Dalit Sthree Sakthi in association with NDMJ has conducted a two day Legal Clinic on 3rd & 4th February 2014 at St Anns Generalate, Hyderabad. Ambedkar and Savitribai Phule photos were garlanded followed by self introduction by the participants. Jhansi Geddam Convener of DSS has detailed about the 2 days program and explained about the objective of the legal clinic. She said the focus will be on:
22 cases have been selected, thorough documentation done case wise, the gaps and present status of the case has been stated
Advocates from respective districts including high court advocates have been identified to render necessary assistance.
Linking up victims, witnesses, HRDs, advocates and line departments
Appointment of SPPs as per the choice of victims
Payment of compensation, rehabilitation, TA,DA etc
Speedy investigation, trial, increase conviction rate
Jhansi has said that after listening to the agony of the victims and witnesses of the 22 cases, the interventions of HRDs, identify the gaps, the legal support required and the future course of action need to be planned with the advocates. Similarly we need to chalk out the recommendations on the whole for the effective implementation of the Act, place them before the officials and insist for necessary action.
She stated that the selected cases are at various stages from investigation till judgment. There are victims who have been attending for the past 2 to 5 years seeking justice.She
called up on everybody to burn as a fire and to turn their tears in to fire. We need to see that the advocates are in the district panels to take up these cases. All the victims and witnesses present here know about earlier workshops but this one is a bit different from them.
NDMJ representative Abhirami addressing the victims said their organization works like DSS
at national level from fact finding till judgment. She said that they have been doing so since for the past 10 years and their interventions in the courts are minimal. Saying about the conviction rate it is more than 35% in IPC and very less in SC,ST cases. She said that to understand the situation in the special courts a study was done in 5 states and the findings are as follows:
ü Victims not allowed to sit inside the courts
ü Victims doesn’t know that they have SPPs
ü SPPs force for compromise
ü SPPs never give orientation to victims and witnesses and demand for bribes
Therefore we are looking for dalit advocates to be appointed as SPPs to render all assistance to the victims and witnesses and access justice to them.
Jajula Gowri advocate of High Court has said that she has been practicing for the past 8 years.
In general most of us attempt to the case at the initial stage and later we all disappear. Unless and until we follow up the cases from FIR till judgment, we can’t access justice, hence most of the cases are closed as false or the judgment is given as acquittal. This legal clinic is the need of the hour and this process will definitely strengthen the victims and witnesses and take the cases towards the logical end. She assured to get involved in this process and render all sorts of assistance from her side.
Advocate Shyamala has said that she is from an activist back ground and has work with
Jhansi in many fact findings. She said that Jhansi is known for her courage and commitment and she is a role model to us apart from inspiration. She said that the humiliation she faced by a police officer during registration of a case made her to pursue law. In due course she has turned up in to an advocate and has been concentrating much on juvenile cases. She promised to take up the juvenile cases and other legal assistance.
Later the victims and witnesses of 22 cases narrated their agony and the support they are looking for. The cases presented are:
1. Triveni (12) – Gang Rape and Murder
2. Daarla Durga (8) – Rape
3. Idugullapalli – Attack
4. Pambalagudem – Mass Attack
5. Narendra Devi (17) – Cheating
6. Punadipadu – Murder
7. Hima Bindu (20) – Cheating
8. J Kumari (16) – Kidnap & Rape
9. Sandhya (17) & Naga Laxmi (18)– Kidnap and Rape
10. Kappiri Divya (12)– Rape and Murder
11. Bepala Ajitha (5) – Rape
12. Chenvelli – Mass Attack
13. Dusarakunta Thanda – Mass Attack
14. Baghya Sri (17)– Abetment to Suicide
15. Renuka (14)– Abetment to Suicide
16. E Swarna Kumari (29)– Sexual Harassment
17. Savarapu Lavanya (11)– Attempt to Rape
18. P Nagamani (35)– Mass Attack
19. Mulagapudi – Mass Attack on Dalits
20. Lalitha Bai (14)– Death Due to Acid Attack
21. Ch Mounika (18)– Sexual Exploitation & Cheating
22. Veerlupalli – Mass Attack & Social Boycott
After the narration of each victim, GDV Prakash Program Manager of DSS explained in detail about the interventions of DSS such as fact finding, registration of case with proper sections, arrest of the accused, compensation, follow up of investigation, filing of charge sheet, strengthening the victims and witnesses, follow up of trials, assisting in arguments, appeals, representations to state actors and commissions, public actions, press meets etc. He also made power point presentations of few interventions including the video recording of witnesses, similarly he stated the present status of the case and the legal assistance required.
