Implementation of the SCs&STs (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989 in Karnataka

Karnataka is among the top states in the number of atrocities against SCs and STs. According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) statistics, Karnataka ranks sixth in the country in the number of crimes against SCs and eighth in crimes against STs—though by population, Karnataka ranks ninth in the country. This means that there is a higher incidence of crimes against SCs and STs in the state than the nation.

Of the 30 districts in the state, 15 are declared ‘atrocity prone’ by the state government.

Implementation in Karnataka in 2010

Karnataka State Report on the
Implementation of the SCs&STs (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989 in Karnataka in 2010
With recommendations to the Chief Minister (Chairperson, SVMC under Rule 16(1)i)

Executive summary
The protection of the life and liberty of the weakest sections of society is the prime duty of any government. This report reviews the performance of the Government of Karnataka in discharge of its duties under the SCs&STs (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989 for the year 2010.

All this data are from government sources, available with the government and its designated officers. What is required therefore is the political will to follow through on its own recommendations, at the very least, to demonstrate its stated commitment to social justice and good governance.

Though there seems to be a quantitative change in recording crimes against SCs and STs (more registrations and less ‘B’ reports) a lot more needs to be done as the low conviction rates attest. Despite acknowledgement and even warning at the State Vigilance and Monitoring Committee, SVMC, implementation has been rather poor. Ensuring accountability of officials and ending impunity of perpetrators thus assumes utmost urgency.

The key findings of this report are:
Atrocities

• Gulbarga (old district) and Bengaluru City top the number of cases reported in the three years (2008–10 ).
• Mandya has seen a surge in number of cases reported and is second highest in 2010 with 87 cases (39 cases in 2009 and 29 cases in 2008).
• Hassan and Chickballapur are additions in the top ten, and the trend there shows a steep increase.
• Bangalore, Gulbarga, Bellary, Mysore, Bijapur, Kolar and Tumkur are consistently in the top ten.

Convictions
• In Tumkur—an atrocity prone district—101 cases were disposed off in 2010 without a single conviction by the special court (the judge in a special court is supposed to be sensitive with right aptitude.)
• Overall conviction rate is 5%; highest rate is 25%; 7 districts have 0% convictions in 2010.
• Gulbarga (325) and Bangalore Urban (209) have disposed off the highest number of cases with a conviction rate of just 2%.
• 11 Districts have reported an increase in the number of pending cases during the year. Overall pending cases have declined by 441 (from 2779 to 2338).

Wilful negligence (District level)
• The wilful negligence of both the SPPs and the police officials has been identified as a cause for low conviction rates by the DCRE and SVMC. ‘Investigation Officer is not giving witness in favour of witnesses in the courts’ and ‘more criminals would have been convicted if the Police had completed investigations within right time and also had Public Prosecutors argued appropriately in the courts’.
• Average number of DVMC meetings is 1 per annum (2008—10), vs the legal requirement of 4.
• Not even one district has fulfilled the legal norms for DVMC meetings.
• In Kolar—an atrocity prone district—there has been only one meeting in the last three years, even after warning by the chief minister at the last SVMC meeting.

Wilful negligence (State level) PoA and RTI
• The SVMC has not met in the designated months (January & July) even once in the last three years. It has met only once off schedule on 27 September 2010 and, despite promises, has not met subsequently either.
• The state government has neither prepared nor sent the annual report under rule 18 for 2009 or 2010.
• None of the departments concerned (Directorate of Public Prosecutions, Nodal Officer, DCRE or the Karnataka State Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes) have fulfilled their mandatory obligations under Section 4 (Sections 4(1), 4(2), 4(3) and 4(4)) of the Right to Information Act 2005.

The key recommendations of the report are:
Investigating officers

• The post of Deputy Superintendent of Police (DySP) should not be vacant in any district at any time since it directly affects the implementation of this Act as he is the primary authority for investigation.
• The Government of Karnataka can recommend to the Government of India that the law be amended so that the investigation can be done by any competent police officer under the supervision of the DySP.

