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Sunday, February 19, 2012

Piece-meal allocation will not bring peace


paper presented in a consultation with planning commission
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When I participated in ‘Dalit consultation with planning commission’ jointly organized by NACDOR, NCDHR, and other NGOs in New Delhi on December 9, 2010, I shockingly realized that entire consultation space had been captured by handful NGOs and there is total absence of dalit-tribal community leaders and activists. Paul Diwakar and Narendra Jadhav both were congratulating each other and their paid workers were documenting and capturing each moment as if they were creating history. The whole thrust was on “kaise paisa lootana.” There was no discussion on skill building. People were crying for scholarships. The aim of SCP is to give “money directly to beneficiaries.” Here, In Gujarat another Narendra is doing same thing by organizing Garib Mela!!!
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As an inheritor of a great civilization, I would like to start my discourse with a fabulous quote of our ancient wisdom:

नास्ति अक्षरम् अमंत्रम्, नास्ति मूलम् अनौषधम,
नास्ति मनुष्य निरर्थकम्, योजक: तत्र दुर्लभ: ।।

“Nasti aksharam amantram, nasty mulam an-aushadham, nasti manushya nirarthakam, yojakah tatra durlabhah.”

(In this universe, every word is mantra, every plant is medicine, every human being is purposeful, (but) Manager is rare.)

I am from Gujarat, a state which is called vibrant by some people, I call it migrant. It is sucking blood and toil of migrant workers. Here, more than one lakh tribal children are being exploited and sexploited in fields of BT cotton. In Ahmedabad, our developing mega-city, every month average two tribal workers are killed on construction sites. Recently, state government has decided to keep records of migrant workers, not to implement inter-state migrant labour Act, but to identify so-called naxal elements among migrant labourers. It is tragic! 

Now, I will touch the main point, i.e. planning by the people, planning for the people and planning to the people. The confusion is, we are talking about geodesic planning in a pyramid society. I have also come across a question, how to know what people wants. An American wisdom, fabulously expressed by Martin Luther King can be our guiding Principal: “riots are voices of unheard” Let us keep our ears on ground and listen to what our people want to say.

We crave for innovations. We have seen archaic, outdated schemes like ‘training women in tailoring’ continue since decades. In my state social welfare department is ridiculously, spending crores of rupees in a survey, just to know, which kind of work SCs and STs. want to do. In this century of networking do we, still need a research to emphasize that we want to learn state-of-the-art technologies?

Six decades of independence have taught us that change can only be materialized by people-oriented Planning. The SCP and TSP guidelines issued by planning commission are a beginning in this regard. My problem is, the nodal department, which is given the pious duty of allocating and monitoring funds for SCs and STs, is diverting the funds to other purposes.
From the beginning non-divisible’ component has been headache. Now, we have decided that the departments handling mega projects will bear responsibility of earmarking. I am still confused. In my state, major chunk of indivisible component is being consumed by Sardar Sarovar. In the future, there will be kalpsar, a highly controversial mega-project, the potential benefits of which is a question of fiery debate.

Our organization, Council for Social Justice, have collected tons of Information spanning a decade under RTI act. We have observed that all meetings of task force called by collectors are mere formalities. Collectors hardly take any interest in fulfilling the targets. Every meeting Concludes with one line, “Steps will be taken to fulfill targets in next year.” Next year never comes.
Critical sectors are being ignored and important sub-sectors are being deprived of finance. Thus, the sector which is being ignored most is the sector which is the most important. Land reform is the case in this regard. We are the only organization in entire country, which has been and is instrumental in implementation of Agriculture Land Ceiling Act and our experience suggests only one thing. The failure of state government to implement ALCA is being reflected in non-allocation in area of land reforms. The lack of any preventive acts curbing land alienation of dalits is another major concern, which needs to be addressed.
Alarming rate of drop-out among SCs is seriously affecting skill-based development. Meaningless schemes by state governments have aggravated this problem. In Gujarat crores of rupees have been diverted to a scheme like sponsoring SC student for foreign studies, when thousands of local poor SC students are craving for quality education.