In the last session the advocates interacted with the victims of respective districts along with the HRDs and went through the case documents, made a thorough analysis, the legal implications and finalized the required interventions.
Later all have come together and formulated the below mentioned recommendations to put forth before the concerned departments for further action:
To appoint Special Public Prosecutors as per victims choice in all 22 cases covering 6 districts as per Rule 4(5)of SC/ST PoA Rules 1995
To strengthen victims and witnesses by organizing awareness meetings in every district through Legal Services Authority.
To avoid Stays and Quashes in High courts and ensure that existing Stays and Quashes are vacated
To release pending compensation and rehabilitation to the victims of all these 22 cases
To distribute land to the Victims and family members of the deceased under SCSP/TSP Act
To immediately sanction the pensions to the victims of Rape and cheating in the name of love as per new GO
To release a white paper on atrocity cases by Government
To maintain segregated data related to the violence against dalit women and dalit girl children cases
To register cases under Sec 4 of SC/ST (PoA) Act for willful negligence of duties for instance in Triveni and Darla Durga cases
Special courts to exclusively conduct trial of SC/ST (PoA) Act cases
To establish separate homes for the victims of atrocities
To pay TA, DA to the victims and witnesses as per law
To conduct Vigilance and Monitoring Committee meetings regularly
To ensure speedy trial to render justice to the victims
Sri GDV Prakash Program Managerwelcomed all the dignitaries on the second day of the legal clinic.Garlanding of Ambedkar and Savitribai Phule photos was done by Sri Raghuram
– Joint Director SWD and Sri Subrahmanyam & Ravoof, Joint Directors - Director of Prosecutions. The conference was presided over by Sri Jhansi Geddam Convener of DSS. Other dignitaries were social welfare department team of 9 members comprising of joint directors and deputy directors was headed by Commissioner Sri Jayalaxmi IAS, PCR Cell(Police Dept) team of 9 members comprising 3 DSPs, 5 Inspectors headed by DIG Sri A Sundar Kumar Das IPS, the Director of Prosecutions team of 6 members comprising of 3 Joint Directors, 2 Public Prosecutors of Special Courts headed by Director of Prosecutions Sri Ch Vidyasagar Rao and Sri R Subba Rao IAS from State SC Commission.
Jhansi Geddam Convener of DSS explaining about the objective of Legal Clinic said that every year DSS organizes Round Table Conference or Public Hearing and present the victims and witnesses of 20 to 30 cases before the jury constituted with Social Welfare Department, Director of Prosecutions, PCR Cell (Police), Women & Child Welfare Department, State & National SC Commissions, Print and Electronic Media, Academicians and Intellectuals. These are conducted amongst hundreds of public and advocacy & lobby is done based on the recommendations of the jury. This year legal clinic has been organized for 2 days and yesterday we thoroughly examined the documents and the status of each case with victims, witnesses, human rights defenders and advocates of respective areas. The required penal and pecuniary follow up was assessed. The support required for the victims and witnesses’ case wise is being placed before the Social Welfare Department, Director of Prosecutions and the PCR Cell for further assistance such as speedy investigation, payment of compensation, speedy trial etc. Later their agony was presented in detailed by the victims and witnesses and through power point presentation. The concerned officers were enlightened on the present scenario of atrocities on dalits. The recommendations formulated on the first day were detailed to them and demanded for necessary action. The responses from various officers are as follows:
Sri Abhirami from NDMJ said that they are working on atrocities in 12 states and by and large in every state the victims of atrocity are facing more difficulties to get justice.Many cases are not being registered, if at all registered; they are registered under IPC sections.
Similarly the victims are facing many problems in accessing compensation. A study on the special courts has revealed that the PPs are not giving ample time to the victims and witnesses and in the states of Jharkhand & Rajasthan the PPs are not allowing the dalits into the court due to caste mindset. They make the victims to wait outside saying that they only will come out and inform them. Further the PPs are failing to give orientation for the victims and witnesses to depose the statements. The PPs fail to give information on the status of the case, demand for more bribes. The conviction rate of IPC cases is 38% where as it is only 8% in atrocity cases. To increase the conviction rate and render justice to the victims we need to ensure that dalits are appointed as special PPs. Similarly process like this Legal Clinic was done in other states and all the victims have said that they are not receiving TA/DA. We need to bring our own PPs, take the help of DHRDs and this sort of process has already been started in other states. The victims will get confidence when the PPs of their choice are appointed without fail and will access justice.
