Dalit Sthree Sakthi has organized a Round Table Conference regarding the Ordinance of SC/ST (PoA) Act amendments issued on 4th March 2014. This conference was held at Sundaraiah Vignana Kendram, Baghlingampally, Hyderabad on 15th March 2014. Jhansi Geddam, Convener DSS presided over the conference. The dignitaries present in the conference were Sri Raghuram – JD, Social Welfare Department; Sri SDJM Prasad –Convener for National Coalition Delhi; Sri Dr Siddhoji - SC/ST officers forum; Sri Anand Rao – All India Dalit Rights Association, Delhi; Sri GDV Prakash - Program Manager, DSS; Sri Ramana – ST Employees Association, Lalitha from COVA, District and State level leaders of various Dalit organizations.
Jhansi Geddam, Convener DSS in her inaugural speech said that SC/ST (PoA) Act 1989 is an achievement of Dalits and Adivasis. On the completion of 20 years of this Act, a State level Round Table Conference was organized by DSS with officials of concerned departments, representatives of state and national SC commissions, intellectuals and various organizations in 2009. Since then DSS worked continuously on this aspect and conducted several meetings and discussions in the districts and participated in various national level consultations. Later National Coalition was formed with 500 organizations across the country and DSS was part of
it. DSS took the complete responsibility of the campaign in the state of AP on the proposed amendments to the Act. In this context in the year 2012, DSS has organized a state level consultation followed by conferences in all the 23 districts. The proposed amendments from the districts were consolidated and submitted to the SWD of AP and National Coalition. The National Coalition has organized various consultations at national level by involving the government and submitted a draft on proposed amendments; it also brought continuous pressure on the government for passing the amendments bill.
In this context President has passed the SC, ST (PoA) Act 1989 Amendments Ordinance on 4th March 2014 as a result of all these efforts. She reminded that one of the reasons for Dalit movements being in such a pathetic condition is failure in using these weapons (Acts) properly. Only some activists are aware of Acts and the actual people whom these Acts are meant, are completely unaware. As Dalit Sthree Sakthi is working with Dalit Adivasi women, we get these Acts printed in telugu language immediately so that they will have more accessibility. All our Women Collectives are aware of SC, ST (PoA) Act because of our continuous trainings on Acts.
She said that 99% of the amendments proposed by the National Coalition are in the ordinance. Social Welfare Department has played an important role in the whole process. Earlier there were many loopholes in the Act but now there are good provisions in the ordinance regarding compensation, TA DA, victims, witnesses etc. Previously copies of FIR, charge sheet were given only to the victims and now the ordinance says that these documents should be given to the activists also. Similarly the ordinance says that dates of investigation also should be informed to the victims and activists in advance. Section 4 is much specific in the ordinance about how, why and whom it implies to. We had to execute public actions like Dharna, Rasta Roko, etc to get the atrocity cases registered with proper sections but in the ordinance specific sections are set according to the type of offence. A new chapter has been included to protect the rights of the victims and witnesses.
Raghuram-JD SWD said that “DSS knows about this Act and ordinance much better than us because they have worked a lot over it”. He said that we all should appreciate DSS for all their efforts. This is the historical Act that provides security for Dalits. We all hope that we never need to use this Act but unfortunately in this dominant society injustices are taking place. All the amendments we proposed have been placed in this ordinance which itself indicates that
our state has played very important role for these amendments. I thank all the elders who strived for this ordinance on behalf of our department. In this ordinance, particular aspects have been sited regarding Joginis and Safai Karmacharis which were not there earlier. According to this ordinance, those who threaten the voters or abuse them or cancel the nomination on technical reasons without proposing the candidate who has nominated are liable for punishment. The ordinance also says that exclusive courts should be established where there is a need. He said that the government has done its duty by releasing ordinance and it is our responsibility to get it connected to the grass root level and get it implemented effectively.
He said that “I have thought of suggesting DSS to translate the ordinance from English to Telugu but as soon as I attended to the conference I was given a Telugu copy of ordinance. Moreover DSS even organized the Round Table Conference which is highly appreciable. That means DSS is already into its work. The more people know about the ordinance, the more it will be implemented. Let us all work for its implementation”.