I would like to draw your kind attention to a survey conducted in Ahmedabad city by one of our organizations Dalit Hak Rakshak Manch. The survey is attached herewith.

Diversion of funds is a major issue. State governments have not opened minor codes for SCP/TSP. if the allocation is not utilized in a given time frame; there will a danger of diversion. The political needs of state governments play major role in such diversion. In Gujarat state crores of rupees which was meant for rehabilitation of manual scavengers was simply thrown away in the hands of political agents of party in power.

We do not want schemes like Satyavadi Raja Harishchandra Maranottar Sahay Yojana (a scheme to subsidize funeral rites of dalits), Kunvarbai nu mameru (giving mangal-sutra to dalit bride on her marriage). We want a separate IIM, a medical collage and an engineering collage in every state for SCs and STs. Piece-meal allocation will not bring peace. We need something actual in this virtual-age.

                                                             Raju Solanki



Friday, February 17, 2012

From the Underbelly of Swarnim Gujarat



video

Anand Teltumbde
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Although I was a participant in the land struggle on 24 January 2011, I thank Rajesh Solanki and Valjibhai Patel of the Council for Social Justice, Ahmedabad for providing the information I needed to write this piece. -writer
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Anand Teltumbde (tanandraj@gmail.com) is a writer and civil rights activist with the Committee for the Protection of Democratic Rights, Mumbai. 
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It was heartening to witness dalits in Saurashtra, deprived of the use of land that was de jure theirs, marching to take possession of it. One was reminded of an event in Mahad on 20 March 1927 when the delegates to the Bahishkrit Conference had marched under the leadership of their newfound leader B R Ambedkar to the Chavadar Tank to assert their civil rights to use its water. Nobody noticed little vibrations on the literal margins of vibrant Gujarat on 24 January 2011 but potentially they could cause significant tremors across the country. In a nondescript village of Joradiary in Vav taluka of Banaskantha district in north Gujarat, practically on the borders of Rajasthan and Pakistan, a procession of 200 odd dalits accompanied by beats of drums and slogans of “long live Ambedkar” marched into a farm under illegal control of a Rabari to restore its possession to a dalit. The Ahmedabad based Council for Social Jus­tice (CSJ), which led this struggle to its cul­mination, was justifiably apprehensive of the beneficiaries daring their upper caste tormentors in taking this bold step and had therefore planned to mobilise dalits from all villages in the taluka at Vav for a public meeting before taking the victory march. Indeed, the beneficiary dalit fam­ily, the de jure owner of the farm for the last 28 years, literally trembled to do a little ritual, to mark the taking of its de facto possession. More such takeovers followed until evening to embolden people to take possession of their own lands, being ille­gally cultivated by the upper castes. In the Vav taluka itself, 35 dalit families bene­fited from the ownership of over 150 acres.

Unknown even to dalits, it was a land­mark event that could verily be likened to the one that took place in Mahad on 20 March 1927 when the delegates to the Bahishkrit Conference there had marched under the leadership of their newfound leader B R Ambedkar to the Chavadar Tank and asserted their civil rights to use its water. Caste Residue of Land ReformsAt the time of transfer of power in 1947, landownership was virtually concentrated in the hands of a few landlords, who were the erstwhile feudal lords. The ethos of the freedom struggle led the new rulers to announce policies like abolition of Zamind­ari and redistribution of surplus land to the tillers. It had a salutary impact in calming and confusing radical peasant movements that demanded land reforms. The glorious Telangana struggle, for instance, was called off by the communists precisely because of these policy announcements, pushing them onto the parliamentary path that, they mistakenly thought, would reach their cherished goal of revolution. Land reforms did take place but in a calibrated and trun­cated manner. Some amount of land was taken from the upper caste feudal lords and distributed among the middle caste ten­ants. No one fully comprehended the far-reaching consequences of this innocuous development, which would change the basic complexion of rural India. The capi­talist strategy of green revolution immedi­ately following it led to the enrichment of these middle castes, who leveraged the economic gain to establish their hegemony over most spheres of national life.