Sri Raghuram – Joint Director of SWD has appreciated DSS for organizing the 2 day legal clinic on atrocity cases for accessing justice to the victims. They have done a through
examination of the cases, worked on even the minute details, identified the gaps department wise and brought out all the details of these 22 cases in the form of a book. All the issues brought out by DSS are very important, for instance speedy trial and payment of compensation. Our intention is not to pay compensation, but to prevent atrocities. Unfortunately due to devilish behavior in our society atrocities are committed. To curtail atrocities we all need to work together. We as SWD ensure the payment of relief, compensation and rehabilitation as specified in the Act through the Collectors. These benefits are paid in stages of after FIR, charge sheet, medical reports and the remaining portion after the completion of trial or judgment as specified in the Act. The compensations have been increased from 1st April 2012 starting from a minimum of Rs 60,000/- to a maximum of Rs. 5,00,000/-. As stated by DSS the first stage of compensation is being paid immediately as per the norms such as post mortem reports and medical tests etc. The next stage of compensation is being delayed a lot, hence to avoid this delay we will take the suggestions given by the state level officers present in this meeting. Similarly the rehabilitation in the form of jobs, pensions, houses, and agriculture land has not been done in most of the cases and assured that necessary orders will be issued for the immediate payment of rehabilitation. Amount regarding the payment of TA/ DA has been released to the Collectors and instructions have been given to release part of the amount to the SPs. Where ever necessary Collectors can appoint advocates to assist the PPs and budget for this purpose has been released. Our concerned district officials such as DDs and JDs of the respective districts are present in this legal clinic and definitely they will take forward all the issues raised here by DSS.
Sri R Subba Rao IAS from SC Commission has said that DSS in association with NDMJ organizing this legal clinic for accessing justice is a great effort. All the 22 cases presented
in this legal clinic have been brought to the commissions notice in the form of representations after thorough fact finding by DSS. Letters have been sent to the concerned district officers based on the findings of DSS. Ambedkar has provided Art 17 in the constitution which says untouchbility is an offence. To curtail untouchbility, Untouchbility offences Act 1955 came in to force and later the name of the same Act was changed to Prevention of Civil Rights Act. Strictly speaking, the justice rendered through this Act is nil. Due to the provision of reservation many people belonging to the scheduled caste and scheduled tribes have attained jobs, similarly due to the schemes provided by the government the dalits have developed and have started to assert their rights. In this process atrocities have increased against them and it has lead to a powerful dalit movement across the country. Ultimately the central government had to yield to the pressure and bring in SC,ST (PoA) Act 1989 and Rules 1995. As stated by the earlier speakers the conviction rate is above 35% in IPC cases where as it is very low in the atrocity cases as the accused manage all the departments resulting to acquittal. Two days back the chief justice has instructed the state government on the implementation of Sec 4 against the willful negligence of the duty bearers .The efforts of DSS are appreciable and we all, especially SWD need to join our hands together and support in their endeavor to put an end to atrocities.
Sri D Madhusudhan Rao DD, SWD-Krishna District has said that in many cases the police are insisting for caste certificates and delaying the registration or investigation of the cases. Similarly the MROs are issuing certificates as BC ‘C’ thus helping the accused to escape. Police and revenue departments are responsible for the implementation of the Act, therefore coordination between them is necessary and they also need to act immediately.
The officials of police and revenue departments are raising many doubts during the implementation of the Act and thus delaying the registration or investigation of the cases. Therefore the Collectors and SPs need to provide training on the Act, clarify the doubts and issue circulars for effective implementation of the Act. During the trials the PPs and the caste elders together are forcing the victims to become hostile by luring amount. We need to curtail such things and render justice to the victims. On behalf of Krishna district administration we assure to take forward all the suggestions and thank DSS for organizing such a wonderful informatic program.
