The Tamil Nadu monitoring committee for SC/ST has not held a single meeting in the past three years to keep a tab on the implementation of the SC/ST Act in the state, the Union Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry informed the Lok Sabha on March 17.
According to a 2018 amendment in the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, a state-level committee should be created and headed by respective chief ministers of states. Similarly, district level committees should be headed by district collectors to monitor the implementation of the legislation. The state-level committee should meet twice a year, while the district level committee should meet four times a year (once in three months).
But, the Union ministry report said no such meetings were held in Tamil Nadu between 2016 and 2018.
This is not the case in Tamil Nadu alone. As many as 24 states too have not conducted these vigilance meetings for three years.
There, however, are exceptions. In 2016, states like Haryana, Karnataka and West Bengal held such meetings at least once. The same states as well as Chhattisgarh, Kerala, Gujarat and Puducherry held meetings once in 2017. In 2018, Assam, Chhattisgarh, Haryana, Chandigarh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, Puducherry and West Bengal met at least for once.
Haryana has performed better than the other states in conducting these meetings. It is the only state which conducted SC/ST Act monitoring committee meetings five times in three years – twice each in 2016 and 2017 and once in 2018. It is followed by West Bengal which conducted four meetings in three years.
When it comes to district level meetings, Tamil Nadu has seen 53 meetings in 2016, 86 meetings in 2017 and 118 meetings in 2018.
The ministry’s data came in response to a question raised by D Ravikumar, the MP from Villupuram.
Speaking to The Federal, Ravikumar said that not conducting these meetings is the major reason for rising crime rates against individuals from the SC/ST communities.
“The ministry has given data about district level meetings. But in reality, the ruling party appoints the members and the meetings become a kind of eyewash. Even in my district, Villupuram, the district administration has not conducted a single meeting in the past one year,” he said.
He also added that he intends to write a letter to the Tamil Nadu chief minister, asking him to conduct a meeting in this regard.
“But most of the time the government doesn’t respond to such questions,” said Ravikumar.