Speaking of Gujarat, U N Dhebar, the chief minister of the then Saurashtra state, had enacted the Saurashtra Land Reforms Act, 1952, giving occupancy rights to 55,000 tenant cultivators over 12 lakh acres of land, out of 29 lakh acres held by girasdars, spread over 1,726 villages, the balance being left for their personal cultivation. Girasdars were mainly upper caste kshatri­yas, known as darbars, literally meaning rulers. Tenant cultivators were mainly Patels by caste, who became the owners of this land. The Patels enriched themselves by undertaking massive cash crop cultiva­tion like groundnut, cotton, cumin and later graduating to setting up cotton gin­ning, oil mills, and other industries. This has been the evolution of the Saurashtra Patel lobby, euphemistically known as telia rajas (oil kings), who came to occupy the dominant position in the politics of Gujarat. With their social capital and state backing, they went on acquiring huge tracts of agri­cultural lands all over the state, most nota­bly in the tribal belt of south Gujarat. Laws were suitably amended to facilitate this acquisition. There were two of the most notable changes in the law. One was the taking away of the eight km limit for an agriculturist to own agricultural land away from his residence, thereby allowing absen­tee landlordism. The second was changing the order of priorities from scheduled tribes (ST), scheduled castes (SC) and Other Backward Classes (OBC) to original land­lords and then others for the right to culti­vate government surplus land.
Through another Act, i.e., the Estate Acquisition Act, the government acquired “uncultivable” and cultivable wasteland, gochar land (village grassland for cattle grazing) and other assets by compensating the girasdars. This huge land that came in the possession of the state became the theatre of the land grab struggle in the early 1960s by dalit landless peasants and agricultural labourers, under the leader­ship of dalit textile workers of Ahmedabad. In the words of Somchandbhai Makwana, an influential leader of that movement, an estimated 2 lakh acres of land was grabbed by dalits and OBCs, which still remains in their possession, albeit without regularisa­tion by the government.

In many cases, dalit and OBC peasants and/or their cooperatives, tilling lands under the government’s ek-sali (oneyear renewable tenure) scheme for several dec­ades, were evicted and the land was reverted back to the “original” upper caste landlords. Gandhinagar, the capital of Gujarat, has been a meek witness over the last three years to many dalit families (mostly from Saurashtra) offering satyagraha on the footpath near the assembly against this intrigue. The amendments to the Acts referred to above emboldened the upper castes and the state machinery to violently evict dalits from the land they had cultivated for decades. In a macabre incident on 27 November 1999 in Pankhan village in Saurashtra, a mob of 800 upper caste men had attacked dalits with swords, spears, pipes and fire arms and seriously injured 60 men and women, effectively evicting them from 125 acres of land.A Strange Struggle for LandIn 1997, santh (title) orders were given for a total of 150 acres to 40 dalits of Bharad village in Dhrangadhra taluka of Surendranagar district. Two of these 40, Devjibhai and Kanabhai (a blind agricultural labourer) asked the upper caste Patel to vacate the land allotted to them. Upper caste landlords responded with violence but were met with serious resistance. Violent group clashes ensued and in one such con­frontation six persons suffered serious injuries. Dalits endured severe social boycott by the upper castes. Devjibhai was apprehended and imprisoned under the Prevention of AntiSocial Activities Act (PASA) for daring to enter the land although he was its de jure owner. It was at this stage that the CSJ stepped in, crea­tively combining legal and agitation strat­egies and got Devjibhai released. It organ­ised an “Ambedkar Rath” through 28 villages over seven days to mobilise dalit support, which culminated in a rally of over 10,000 landless dalits on 6 December 1999, the death anniversary of Ambedkar. The struggle encompassed all 12,438 acres of prime agricultural land declared sur­plus vide the Agriculture Land Ceiling Act, for which 2,398 dalit families and 50 tribal families were given the santh, but not actual possession. The land, apart from being very fertile, was potentially valuable because Surendranagar district was to be the biggest beneficiary of the Narmada irrigation scheme.