Sri Ch Vidyasagar Rao, Director of Prosecutions has appreciated DSS and NDMJ for taking up
this program. The cases presented in the jury kit are very detailed and some are pending at the investigation level and some in the courts. We participated in many review meetings at state and national level and Sri Subba Rao of SC Commission was also present. The cases pending in the courts are reviewed on a monthly basis at state level, as well as by the joint directors during their visits to the districts. Instructions are given to the PPs of special courts. During our reviews special focus is laid on the atrocity cases to ensure justice to the victims. We are also giving necessary recommendations for the appointment of advocates as PPs where ever the victims are asking for it, and ensure that they give the necessary assistance to the victims. He has requested DSS to bring to their notice where ever there are complaints on the PPs. He said that they have regular interaction with DSS; the issues brought to their notice were resolved and have also expressed their willingness to help by all means for the appointment of advocates as SPPs. The Collectors should always have a panel of advocates as mentioned in the Act so that whenever the victims ask for PPs they can be appointed immediately instead of referring to DoP. Similarly the DoP is deputing the PPs to CID, help them in investigation in many important cases. He has appreciated DSS for holding such a wonderful interactive session to bring coordination among all of us to access justice to the victims and has promised to render support by all manners to the victims in getting conviction.
Sri A Sundar Kumar Das IPS-DIG PCR Cellsaid we got our constitution on 26th January 1950 and Art 17 of the constitution says about prohibition of untouchbility.When we look for the untouchables it is only the scheduled caste that is treated as the untouchables.Five years after the Indian constitution we got the Untouchbility Offences Act 1955. As it was not
not effective we got the PCR Act. PCR Act is basically a civil Act and much focus is on the violation of the civil rights such as prohibiting fetching water, not allowing using the streets and roads, denial of temple entry etc. The complainants are clubbing the provisions of PCR Act and when the case is registered under SC, ST PoA Act, the police will refer it as false in the course of investigation. Therefore we need to be careful while giving a complaint. While reviewing the case in Cuddapah district, the I O said as the caste certificate was not issued by the MRO, the investigation is pending. Hence case was booked under Sec 4 of SC, ST (PoA) Act on the MRO and the RI. Many times we have summoned the DSPs/ACPs for not taking necessary action in atrocity cases. Therefore I request all the people present here to take necessary precautions while giving a complaint so that the PCR Act and PoA Act are not clubbed.
Program Manager of DSS sharing about the study report has said it was done the implementation of SC,ST (PoA) Act by police department, social welfare department and judiciary in the districts of East Godavari, West Godavari, Guntur, Hyderabad and Ranga Reddy for the years 2010, 2011 and 2012. Data was collected from all the police stations in the five districts and the available data from the five special courts. He thanked the PCR cell and the public prosecutors of the special courts for giving the data. Briefly explaining about the findings he said that in more than 70 % of the cases the investigation was not completed within 90 days and there are very few cases for which the investigation was completed within 30 days. More than 50% of the cases are closed as false; the conviction rate is very low where as the acquittal rate is very high. TA,DA to the victims has not been paid anywhere and similarly compensation is pending for many cases. Stay by the high court is given due to the negligence of the police and proper measures are not being taken to get the stays vacated. The period of trial is also lengthy that many cases are pending in the special courts as they are dealing with many other cases.
“Law In Action – A Report” pertaining to A study with reference to implementation of SC,ST PoA Act 1989 in Andhra Pradesh was released by Sri Jaya Laxmi – Commissioner of Social Welfare Department and the first copy was given to the mother of the deceased Kappiri Divya a victim of rape and murder.