GDV Prakash- Program Manager, DSS said that DSS has started this campaign in the year
2009. Generally we fight hard for the Acts and once they are accomplished we don’t strive for their effective implementation. Similarly we fight for the cases until they are registered and once they are registered, we neglect them. Unless and until we follow up each and every case till judgment we can’t achieve conviction. It is the responsibility of all of us to get the Acts meant for us implemented properly. Therefore we should take this ordinance to the village level.
Dr Siddhoji Rao-SC/ST officers Forum said that we are very well empowered with this Act especially DSS. They usually say that we have to strive as tough as we fought for the implementation of the Act to stop the misuse of the Act. DSS translates any Act immediately after it is introduced. The more we have accessibility to the Act, the more our opponents will be afraid of us. We should thank DSS for its efforts and activities.
Ananda Rao-All India Dalit Rights Association said that no other organization is being run in any state with the name Dalit Sthree Sakthi. But in AP, DSS has been working for Dalit women for over 8 years which is admirable. It is easy to attain an Act but very difficult to get it implemented because the politics and other social evils in the society will obstruct. It would have been better if some aspects like objection of bail to the accused, setting time frame for High Court and Supreme Court etc because in the case of Tsundur, it has taken 25 years and the accused are not yet convicted. Some of the accused have even died. Therefore we need to strive for establishment of exclusive courts and speedy trial.
Chitti Babu-DBSU, Vijayanagaram said that we have been fighting for self respect since many years. SC, ST (PoA) Act was brought in 1989 and the gaps in implementation of the Act faced for 20 years which were gathered by National and State Coalitions were presented in the parliament. Ordinance on amendments is the great victory for us. Many aspects have been set in this ordinance but gravity of punishment and the words like “Open area”, “Intentionally” have not been changed. To file Charge sheet in 30 days used to give us self confidence but it has now been extended to 60 days.
Bhujanga Rao-HRF, Adilabad said that it is the inspiration of the great person Dr. BR Ambedkar which made us to gather here today. We are benefited with jobs and posts because of reservations provided by him. But it is shameful that we are not helping the people of our community. Some people from our side itself are misusing the Acts. In fact there is no need of any amendments if all of us are sincere. We could have terrorized the opponents with the existing Act itself.
Ramana-ST Employees Association said that there are some loopholes in this Act. Time period of punishment is from 6 months to 5 years only. Bail is not permitted but can get stay order. He said that any Act gets implemented completely, only when the public are fully aware of it. We should know the Act well and make use of it.
SDJM Prasad-National Coalition, Delhi said in his speech that it is happy to attain the ordinance. 6 ordinances were sent to the President and he has given his assent to this ordinance before the announcement of the elections.Though there is not much concern towards our community, our ordinance has been passed because of political desire. The
ordinance has been passed because of political desire. The reason might be what so ever, but it is glad to get the ordinance.
He said that 500 organizations from all over the country have worked on this ordinance and DSS played a significant role in AP. A whole of 156 amendments were proposed out of which 89 have been approved. All the proposed amendments were documented from the experience and hard work of various organizations, leaders and activists during their fact findings. “When we presented our proposed amendments to the government, they said that these are not the amendments, it is re-writing of the Act” he said.
He said that the ordinance will be in practice for 6 months only. It is to be converted into Act in the month of June and we all have to work for it. We should publicize the ordinance in the villages and should put a proposal that we vote only if the ordinance is implemented.
DSS has felicitated SDJM Prasad as he played the key role to get the ordinance passed. Lalitha-COVA, Leslie-DBSU, Prasanna Kumar, Vinay Kumar-DBF, Srinivas & Izac - Sakshi, DSS women collective members and other leaders from various organizations have participated in the conference and shared their suggestions.
ü Create awareness on the ordinance to the concerned departments and ensure its implementation
ü Create awareness to the community
ü Demand the contestants for making the ordinance an Act
ü Campaign in a big way to ensure the ordinance will be made an Act