A parallel struggle took place in another village, Kaundh, where a young textile mill worker Dungarshibhai of Ahmedabad gave up his job to take up cudgels on behalf of his people in the village. In defi­ance of one of the biggest tyrant darbars in the district, who owned nearly 3,000 acres of land, he drove the tractor on the land given to his family in santh but which was still in possession of the darbar. As the entire group of dalits stood behind him, the darbar allowed Dungarshibhai to cultivate but took away the crop. CSJ filed a criminal complaint and put three darbars behind bars. Dungarshibhai today is revered as an unchallenged dalit leader in Surendranagar district.

These struggles were strange as they were waged by the de jure owners of land for its possession from the illegal holders. While the government eagerly publicised distribution of lands to the SC/ST benefici­aries, it intentionally or otherwise ignored their physical handing over. The process for handing over possession involved the vil­lage talathi preparing the records of rights and the “farmers’ book” along with a rough map of the plot. After receiving these doc­uments from the collector’s office, the District Inspector of Land Records (DILR) had to send surveyors to prepare the final map, physically mark it out and hand over its possession to the beneficiary in the pres­ence of the collector’s representative. This procedure was not carried out in most cases. The beneficiaries were also deprived of Rs 5,000 per acre due to them as per rules. The officers responsible could be punished as per a government notification of 1989 but no action was taken. In case of the SC/ST beneficiaries, the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 (the Atrocities Act) could also be invoked.

The struggle, led by the CSJ, set the state machinery into action, enabling the dalits in Vav taluka to take possession of their lands. But alas, this impressive strug­gle failed to arouse the enthusiasm of the reservationobsessed middle class dalits, thus revealing the ugly fault line of the “emerging classes” among dalits. Anti-Dalit Attitude of the StateAlthough, like any other dalit episode, this may also be a pan Indian phenomenon, nevertheless Gujarat strangely emerges as a “rogue state” as far as recent revelations visàvis dalits are concerned. A CSJ study of 400 judgments delivered by the special courts in 16 districts of Gujarat since 1 April 1995 revealed a shocking pattern behind the collapse of cases filed under the Atrocities Act: utterly negligent police investigation at both the higher and lower levels and a distinctly hostile role played by the public prosecutors. In over 95% of the cases, acquittals had resulted due to technical lapses by the investigation and prosecution, and in the remaining 5%, court directives were flouted by the gov­ernment. The government’s casual atti­tude was underscored by the statement of its chief minister in the assembly when he stated, contrary to the Rule, that the cases under the Atrocities Act was to be investi­gated by an officer not above the rank of deputy superintendent of police.

One wonders whether this plight of dalits at the hands of the Gujarat government is because of its ideological adherence to Hindutva or because of its neoliberal vibrancy. As it appears, perhaps it is the result of both these mutually reinforcing factors, a kind of vile resonance.

(Courtesy: Economic & Political Weekly, April 2, 2011 vol. xlvi no 14) 

Monday, February 13, 2012



Editor's arrest, Message For Media

Case against 

casteist daily ‘Rakhewal’

Due to age-old varna vyavastha there is a strong bias against SCs, STs, OBCs, minorities in our society. This bias is reflected in our education system, too. We have also seen anti-reservation agitations against these weaker sections. This attitude is severely affecting prospects of children of marginalized sections. It is a challenge against their right to development. The case filed by Rajesh Solanki, Secretary, Dalit Hak Rakshak Manch (DHRM), against an influential editor of a prominent Gujarati daily has important significance in this regard.

Editor of Disha-based ‘Rakhewal’ daily was arrested under Atrocity Act and put behind bars at least for a day and night. This is the first incident in Gujarat and perhaps in entire country in which a media person is implicated under Atrocity Act for his distorted, derogatory and casteist writing. Though court has given him bail, the message is clear for media fraternity. Stop writing casteist, malicious articles or face judicial actions.

