SC/ST Act: Karnataka HC flags infrequent committee meetings, inadequate information; Orders State to furnish data on pending cases

The Bench also directed the State to produce year-wise information indicating the number of cases in which compensation was actually disbursed to victims.
SC/ST Act: Karnataka HC flags infrequent committee meetings, inadequate information; Orders State to furnish data on pending cases
High Court of Karnataka, KJ George

The Karnataka High Court recently ordered the State government to furnish details about the cases registered in Karnataka under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act [SC/ST Act] which are still pending.

A Division Bench of Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Vishwajith Shetty also sought data on the number of cases registered under the Act which had resulted in acquittal/discharge/conviction.

The court ordered,

"Now coming to the compliance made by the State, it is necessary to have clarity about the pendency of cases. It will be appropriate if the State Government furnishes to the Court, a year-wise chart indicating number of offences registered under the said Act of 1989 in that particular year, number of cases in which charge sheets have been filed, number of cases which are still pending investigation, number of cases in which orders of acquittal/discharge have been passed, number of cases in which orders of acquittal/discharge have been challenged and number of cases which resulted in conviction of the accused."

The report by State should include data from the year 2015 upto the end of October 2020, the court specified.

Along with the report, the court also directed the State to furnish a list of cases in which stay had been granted.

These directions were passed by the Bench in a plea seeking the proper implementation of various provisions of the SC/ST Act and its Rules.

The Bench further remarked that there was serious laxity when it came to holding meetings of various committees under the SC/ST Act and Rules

The court noted that after 2017, the meeting of the State Level Vigilance and Monitoring Committee was held for the first time on November 11 this year, after it was reconstituted on October 12.

Same was the case with the High Power Vigilance and Monitoring Committee,the court lamented. Referring to Rule 16 (2) of the SC/ST Rules, the Bench observed that meetings of the said committee should be held at least twice in a year - in the months of January and July - in order to review the implementation of the provisions of the SC/ST Act.

Infrequency in the meetings held by the District Level Vigilance and Monitoring Committee as well as the sub-divisional level vigilance and monitoring committees was also noted by the Bench.

The court, thus, ordered the State government to ensure that all the said committees conduct a minimum number of meetings as required by the Rules.

With regard to the compensation payable to the victims of offences under the SC/ST Act, the court opined that the information provided by the State government was inadequate.

It, therefore, directed the State to produce year-wise information indicating the number of cases in which compensation was actually disbursed by the State to victims.

This apart, the court asked the State government to place on record whether any effort is being made to implement the "Contingency Plan" as mentioned in the Act.

High Court of Karnataka, KJ George
Karnataka HC issues notice in plea seeking proper implementation of SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act provisions in State

The matter will be heard next on November 30.

[Read order]

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