Trials and administration of justice
• A government order (GO) has to be issued immediately clarifying Rule 4(5) that the services of the advocate of choice will be paid for by the state government and that the fee will be on the scale (including allowances) fixed by the government for Special Public Prosecutors under this Act. Wide publicity should be given to this provision so that the victims can avail the services of competent lawyers at the earliest, from the FIR stage itself.
• Set up exclusive special courts in all districts with judges with the right aptitude and understanding.
• Time bound completion of trials (within a year) are necessary.
• All 47 cases compromised since 2008 be reopened and prosecuted as admission of guilt.
• The TA, DA needs to be given to the victims, witnesses and dependents on the date of hearing itself.

Wilful negligence by officials
While prosecution of officials must be with utmost care, repeated dereliction of duty (of which there is ample evidence even in the SVMC minutes) should have zero tolerance.
• Officers responsible for lax implementation of the Act who are not SC or ST should be prosecuted under Section 4 of the Act and Para 17(2) of the judgement of the Supreme Court in Criminal Appeal no 959 of 2011 and adverse comments be noted in the ACR.
• Officers who are SC or ST should be proceeded against under departmental action with adverse comments in the ACR.

Wilful negligence (district level)
• The Chief Minister should take action against the officials responsible for convening and conducting the DVMC meeting under Section 4 of the Act since none have done so according to the law.
• Tahsildars who issued false Caste Certificates must be prosecuted under Section 4 PoA Act without delay.
• The District Commissioner of Kolar must be suspended and departmental action be taken against him for gross dereliction of duty even after being mentioned in the SVMC meeting.
• MPs and MLAs should personally and regularly attend the quarterly DVMC meetings.
• Scheduling the meetings at fixed calendar dates would help (for instance, the first of the first month of the quarter or, if that is a holiday, first working day of that month).

Wilful negligence by officials (state level)
• The Chief Minister should take action against the officials responsible for convening and conducting the SVMC meeting.
• The Chief Minister should take action against the officers responsible for preparation of the annual report.
• The annual reports must be prepared on a priority basis, and completed in time at least for the next SVMC meeting, due in January 2012.
• The State Nodal Officer under this Act should act immediately to ensure that the information, especially the periodic reports under this Act, is put in the public domain and updated in fixed timeframes.

Media Coverage of the release on 15 September 2011

http://www.dnaindia.com/bangalore/report_bangalore-ranks-third-in-atrocities-against-sc-sts_1588003

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/ktaka-pathetic-in-dealing-with-cases-against-sc-sts-study/847619/

http://www.financialexpress.com/news/karnataka-pathetic-in-dealing-with-cases-against-sc-sts-study/847603/0

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-karnataka/article2457707.ece

http://post.jagran.com/karnataka-pathetic-in-dealing-with-cases-against-scsts-study-1316177132

http://news.outlookindia.com/item.aspx?734987

http://www.sify.com/news/karnataka-pathetic-in-dealing-with-cases-against-sc-sts-news-national-ljsauheaffi.html

http://www.deccanherald.com/content/191426/atrocities-against-scsts-increasing-says.html

http://www.deccanherald.com/content/191313/karnataka-pathetic-dealing-cases-against.html

http://news.webindia123.com/news/Articles/India/20110916/1833329.html

http://suddi24x7.com/node/1044

http://www.newkerala.com/news/2011/worldnews-68300.html

http://www.megamedianews.in/index.php/33298/shobha-for-integration-of-scsts-in-mainstream/

http://ibnlive.in.com/news/shobha-for-integration-of-scsts-in-mainstream/184605-60-115.html

http://roundtableindia.co.in/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3695:bangalore-ranks-third-in-atrocities-against-scsts&catid=1:current-news&Itemid=103 (DNA reprint)

http://www.indiaeveryday.in/karnataka/news-bangalore-ranks-third-in-atrocities-against-scsts-1163-3039114.htm (DNA reprint)

http://newspolitan.com/forum/art/india/bangalore/GM3TGN30G64UCVCL (SIFY reprint)

http://www.indian-democracy.com/south-india/karnataka/karnataka-pathetic-in-dealing-with-cases-against-scsts-study/ (Deccan Herald reprint)

http://www.congoo.com/news/2011September16/Hardly-Conviction-Act-Study (Outlook India reprint)

http://ibnlive.in.com/generalnewsfeed/news/ktaka-pathetic-in-dealing-with-cases-against-scsts-study/825783.html (automated newsfeed)

http://wwww.desi-radio.com/listArtist_Shobha.php (news agregator)