Here is the paragraph of the controversial article which was published in ‘Rakhewal’ daily and for which its editor is being prosecuted:

‘In ancient times parents used to send their children to hear lectures of saints to provide them good company. Children were admitted to forest-school (tapovan) for education. In forest-school virtuous rishi munis shaped their characters. Children, who could not attend forest-school, would learn in village schools, where they were taught lessons of good behavior (sadachar) along with education. In modern times children go to schools, where they come in to contact of children of ’inferior caste’ (हलका वर्ण) and learn bad manners. In present day schools children who inherit bad manners (खराब संस्कार) also come to school with sons of ’reputed families’ (खानदान कुल). They definitely spoil sons of reputed families. In past, only Brahmins were chosen as teachers in pathshalals. Now-a-days, even people of ’backward caste’ (पछात वर्ण) become teachers by getting benefits of reservation. These teachers can not teach good behaviours (अच्छे संस्कार) to children.’

Events

19/12/2008
The said article was published in Rakhewal, a local   daily having significant readership in D. Banaskantha.
17/09/2009
A case was filed against editor, printer, publisher and owner of Rakhewal daily, Mr. Tarun Amrutlal Sheth  by  Secretary, DHRM in Chief Metropolitan Magistrate’s court no. 2 under section 7 (1) (C) of Civil Rights Protection Act, 1955, sections 3 (1) (9) and 3 (1) (10) of Scheduled castes Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocity) Act and Sections 153 (A), 500 and 505 (1) (G) of IPC.
Hon’ble CMM held the said offense as of ‘serious nature’ and ordered to send the complaint to Shahibaug Police Station for investigation under section 156 (3) OF IPC and also ordered PI, Shahibaug to submit the report of investigation. Advocate Mr. Hirabhai Solanki appeared for DHRM.
06/11/2009
As the matter was not under its jurisdiction, Shahibaug Police Station transferred the complaint to Madhupura Police Station.
 08/11/2009
FIR was filed in Madhupura Police Station. 
 04/09/2010
CMM directed ACP, SC-ST Cell, Karanj for further investigation on the basis of a written complaint by advocate of DHRM. It was ordered to submit a report within 60 days.
 10/12/2010
The accused moved Gujarat High Court to quash said complaint under section 482 of IPC. Court gave oral order to dispose the case ‘expeditiously’
 21/12/2010
As the matter was deferred to hear bail application, accused Tarun Sheth was sent to Sabarmati jail.
 22/12/2010
Court gave bail to the accused.
 24/12/2010
DHRM sent application to 1) Director General of Police and Chief Police Officer, 2) ACP, SC/ST Cell, Karanj and 3) PI, Madhupura Police Station demanding to include one Mr. Sanjay Vora (alias columnist Suparshwa Mehta of Gujarat Samachar) as co-accused, whose name has been appeared in bail application of Mr. Tarun Sheth. In the bail application Tarun had confessed that Sanjay Vora had given him that poem (!) to print in his daily!!


