Wednesday, June 6, 2012

NHRC public hearing in Tamil Nadu on complaints of atrocities against Scheduled Castes

NHRC public hearing in Tamil Nadu on complaints of atrocities against Scheduled Castes
New Delhi, 6th June, 2012
A delegation of the National Human Rights Commission headed by Mr. Justice K.G. Balakrishnan will be at Chennai in Tamil Nadu from 7th to 9th August, 2012 to take up at a 'public hearing' the complaints relating to atrocities against Scheduled Castes and the problems faced by them in seeking justice from the State Government agencies. Complaints of atrocity or discrimination by a public servant against Scheduled Castes or of negligence by a public servant in prevention thereof may be sent to the Commission by Registered Post or by Speed Post at the following address:
National Human Rights Commission, 
Faridkot House, 
Copernicus Marg, 
New Delhi-110001

The complaints should reach the Commission latest by 25th June, 2012.
Such complaints as are deemed fit for enquiry shall be taken up at the public hearing. The parties shall be informed in due course about the date and venue of public hearing.
The Commission after the 'public hearing' will also meet with the representatives of NGOs and hold discussions with the Chief Secretary, DGP and senior civil, police and jail officials on the issues of human rights violations.
The Commission has decided to hold such open hearings to reach out to the Dalits and hear their complaints about violations of their rights by the public authorities as part of the recommendations given by Mr. K.B. Saxena, IAS(Retd) in his report commissioned by the NHRC on the continuing problems faced by the Scheduled Castes .
The report is available on the NHRC website: Among the recommendations Mr. Saxena made was one that the Commission organise at least one open hearing a year "where the victims of major atrocities can present their experiences and grievances in seeking justice from Government agencies and human rights bodies/non-governmental organizations/social workers and activists may apprise the Commission of difficulties encountered by them in taking up their complaints. In the interaction with the State Government subsequent to the hearing, the Commission may convey its observations and advice on various actions to be taken for effective enforcement of law, sustaining confidence of victims and, where required, looking into the conduct of officials coming in for adverse reference during the hearing. The follow up action on the hearings may be monitored."
This will be the third 'open hearing' of complaints on the grievances of members of Schedules Castes and representatives of prominent NGOs of the State. Prior to this two 'open hearings' have been held in April and May, 2012 in Odisha and Gujarat respectively.
The National Human Rights Commission, set up under the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993 with a mandate to promote and protect human rights in the country, has always paid particular attention to the needs of the weakest sections of Indian society, among whom the Scheduled Castes are among the most vulnerable. Their human rights have been systematically violated for centuries, and, despite the protection now formally afforded to them by the Constitution and the law, including the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, they continue to suffer discrimination, while their socio-economic condition remains a matter of the gravest concern. 
Special care is both needed and justified for them, and therefore the Commission takes suo motu cognizance of reports of atrocities committed against or problems faced by these communities, deals on priority with complaints it receives of human rights violations committed against them and works closely with other key stakeholders, including the NGOs who champion their cause, to try to get them justice and to bring them redress.
Because the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes suffer from a prejudice that is so deeply entrenched, both the general public and public servants need to be made aware of the scale of the problem, and of their responsibilities under the law to protect and promote their rights. The Commission therefore holds regular training programmes and workshops, and has published booklets, to encourage all stakeholders to work together to ensure that there are no atrocities committed on these communities, that there is no discrimination against them, or any other violation of their human rights.