In
spite of a major overhaul, it was  noticed  that  the  Protection  of  Civil
Rights Act, 1955 and the Indian Penal Code, 1860 were  inadequate  to  check
the atrocities committed on Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. The  fact
that the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes remained a  vulnerable  group
in spite of the introduction of several measures  to  improve  their  socio-
economic condition was a matter of  deep  concern  to  the  Parliament.  The
Parliament acknowledged that the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes  were
subject to  various  offences,  indignities,  humiliations  and  harassments
perpetually. Numerous incidents of brutalities and atrocities depriving  the
Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes of their  life  and  property  were  a
cause of concern for the Parliament. Considering the fact that there was  an
increase in the disturbing trend of commission  of  atrocities  against  the
Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, the Parliament enacted the  Scheduled
Castes and Scheduled  Tribes  (Prevention  of  Atrocities)  Act,  1989.  The
Preamble to the Act reads as under:
“An Act to prevent the commission of  offences  of  atrocities  against  the
members of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled  Tribes,  to  provide  for
special courts for the trial  of  such  offences  and  for  the  relief  and
rehabilitation of the victims of such offences  and  for  matters  connected
therewith or incidental thereto.”

8.    The Act enlarges the scope of criminal liability by including  several
acts or omissions of atrocities which were not covered by the  Indian  Penal
Code or the Protection of Civil Rights Act,  1955.  The  Act  also  provides
protection  to  the  Scheduled  Castes  and  Scheduled  Tribes  for  various
atrocities   affecting   social    disabilities,    properties,    malicious
prosecution, political  rights  and  economic  exploitation.  The  Act  also
provides for enhanced punishment for  commission  of  offences  against  the
Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. The minimum  punishment  for  neglect
of duties committed by a public servant was also increased. Provisions  were
made for granting minimum relief and compensation to victims  of  atrocities
and their legal heirs.  The  other  salient  features  of  the  Act  include
externment of potential offenders from Scheduled Areas and Tribal  Areas  as
well as attachment of the properties of the accused. The Act  prohibits  the
grant of Anticipatory Bail to the accused and  the  Probation  of  Offenders
Act, 1958  was  also  made  inapplicable  to  the  Act.  Certain  preventive
measures provided in the  Act  include  cancellation  of  arms  licenses  of
potential offenders and even grant of arms licenses to Scheduled Castes  and
Scheduled Tribes as a means of self defence.



9.    We have examined the  NHRC  Report  on  Atrocities  against  Scheduled
Castes[4], the report of Justice K Punnaiah Commission[5], Sixth  report  of
the National Commission for Scheduled Castes[6]  and  a  paper  titled  “The
Status of Implementation and  need  for  amendments  in  the  Prevention  of
Atrocities Act, India” published by Petitioner No. 1.  It  is  contended  by
the Petitioners  that  the  implementation  of  the  Act  has  been  totally
ineffective and that Dalits are still suffering from atrocities in  view  of
the non compliance of various provisions of the Act. The NHRC in its  Report
observed that “even in respect of heinous crimes  the  police  machinery  in
many  states  has  been  deliberately  avoiding  the  Scheduled  Castes  and
Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989”.  The Report  further
highlighted the non registration of cases  and  various  other  machinations
resorted to by the police to discourage Dalits from registering cases  under
the Act. The Petitioners also highlighted the  persisting  problem  of  non-
registration of cases under appropriate provisions of  the  Act,  delays  in
filing of charge-sheet, accused not being arrested,  release  of  high  risk
offenders on bail and filing  of  false  and  counter  cases  against  Dalit
victims. The Petitioners also complained of non-payment of  compensation  to
the victims or their legal  heirs.  The  Petitioner  also  relied  upon  the
findings of the sixth Report of the National Commission  to  show       that
the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes  have  no  access  to  legal  aid.
Various  committees  contemplated  by  the  Act  at   various   levels   are
dysfunctional.

10.   The Petitioners submitted that Rules 3, 8, 9, 10, 15(1), 16 and 17  of
the Scheduled Castes and Schedules Tribes (prevention of Atrocities)  Rules,
1995 (hereinafter referred to as “the Rules”) have to be  strictly  complied
with by the concerned authorities. Rule 3  provides  for  identification  of
atrocity prone areas and for preventive measure to be taken. Rule  8  refers
to setting up Special Cells to  conduct  survey  of  the  identified  areas,
informing  Nodal  Officers  and  Special  Officers  on  the  law  and  order
situation of identified areas, making enquiries about the investigation  and
spot inspections, wilful negligence of  various  authorities  and  reviewing
the position of cases registered.  Rules 9 and 10 deal with the  appointment
of  Nodal  Officers  and  Special   Officers.   A   contingency   plan   for
implementation of provisions of  the  Act  is  dealt  with  in  Rule  15(1).
Vigilance and Monitoring Committees to  review  the  implementation  of  the
provisions of the Act at the State and District  level  have  to  be  set-up
under Rule 16 and 17.  According  to  Section  14  of  the  Act,  designated
special courts and exclusive special  courts  have  to  be  established  for
speedy trial of offences under the Act.