Dalit groups make presentation before planning commission

By TCN News,

New Delhi: Several groups working for the uplift of the Dalit community in the country have made a joint presentation before the Planning Commission, seeking fundamental change in the government thinking about the development of the deprived, backward community. The presentation was part of the ongoing consultation of the Commission with groups and communities in the process of finalization of 12th Five Year Plan (2012-2017).
They demanded innovations in schemes for SCs and STs. They stressed on land reform. In place of schemes like one to subsidize funeral rites of Dalits and another to give mangal-sutra to dalit bride on her marriage, the Dalit groups demanded a separate IIM, a medical college and an engineering college in every state for SCs and STs. “Piece-meal allocation will not bring peace. We need something actual in this virtual-age,” Rajesh Solanki of Council for Social Justice (CSJ) said at the consultation meet.
The Dalit consultation with planning commission was jointly organized by NACDOR, NCDHR, and other NGOs in New Delhi on 9th Dec. 2010. Mr. Narendra Jadhav and Mr. Arun Mira, members of the commission, attended the consultation.
Rajesh Solanki presented a paper on the Dalit situation at the consultation. He raised various issues related to Dalits in the country specially in Gujarat.
“I am from Gujarat, a state which is called vibrant by some people, I call it migrant. It is sucking blood and toil of migrant workers. Here, more than one lakh tribal children are being exploited and sexploited in fields of BT cotton,” Solanki said. Recently, the state government has decided to keep records of migrant workers, not to implement inter-state migrant labour Act, but to identify so-called naxal elements among migrant labourers, he added.
He demanded innovations in schemes. “We have seen archaic, outdated schemes like ‘training women in tailoring’ continue since decades. In my state social welfare department is ridiculously, spending crores of rupees in a survey, just to know, which kind of work SCs and STs. want to do. In this century of networking do we, still need a research to emphasize that we want to learn state-of-the-art technologies?”
He also stressed on people-oriented planning while raising the issue of fund diversion. “Six decades of independence have taught us that change can only be materialized by people-oriented Planning…The nodal department, which is given the pious duty of allocating and monitoring funds for SCs and STs, is diverting the funds to other purposes.”
He alleged that critical sectors are being ignored and important sub-sectors are being deprived of finance. The sector being ignored most, he said, is Land reform. The failure of state government to implement Agriculture Land Ceiling Act (ALCA) is being reflected in non-allocation in area of land reforms. The lack of any preventive acts curbing land alienation of dalits is another major concern, which needs to be addressed, he pointed out.
Other major issue of the community is drop-out among SCs. It is seriously affecting skill-based development. “Meaningless schemes by state governments have aggravated this problem. In Gujarat crores of rupees have been diverted to a scheme like sponsoring SC student for foreign studies, when thousands of local poor SC students are craving for quality education,” Solanki said.
“We do not want schemes like सत्यवादी राजा हरिश्चंद्र मरणोत्तर सहाय योजना (Satyavadi Raja Harishchandra Maranottar Sahay Yojana - a scheme to subsidize funeral rites of dalits), कुंवरबाई नु मामेरु (Kunvarbai nu mameru - giving mangal-sutra to dalit bride on her marriage). We want a separate IIM, a medical college and an engineering college in every state for SCs and STs. Piece-meal allocation will not bring peace. We need something actual in this virtual-age.”
(courtesy: TwoCircles.net, 27 January, 2011)

Monday, February 6, 2012

DALIT HAK RAKSHAK MANCH (DHRM) 
MEMORANDUM TO HER EXCELLENCY

GOVERNOR OF GUAJRAT
HON’BLE KAMALA BENIWAL


ON ATROCITIES
PERPETRATED ON
SCHEDULED CASTES AND SCHEDULED TRIBES



Rajesh solanki
Secretary, Dalit Hak Rakshak Manch
236, Dr. Ambedkar Street,
Near Futi Masjid, Dariapur,
Ahmedabad
D. February 5, 2012


To,
Hon’ble Kamala Beniwal,
Her Excellency, Governor of Gujarat,
Rajbhavan, Gandhinagar.


SUB: ATROCITIES PERPETRATED ON SCHEDULED CASTES AND SCHEDULED TRIBES

HONURABLE HER EXCELLENCY,
It has already been in Her Excellency’s prudent knowledge that to prevent gory atrocities against the people belonging to scheduled caste and scheduled tribes and to punish the offenders of such atrocities, a special legislation namely The Scheduled castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocity) Act, 1989 (Annexure – 1) has been enacted and for the effective enforcement of this Act, The Scheduled castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocity) Rules-1995 (Annexure – 2) has also been framed.

However, there is a strong and perpetual bias against these communities in particular section of administration and this bias has created an atmosphere which deliberately acts against the effective implementation of the mandatory provisions of this Act. We want to draw Her Excellency’s kind perusal towards the fat that though, the said Act has an excellent mechanism[1] even to punish negligent government officers who knowingly show negligence towards offence under Atrocities Act; this mechanism has been destroyed consciously by those who are at the helm of affairs.