For details: scstcmask@ gmail

Implementation in Karnataka in 2011 and 12

Karnataka State Summary Report on the Implementation of the SCs&STs (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989 in Karnataka in the calendar years 2011 and 2012
With recommendations to the Chief Minister (Chairperson, SVMC under Rule 16(1)i)

Findings
In Karnataka, there is one crime reported against the Scheduled Castes (SCs) or Scheduled Tribes (STs) every 5 hours. Almost every week sees an SC or ST person murdered (45 in 2012) and an SC or ST woman raped (47 in 2012). Bangalore City (126) and Tumkur (121) had the highest reported cases of atrocities in 2012. Tumkur was the highest (112) in 2011.
There is a sharp variation in performance of the police and prosecution. While the police have a charge sheeting rate of over 97%, the prosecution has a conviction rate of just 7%. Though the police rate of charge sheeting is marginally higher in the case of crimes against SCs and STs compared to other crimes, the conviction rate of the special public prosecutors (SPP) is drastically lower for crimes against SCs and STs (7%) than for other IPC crimes (31.5%). In the national average too, the Karnataka police have 2% higher charge sheeting rate for POA crimes than the national average for IPC and 7% higher charge sheeting compared to the rate for POA crimes, while the Karnataka prosecutors have an 85% less conviction rate than the national average for IPC crimes and 72% less than the national POA conviction rate.

Atrocities
There were 1632 crimes reported under the Act in 2010, 1757 in 2011 and 1762 in 2012. Data shows that the atrocities are increasing both in numbers and severity. Including IPC crimes, the increase is 5% in crimes against SCs and 31% in crimes against STs in 2012 compared to 2011.

The STs are facing the brunt of the increase. Rapes doubled (from 2 in 2011 to 4 in 2012) and murders tripled (3 to 9) for the STs between 2011 and 2012. There was one (1) kidnap and two (2) arson in 2012 and none in 2011, indicating increasing violence on the community.

For the SCs, murders have increased 16% (31 to 36) and rapes 34% (32 to 43). Robberies (67%), kidnapping (55%) and hurt (12%) have reduced. Other IPC crimes (15%) and PCRA (38%) crimes have increased.

Bangalore City and Belgaum are in the top four in the number of cases reported in all the three years. Mysore district has been at fifth position in 2010 and 2012 and seventh in 2011. Tumkur was first in 2011 and second in 2012. The conviction rates in Tumkur (which has an exclusive special court) is also disturbing (0% of 106 in 2011 and 3 of 47, 6% in 2012).
Overall, the state has seen an 8% increase in crime against the SCs and STs in 2012 over 2011. But this is varied, with Tumkur rising 73% (from 70 crimes in 2010 to 121 in 2012), and Bangalore city rising 48% (from 85 to 126). Eight districts have seen over 38% increase in crime, while 12 have shown a decrease in the period.

More cases are being registered and less ‘B’ reports are being filed. This could mean that the police are being more vigilant and sensitive or that complaints are not being accepted or registered under this Act. The state has a high, but reducing, ‘B’ report rate (22% in 2011, 14% in 2012). In 2012 six districts—Uttara Kannada (48%), Hubli-Dharwad (40%), Belgaum (38%), Dakshina Kannada (37%), Udupi (37%), and Kodagu (33%)—have more than a third of the cases not reaching the courts at all, being reported as ‘false’ or ‘mistake of fact’.

Convictions
Ten districts had zero convictions in 2011, and seven in 2012. Of them, four districts—Shimoga (87 cases), Raichur (78), Bangalore City (71) and Dharwad (50) have zero convictions in both 2011 and 2012. Tumkur disposed off 153 cases with just three convictions in both years combined (and nil convictions of 106 cases in 2011).

