Maharashtra appoints Nodal officer to implement SC/ST Act

Principal Secretary (Social Justice Department) Satish Gavai is the new Nodal officer.
This information was given in an affidavit filed on September 9 in response to a PIL, which alleged that the state was not interested in implementing the Act. The PIL, filed by an NGO, also said the government had not appointed a Nodal officer since long time to oversee its implementation.

On August 26, the HC had pulled up the Government for not filing an affidavit. It warned the Chief Secretary would have to personally remain present in the court if the said affidavit was not filed within a week.

The affidavit said a high-powered committee formed recently on the issue under Chief Minister Ashok Chavan would meet on September 15. The last meeting of such a panel was convened in 2006 by then Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh.
During this period, the state had not sent annual reports to the Centre on implementation of the 21-year-old Act. It was mandatory for every state to send such reports, which are placed before Parliament every year.
Justices B H Marlapalle and A A Sayed posted the matter for further hearing on September 16.

The PIL, filed by National Dalit Movement for Justice, alleged that the Act, aimed to prevent atrocities against SCs/ STs, was not being properly implemented in Maharashtra.
Petitioner's counsel Sangharaj Rupawate said the high- powered committee, which was slated to meet in January and July every year to ensure implementation of the Act, had not met so far although the Chief Minister was heading it.
He said the PIL was based on 43 cases of atrocities on SCs/STs from various districts. The PIL brought to the notice of the High Court various gaps and negligence by the implementing authorities at different levels.

According to the PIL, vigilance and monitoring committees set up under the 1989 legislation were not properly constituted. The Government was also not sending report to the Centre on March 31 every year as stipulated under the Act.
The PIL alleged the state was not performing its responsibility under the Act to review twice in a year the performance of prosecutors, consider reports received and investigations made in atrocity cases apart from ascertaining preventive steps taken by police and district magistrates and rehabilitation measures taken to help the victims.
The petition further alleged that in many cases FIRs were not registered at all. And in cases they were registered, proper sections of the Act were not applied. Besides, the accused were also not arrested immediately.

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