Various organizations, including Dalit Hak Rakshak Manch (DHRM), are consistently campaigning against acquittals of number of accused due to sloppy investigation by police machinery. Our partner organization Council for Social Justice has investigated judgments pronounced under the said Act by various courts in the districts of Banaskantha, Vadodara, Surat, Mehsana, Patan, Bharuch, Surendranagar, Ahmedabad, Sabarkantha, Rajkot, Jamnagar, Amreli, Anand, Veraval, Navsari, Godhra, Valsad and Junagadh. 

During the course of study, we have found that in several cases due to sheer negligence of the police administration and government advocates, the offenders, are acquitted. In several judgments, the courts have passed severe strictures against police for its negligence. The accused involved in grievous offences like murder, rape etc. punishable for life Imprisonment in the offence under section 302, have been acquitted for the offence under the said Act merely because of negligence of the police. We have been making representation to the Government of Gujarat with number of such judgments for the past ten years but still however, no action has been taken by the government.

We like to draw Her Excellency’s kind perusal towards three specific lacunas in the implementation of the Act. They are negligence of (A) police machinery, (B) government pleaders and (C) administration.

(A) NEGLIGENCE OF POLICE MACHINERY:

1. INVESTIGATION BY UNAUTHORIZED POLICE OFFICER

Though the Rule 7(1) and (2)[2] of The Scheduled castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocity) Rules-1995 framed under the Act clearly provides that the investigation of the offense under the Act cannot be carried out by the officer below the rank of DySP, the accused in 95 per cent cases under the Act were acquitted merely on the ground that the investigation was carried out by the officer below the rank of DySP. The courts had taken very serious note of this fact and in several judgments, had made critical observations for such criminal negligence as under:

SPECIAL ATROCITY CASE NO. 391/02 PATAN DISTRICT (Annexure – 4)

In this case court held that, if the investigation is not carried out by the competent officer authorized by Rule-7 of the Rules under the Atrocities Act, the case of the complainant cannot be proved and, acquitted the accused.

SPECIAL ATROCITY CASE NO. 45/2001, JAMNAGAR DISTRICT (Annexure – 5)

In this case court held that “the investigating officer, DySP, Jamnagar Rural was in the charge when the incident took place. It appears that in fact his designation was of CPI merely because he was in the charge, the investigation cannot be said to be legal.” And finally ordered that, “The accused in this proceeding is hereby ordered to be placed under simple imprisonment for a period of six months with penalty of Rs. 500/- under section 323 of the Indian Penal Code and upon failure to the penalty, further simple imprisonment for 15 days and for months simple imprisonment under section 135(4) of the Bombay Police act with penalty of Rs. 100/- and upon failure to pay the penalty, further simple imprisonment for a period of 10 days.”

Thus, the accused have been acquitted merely on account of negligence of investigation police officer. And in not a single case the negligent police officers have been punished under section-4 of the Act.

2. ACQUITTAL DUE TO NON-INCLUSION OF CASTE CERTIFICATE BY THE POLICE

The pre-condition for taking cognizance of the offence under Atrocities Act is that the complainant must be a member of the Scheduled Castes or Scheduled tribe and that the accused must be a member of upper Caste. While investigating the offence, The Caste Certificate issued by the competent authority to the complainant must be annexed with the complaint and produced by the police before court as supportive evidence. There are several judgments of the cases of serious offence like rape where the accused, though liable to be convicted, is acquitted merely because the caste certificate is not produced on record of the case before the court and the courts have passed severe strictures in several of such cases against police for their negligence.

SPECIAL ATROCITY CASE NO. 46/03 (Annexure – 6)

In this case court held that “at no stage, it is proved by the prosecution by way of cogent evidence that the victim lady was a member of scheduled castes and/or scheduled Tribes community” and acquitted the accused. Thus, the accused in the above case was convicted under IPC but acquitted under Atrocities Act due to negligence of the Police.