There is not much change in the rate of conviction, which remains at an abysmal 7% overall (2012) and 7 of 30 districts have 0% conviction rates. In 2011 it is even worse with 6% conviction rate and 10 of 30 districts having 0% convictions. The top six of eight districts that disposed off more than 100 cases had conviction rates at or below 7%. Gulbarga had the highest conviction rate (29% and 26%) in both the years.

The comparison with all India figures reveals a disturbing trend that the performance of the police (at least up to charge sheeting) is just a shade better than the national average, but the performance of the SPPs in the convictions is up to 86% less than the national average.

The low conviction rates remain a mystery since the Superintendent of Police (SP) himself makes a spot visit (Rule 12(1)) and ensures the FIR is filed (Rule 12(2)). The investigation is then done by a senior police officer, not below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police, who weeds out the ‘false’ or ‘mistake of fact’ cases.

District level
There is a sharp improvement in the number of state-level vigilance and monitoring committee (DVMC) meetings. Not even one DVMC had met quarterly in 2009 or 2010. In 2011 two districts (Tumkur and Belgaum), and in 2012 six districts (Bagalkote, Bangalore Rural, Chitradurga, Davanagere, Haveri and Uttara Kannada) met the legal requirement (Rule 17(3)).

There were no DVMC meetings in Chamaraja Nagar, Raichur, or Ramnagar in 2011. DVMC Kolar has not met even once in the last three years. This is gross dereliction of duty since Kolar is identified as an atrocity prone district by the state government.

State level
The state-level vigilance and monitoring committee (SVMC) has not met in the designated months (January and July, Rule 16 (2)) even once in the last five years. It has met only once off schedule in 27 September 2010 and despite promises, has not met subsequently either.

The SVMC has met only once instead of the required 12 times in the last six years (January 2007 to December 2012). One out of 12 in six years, and zero of four in the last two years is a gross failure under any benchmark.

Recommendations
Preventive

  1. The Karnataka State annual reports under the Act (Rule 18) show very poor numbers of police officers (18 from 3 districts in 2011) are being sensitised to the Act and Rules, and there is minimal involvement of civil society organisations (CSOs) in creating awareness. Full use may be made of the legal provisions in preventing atrocities.
  2. There is little disclosure of information on the status of implementation of the Act, even though it is mandatory under RTI 2005. This is despite the requests made by civil society for disaggregated data and providing formats for statutory disclosure. The light of transparency is often enough to clear the cobwebs of lethargy. Comprehensive, disaggregated data can be disclosed suo moto.

Investigations

  1. Some investigations still are unduly long. They must be done within 30 days as mandated [7(2)].
  2. Threat assessment needs to be done proactively by the police and protection provided to victim, witnesses and their dependents.

Convictions
The worst performance is seen in the administration of justice.

  1. With the conviction rate being 7%, the DPP has to have a better system of review in place. SPPs of 7 districts have not won a single case in 2012. In 2011 SPPs in 10 districts did not win a single case.
  2. The details of the performance of each Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) should be disclosed by the DPP in its annual disclosure under Rule 4 of the Right to Information Act 2005.
    This should include at minimum (i) Number of cases appeared (ii) number of cases ending in conviction (iii) Number of accused in charge sheet (iv) Number convicted.
  3. Long pendency in the courts has been identified as a reason for victims and witnesses turning hostile, and consequently low conviction rates. For better administration of justice, exclusive special courts should be established in all the 30 districts. At present there are only 7 special courts, and all the others are designated courts.
  4. Officials (police, SPPs, civil servants and judges) with the right aptitude and understanding should be posted in all positions of administration of justice.

District level

  1. Take departmental action against the DC Kolar for gross dereliction of duty even after being mentioned in the SVMC meeting for not conducting a meeting for three years.
  2. In addition, prosecute DC Kolar and all concerned district officers under Section 4 of the Act and Para 17 of the judgement of the Supreme Court in Criminal Appeal 959 of 2011 and note adverse comments in the annual confidential report (ACR).
  3. Schedule the DVMC meeting on fixed calendar dates.
  4. Appoint NGOs in each district to run awareness centres, conduct workshops and assist the victim-survivors, witnesses, dependents, the community and the government machinery, and provide them necessary financial and other sort of assistance [3(ix)].

