New Delhi - As many members from the Dalit and Adivasi communities continue to fight against their oppressors, the only thing they can hope for from the government is the relief that is supposed to be provided. According to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989; victims of inter-community crimes are not only given monetary relief but also socio-economic rehabilitation. Unfortunately, neither the compensation is provided in a timely manner, nor is there any particular data about the rehabilitation.
The first-of-its-kind 'Citizen's Audit of the Union Report under Section 21(4) of The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989,' exposes the disappointing reality that there is no accountability for the various measures of the law. The report uncovers a clear, ignorant stance by the states and the center. The report was made by Citizen's Vigilance and Monitoring Committee (CVMC) which was released on 14th October.
Relief must be paid within 7 days of the due date in Rule 12(4) Schedule Annexure 1, and in the contingency plan [Rule 15(1)]. Most of the time, it is generally paid in three tranches - about 25% on registering the FIR, 50% when the charge-sheet is sent to court, and 25% on conviction.
Depending on the sections invoked, some of the relief is released on receipt of the medical certificate (for acid attacks, crimes under IPC 326B, 376B, and 376C, disability or incapacitation, rape or gang rape) or post-mortem report (murder or death). For some crimes [Section 3(1)(w) and Section 3(2)(va) depending on the IPC sections], the final 25% is paid at the end of the trial, irrespective of the outcome (acquittal, discharge, or conviction).
Citizen's Audit claims that only 7.75% of the relief was given within the stipulated time in 2021. Though it's an increase from 5.56% in 2020, it is a clear indication that the district magistrates - all IAS officers - are not using the money at their disposal to provide relief on time to over 92% of the victims.
Socio-economic rehabilitation is in addition to instant monetary relief. These must be completed within three months according to Rule 12(4) Schedule Annexure 1 #46.
Socio-economic rehabilitation includes the following: • Allotment of agricultural land and house sites • Scheme for employment in government or government undertaking for the dependent or one of the family members of the victim • Pension scheme for widows, dependent children of the deceased, handicapped, or old-age victims of atrocity • Mandatory compensation for the victims • Scheme for strengthening the socio-economic condition of the victim • Provisions for providing brick/stone masonry houses to the victims
According to P.S. Krishnan, the former member Secretary of the National Commission of Backward Classes, an overall rehabilitation is very important. The objective of strengthening the socioeconomic condition of the victim is to ensure that they and their families are provided with full financial and other support to become permanently economically self-reliant without having to seek wage employment from their very oppressors and classes of oppressors.
The report states, “It is incumbent on the state to immediately take over the education of the children of such families in the best schools and colleges of their choice, available fully at state cost, including the cost of their food and maintenance. Similarly, every survivor's family should be given a permanent government/quasi-government job of the highest level appropriate to their educational qualifications in the government or other public sector organization (at least at the Group D or Class IV level if they have no educational qualifications at all). If there is no vacancy, a supernumerary post should be deemed to have been created forthwith for their appointment. The appointment will be with effect from the date of the atrocity.”
From 2017-2021, the Citizen's Audit of the SC/ST Atrocities Act reports that 27,724 victims are eligible for rehabilitation. This is most certainly an undercount since those permanently incapacitated are not included as a separate list. The list includes the victims of rape, murder, and dacoity. Madhya Pradesh has the highest number of victims in 2021, with 5,153 victims, followed by Uttar Pradesh. UP has 4,001 victims in 2021 alone.
But the data in the state annual report does not track how many job appointments have been given, the houses and agricultural land allotted, nor the children being supported. Equally important, even the data presented is not correlated with the crime data to verify how many are eligible. At the very minimum, according to the data, in the last five years alone within three months of the heinous atrocities, the victims, dependents, and families should have received a minimum of 27,724 pensions, 27,724 government jobs, 27,724 houses with homestead land, and a minimum of 27,724 children (most certainly an undercount at one child per family) should be enrolled on their way to graduation. But there is no data to corroborate the claims.