11.   The Act was made  in  1989  because  the  Parliament  found  that  the
provisions of the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955 were  inadequate  and
did not curb the evil practice of atrocities against Dalits.  The  grievance
of the Petitioners has been that though the Act is comprehensive  enough  to
deal  with  the  social  evil,  its  implementation   has   been   painfully
ineffective. The ever increasing number of cases is also  an  indication  to
show that there is a total  failure  on  the  part  of  the  authorities  in
complying with the provisions of the Act and the Rules. Placing reliance  on
the NHRC Report and other reports, the Petitioners sought  a  mandamus  from
this Court for effective implementation of the Act and the Rules.

12.    We have carefully examined the material on record and we are  of  the
opinion that there  has  been  a  failure  on  the  part  of  the  concerned
authorities in complying with the provisions  of  the  Act  and  Rules.  The
laudable object with which  the  Act  had  been  made  is  defeated  by  the
indifferent  attitude  of  the  authorities.  It  is  true  that  the  State
Governments are responsible for carrying out the provisions of  the  Act  as
contended by the counsel for the Union of  India.  At  the  same  time,  the
Central Government has an important role to play in ensuring the  compliance
of the provisions of the Act. Section 21 (4)  of  the  Act  provides  for  a
report  on  the  measures  taken  by  the  Central  Government   and   State
Governments for the effective implementation of the Act to be placed  before
the Parliament every year. The constitutional goal of equality for  all  the
citizens of this country can  be  achieved  only  when  the  rights  of  the
Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes are protected. The  abundant  material
on record proves that the authorities concerned are guilty of not  enforcing
the provisions of the Act. The travails of  the  members  of  the  Scheduled
Castes and the Scheduled Tribes continue unabated.  We  are  satisfied  that
the Central Government and State Governments should be directed to  strictly
enforce the provisions of the Act and we do  so.  The  National  Commissions
are also directed to discharge their duties to protect the Scheduled  Castes
and Scheduled Tribes. The National Legal Services Authority is requested  to
formulate appropriate schemes to spread awareness  and  provide  free  legal
aid to members of the Scheduled Castes  and  Scheduled  Tribes.   A  similar
situation arose before this Court in Safai Karamchari Andolan  v.  Union  of
India, (2014) 11 SCC 224.  The Petitioners therein  filed  a  Writ  Petition
seeking  enforcement  of  the  provisions  of  the  Employment   of   Manual
Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines (Prohibition) Act,  1993.   This
Court held as under:

“24. In the light of various provisions of the Act  referred  to  above  and
the Rules in addition to various directions issued by this Court, we  hereby
direct all  the  State  Governments  and  the  Union  Territories  to  fully
implement the same and take appropriate  action  for  non-implementation  as
well as violation of the provisions contained in the Act 2013.  Inasmuch  as
the 2013 Act occupies the entire field, we are of the view that  no  further
monitoring is required by this Court. However, we once again reiterate  that
the duty is cast on all the  States  and  the  Union  Territories  to  fully
implement and to take action  against  the  violators.  Henceforth,  persons
aggrieved are permitted to approach the authorities concerned at  the  first
instance and thereafter the High Court having jurisdiction.”

13.   The Petitioners are at liberty to approach the  concerned  authorities
and thereafter the High Courts for redressal of their  grievances,  if  any.
In view of the aforesaid, the writ petition is disposed of. No cost.


                     .....…...........................CJI
                 [T. S. THAKUR]




........................................J
                           [Dr. D. Y. CHANDRACHUD]




                    ..……................................J
                                                   [L. NAGESWARA RAO]

New Delhi,
December 15, 2016

                                                              NON-REPORTABLE

                        IN THE SUPREME COURT OF INDIA

                        CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION

                      Civil Appeal No…12256.…… of 2016
                      (@ S.L.P. (C) No…37164… of 2016)
                          (@ C.C. No.19532 of 2011)

NATIONAL DALIT MOVEMENT FOR JUSTICE
                                                               Appellant (s)
                                   Versus

STATE OF MADHYA PRADESH & ORS.
                                                              Respondent (s)

                               J U D G M E N T

L. NAGESWARA RAO, J.

      Delay condoned.

      Leave granted.

      In terms of the order pronounced in W.P. (C) No.  140  of  2006,  this
Appeal also stands disposed of.  No cost.


                     .....…...........................CJI
                 [T. S. THAKUR]




........................................J
                           [Dr. D. Y. CHANDRACHUD]




                    ..……................................J
                                                    [L. NAGESWARA RAO]

New Delhi,
December 15, 2016

                           -----------------------
                                     [1]

        Annual Report 2014-15 National Commission for Scheduled Castes
[2]    International Convention on the Elimination of All  Forms  of  Racial
Discrimination,  Adopted  and  opened  for  signature  and  ratification  by
General Assembly resolution 2106 (XX) of 21 December 1965, entry into  force
4 January 1969, in accordance with Article 19

[3]    CERD General recommendation XXIX on article 1, paragraph  1,  of  the
Convention (Descent), A/57/18 (2002) 111

[4]    NHRC, Atrocities against Scheduled Castes, November 25, 2002
[5]    The Government  of  Andhra  Pradesh  had  appointed  Dr.  Justice  K.
Punnaiah, Retired Judge of  Andhra  Pradesh  High  Court  as  Single  member
Commission of enquiry to inquire into the  practice  of  Untouchability  and
atrocities against Scheduled Castes  and  Scheduled  Tries  and  to  suggest
measures for eradication of Untouchability and prevention of atrocities.
[6]    National SC/ST  Commission Report 2000-01

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