State level

  1. The Chief Minister (as chairman, SVMC) should ensure that the SVMC meetings are convened and conducted on time (January and July each year).
  2. The new contingency plan should be issued immediately, taking into account the enhanced compensation norms.
  3. Conduct mass training and awareness programmes for the police, judicial officers (judges, lawyers and DPP) and DVMC members.
  4. Immediately issue a notification to clarify that legal fees in all cases will be borne by the state. That is to rectify the wrong translation by the state government publication of Rule 4(5).

The report is also available in Kannada with the full monitoring tools (single case, district and state) using the right to information. You can see the initial pages here followed by the full report (including the tools) here

The full English report can be downloaded from here (rtf) and here (doc).

Karnataka Chief Minister DVS Gowda embarrased on non-implementation (2012)

Chief minister DV Sadananda Gowda on Saturday faced some embarrassing moments when he was prevented by agitating dalits from garlanding the statue of Dr BR Ambedkar on his 121st birth anniversary.

After three years of active follow up on the implementation of the SC/ST POA in the state ‘The Committee Monitoring and Strengthening SCs and STs (Prevention of Atrocities) Act in Karnataka- CMASK a citizens group had decided to draw the attention of the Chief Minister (CM) on virtual non-implementation of the Act by handing over a file on the same to the CM during the Ambedkar Jayanti celebrations on 14th April 2012 at Vidhan Souda.

The CM asked for dialogue before protest. The fact is that there have been numerous requests given in writing to the CM requesting an appointment since November 2011—for 5 months! The CM has not even acknowledged the letters, let alone given an appointment. Before masking falsehood with smiles, the CM should face the fact that his office is closed to Dalits 24x7.

As a final attempt, at 10am a group of about 150 Dalit activists joined the state level celebrations near the Ambedkar statue at Vidhan Souda. When they attempted to handover the file to the CM as a mark of protest, eight of them were arrested, beaten and taken to the Vidhan Souda police station at 10.30 am. Those arrested include (in order of arrest): Suguna, Pradeep, Mythrikar, Nagaraj, Yashoda, Siddaraju, Sunil and Prashant. They were neither allowed to handover the file nor garland Baba Saheb Ambedkar's statue.

Arrested by ACP Devraj Gowda they were taken to the Vidhan Souda police station where DCP Ravi Kant Gowda and CI Laxman Kumar made the enquiry. After dilly dallying, the police promised to release them without charge. Then the writer of the Vidhan Souda police station started harassing them for information. They were then to be taken to the judge to record their statements, but finally by afternoon they were brought to Ashok Nagar police station. Here the writer from Vidhan Souda police station again started harassing them asking them to sign blank bail applications. As one of them signed, others protested. The writer then threatened them with dire consequences and that they would be booked under serious sections. They were denied any food and water and their camera snatched away. Finally they were told that they were booked under sections: 143, 147 and 149, but they were not given a copy of the FIR. They were given a station bail and released at 5.30pm 14th April on the intervention of their advocate.

We once again call for the CM to implement the SCs and STs (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989, hold the SVMC meeting, remove investigating officers, advocates and Special Public Prosecutors with zero and near zero percent convictions, and ensure that the mandatory monitoring reports are tabled before the State and District Level Vigilance and Monitoring Committees. The shameful record of Karnataka with less than 5% convictions, and nil compliance on reports for the past three years, is a bolt on the state and its commitment to social justice.

Media reports
http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/city/bangalore/DV-Sadananda-Gowda-faces-dalit-ire-at-function/articleshow/12668956.cms

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-karnataka/article3316503.ece