Sri Jaya Laxmi IAS – Commissioner of SWD has greeted all the dignitaries and the victims and witnesses of all the 22 cases present in this legal clinic. She said during interaction with DSS team, they explained that this process is done by them every year at the state level and this year these cases are being presented to take them to a logical end. This is one of the good practices and all our district officers present here should also know the importance of their intervention. Normally when an incident takes place, Collector, SP, other officials and the media go to the place of incident and do what all they are to do and later forget the incident,
, but DSS is taking forward all their cases to a logical end. The role of social welfare department is to pay compensation, the police department to register the case, arrest the accused, investigate and file charge sheet similarly the prosecution department to look after the prosecution in the courts. We all need to get sensitized and respond immediately as it will have lot of impact on the case. The Act has a provision of compensation and if we pay on time it will be helpful for the victims to withstand the pressures. The payment of compensation is just like first aid and further we need to proceed legally for accessing justice as DSS is doing. During our interaction we assured DSS that all necessary support will be given by SWD to take the cases to the logical ends. The prosecution and police department are present in this meeting and if we all can coordinate and move further, definitely we can bring convictions in many cases. We have involved our DDs and JDs in this meeting so that they will get sensitized and play a prominent role in rendering justice to the victims. She has instructed the DDs/JDs to sit with the EDs of SC Corporation once they reach their districts and formulate financial assistance programs to the victims and their family members to help them apart from compensation. In these 22 cases pending payment need to be given immediately, provide financial assistance through various government schemes and jobs where ever possible. The department failed in doing coordinated efforts, and she assured that all the loose ends will be taped and the victims will be rendered support in all angles. In her experience as the Collector of Guntur was that in most of the cases the judgment has come after a long time hence we need to focus in this area. She said, that the study report on atrocity cases documented by DSS will be of great help to them to know the implementation status of the Act, the areas that need improvement and also the DDs can share this report in their respective districts. Apart from the vigilance and monitoring committee the DDs have various other platforms such as the bankers meeting, NREGA etc and through these avenues the victims can be helped by all means. She felt that the DDs should take stock of the cases in the respective districts at various levels such as investigation, trial or in some cases the judgment might have been given. We need to take necessary action and ensure that in every case at least one deliverable is reached to the victim. She excused herself to go to attend an urgent and important meeting, though she very much desired to listen to the agony of the victims and the responses from various officers. The victims must have shared many of the turbulences they faced and we all need to address those turmoil’s. From the side of social welfare department we will coordinate and ensure that the victims or their family members in all these 22 cases will get benefited as per the norms in the Act and the DDs to take initiative in their respective districts and render necessary support. She once again appreciated and congratulated DSS for the efforts in bringing out a wonderful study report. She said that the draft report was showed to her and after going through the report it has given us a chance to reflect upon and how the implementation is going on, the conviction rate and the areas to be improved. She also said that with the help of this report they will set mile stones to improve themselves. She appreciated DSS for the successful efforts in taking the cases to the logical end and also normally the NGOs try to put the blame on the officers, but here we could see the interaction was so good and trying to improve the services by exchanging the views. Normally the organizations speak emotional and later they keep quite. DSS has been continuously and consistently doing every year and taking the cases to the logical ends in the best possible way. She assured that by the next meeting we will take all these 22 cases a step forward. All the other departments present here will definitely move a head in accessing justice and the DDs/JDs should go back with this home work and try to do an extra mile.
Sri GDV Prakash Program manager of DSS has said DSS is grateful to all the officials present in the conference and assured that all the suggestions given by them will be implemented in ensuring speedy investigation, speedy trial and appointment of special public prosecutors for justice. The conference was over with the vote thanks by the Program Manager.
In the post lunch session keeping in view of the suggestions given by the departments, further discussions were carried on with the respective advocates, victims and DHRDs. The advocates have expressed their deep concern towards the vulnerable situation of the women and after hearing the cases it has reminded them their responsibility. They said, it is the first time to attend this type of meetings and that they are definitely going back with lot of learning’s and assured that not only taking up these cases but also involve right from fact finding in the incidents of violence and follow up them regularly.
Ø Agreed for the appointment of SPPs as per the choice of victims
Ø To give necessary instructions to the respective PPs of Special Courts
Ø To ensure the panel of advocates in districts as per Act
Ø To make the payment of 2nd stage of compensation, rehabilitation such as job, land, pensions
Ø Respective DDs/JDs of SWD to have a meeting with victims, witnesses in their respective districts, identify their needs and arrange for the necessary assistance
Ø DDs/JDs to cover extra mile by looking for other avenues such as EDs of SC Corporation, bankers, NREGA, etc and extend all sorts of help to the victims
Ø SWD to play a main role as the Nodal agent and take the cases to the logical end
Ø Immediate task of SWD is to resolve the 22 cases presented in this clinic, similarly follow up the other cases
ü For the first time the state heads of the concerned departments have come together and did in depth discussions
ü The concerned departments have acknowledged the gaps
ü The study report gave an eye opening for the factual state of the implementation of the Act
ü The study report will show ways forward to strengthen the system
ü Increased confidence levels among the victims and witnesses
ü Advocates gained better understanding on the atrocities
ü HRDs strengthened and enlightened