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)
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:
• 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.
• 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:
• 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://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