http://www.deccanherald.com/content/242203/talk-you-stage-protest-sadananda.html

SCs and STs (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Ordinance 2014

Key features of the ordinance

  1. Addition of following new category of offences to the existing 19 punishable offences. In addition to the 19 offences listed in the Act, following new offences proposed. To cite a few: tonsuring of head, moustache, or similar acts which are derogatory to the dignity of Dalits and Adivasis; garlanding with chappals; denying access to irrigation facilities or forest rights ; dispose or carry human or animal carcasses, or to dig graves; using or permitting manual scavenging; dedicating Dalit women as devadasi; abusing in caste name; perpetrating witchcraft atrocities; imposing social or economic boycott; preventing Dalit and Adivasi candidates filing of nomination to contest elections; hurting the modesty of Dalit/Adivasi woman by removing her garments; forcing to leave house , village or residence; defiling objects sacred to SCs and STs; touching a women or uses words, acts or gestures of a sexual nature against women.
  2. Addition of IPC offences attracting committed against Dalits or Adivasis as punishable offences under the POA Act. Presently, only those offences listed in IPC as attracting punishment of 10 years or more and committed on Dalits/ Adivasis are accepted as offences falling under the POA Act. A number of commonly committed offences (hurt, grievous hurt, intimidation, kidnapping etc.) are excluded from the Act. This provides loopholes for the perpetrators of crime to escape from being punished for these commonly committed crimes. Therefore a Schedule of list of IPC offences is provided in the amended act.
  3. Establishment of Exclusive Special Courts and Special Public Prosecutors to exclusively try the offences falling under the POA Act to enable speedy and expeditious disposal of cases. Presently, Special Courts and Public Prosecutors also deal with other cases besides atrocity cases. Consequently, cases are kept pending for long time. Thus victims are denied justice or speedy justice. Establishment of an Exclusive Special Court for one or more districts and Exclusive Public Prosecutor is proposed;
  4. Power of Exclusive Courts to take cognizance of offence and completion of trial in 2 months. Courts so established or specified shall have power to directly take cognizance of offences under this Act and the trial shall, as far as possible, be completed within a period of two months from the date of filing of the charge sheet.
  5. Addition of chapter on the ‘Rights of Victims and Witnesses’. As of now, the Act recognizes a few rights of the victims and witnesses. This is insufficient. Therefore many other essential rights are covered so as to impose duty and responsibility upon the State for making arrangements for the protection of victims, their dependants and witnesses against any kind of intimidation, coercion or inducement or violence or threats of violence.
  6. Defining clearly the term ‘wilful negligence’ of public servants at all levels, starting from the registration of complaint, and covering aspects of dereliction of duty under this Act. Section 4 of the present Act does not clearly define what constitutes ‘wilful negligence’ of public servants. Hence, ‘wilful negligence’ is defined by listing specific transgressions of law: for example, police officers not putting down accurately in writing the victim’s complaint; not reading out to the victims what has been recorded prior to getting their signature; not registering FIR under the Act; not registering it under appropriate sections of the Act; etc.
  7. Addition of presumption to the offences –If the accused was acquainted with the victim or his family, the court will presume that the accused was aware of the caste or tribal identity of the victim unless proved otherwise.

Download the ordinance from here.

Tools to monitor the Implementation of the SCs&STs (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989

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The implementation of the SCs and STs (PoA) Act 1989 and Rules 1995 can be tracked systematically by the precise provisions of the Act and Rules.

Given below are the entire set of documents that go from the Act to the Rules and then the tools to monitor this Act. They will tell you all you need to know in a practical, step by step guide.

Use the set along with the Right to Information Act 2005 (RTI).

Download the whole set and use!

  1. The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989
  2. The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Rules 1995
  3. The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Rules Amendment 2013 (Setting up sub-divisional vigilance and monitoring committees, including the panchayat representatives, with the sub-divisional magistrate as the chair, the block development officer as member secretary and three central government appointed NGO representatives).
  4. Enhanced Relief Norms as of 23 June 2014.
  5. Additional relief given by the Ambedkar foundation for heinous crimes.
  6. Simple POA tracking system (How to monitor the implementation of the Act with respect to one case right from the police station to the district and state level).
  7. Monitoring calendar (single page).
  8. Monitoring calendar (Detailed).
  9. POA and IPC sections (equivalence table).
  10. How to give evidence in court.
  11. Roles and responsibilities of the District Vigilance and Monitoring Committees (DVMCs).
  12. Monitoring the State Vigilance and Monitoring Committees (SVMCs).
  13. A few monitoring formats.
  14. Responsibilities of the SCs and STs Protection Cell (Karnataka state police manual).

Write to scstcmask@gmail.com or training@openspace.org.in for training in using the tools.