3. SEVERE STRICTURES AND SERIOUS OBSERVATIONS MADE AGAINST POLICE IN THE JUDGMENTS

There are several judgments where the courts have passed severe strictures against police and directed the government to take action against erring police officer for tampering with evidence, making false deposition on oath so as to save the upper caste accused and for showing gross negligence in carrying out investigation. Apart from this, the courts have also directed the government to produce action taken report within two months. Still, however, the Government of Gujarat has not taken any action against guilty officers for years. Till date the government has not produced any such action taken report before the court. Instead of punishing the guilty officers, the government has honored such officers with promotions. Some of such cases are as under:

SPECIAL ATROCITY CASE NO. 16/98 MEHSANA DISTRICT 08/1/1999

In this case court held that, “The behavior of Shri Rathod and the method of investigation have been discussed. A copy of this judgment to be sent to the District Superintendent of Police, Mehsana district with written direction that Shri Maluji Jituji Rathod. Police Sub Inspector, has not undertaken investigation seriously. Necessary inquiry to be made in this regard and its outcome be reported to this court within two months.”

SPECIAL ATROCITY CASE NO. 924/2000 MEHSANA DISTRICT 13/11/2003

“Now if we look at the complaint itself then accused abused him and called “Dheda”, even than the investigating officer has not considered the provision of the prevention of atrocity on Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes Act. This is serious thing. It is an attempt to divert the investigation. Let copy of this order be forwarded to DySP. (SC/ST Cell), Mehsana, for necessary action in the matter.”

SPECIAL ATROCITY CASE NO. 197/97 RAJKOT 22/11/99 (Annexure - 7)

 In this case the court observed, “The Investigating officer had gone to the village Umrali and had made enquiry with the witnesses and had made notes in this regard. The said notes were torn and destroyed and thus deprived the accused and this Court from appreciating the important piece of evidence …. This fact speaks volumes of negligence on the part of police in investigation.”

JUDGEMENT AGAINST POLICE FOR MAKING FALSE STATEMENT

ATROCITY CASE NO. 71/02 PATAN
“It appears from the deposition made by the prosecution witness No. 9 in his cross-examination that the facts stated are either inadvertently erroneous or intentionally false statements have been made in order to help the accused. In the judgment rendered in Sessions Case No. 27/03, this court has noted that the police officers of this district are deliberately making false statements in cross-examination. This observation is endorsed by the aforesaid facts.”

Thus, quoting from several judgments that the police officials make false statement in the courts, in the aforesaid case also the court observed that the ASI has made false statement in order to protect the upper caste accused. Despite demand made by the Council for Social Justice along with supportive judgments for taking action under section 4 of the Atrocities Act against the then DSP and other responsible police officers no action has been taken even after several months. (P. 10 para-16)

5. CRIMINAL NEGLIGENCE OF DISTRICT SUPERINTENDENTS OF POLICE:

The study of all these judgments clearly shows that the District Superintendents of Police have passed on the responsibility to their subordinates with full liberty to do whatever they like. The DSPs have deliberately neglected their legal duty and have behaved irresponsibly and have shown deliberate dereliction towards duty. Thus the DSPs have committed serious offence under section 4 of the Act. In several Judgments the courts have made serious criticism against such police official.

SPECIAL ATROCITIES CASE NO. 61/01 JAMNAGAR
In this case the court held, “even if the officer may be of the rank of DySP, under the provisions of Rule-7, as he is not appointed by the Government or any authority to carry out the investigation, he can not undertake investigation of the offence… Therefore, the entire investigation of the offence itself is illegal. Based on such illegal investigation, no accused can be linked with the offence or held guilty of offence.” (Annexure – 8)

ATROCITY CASE NO. 51/2000 AHMEDABAD CITY (Annexure – 9)
In this case the court observed that, “The Assistant Commissioner of Police is equivalent to the Deputy Superintendent of Police. However, according to his admission he has not carried out the investigation of the offence and therefore, the provisions of Rule-7 appear to have been violated.” The court acquitted the accused.

CRITICISM FOR NOT COMPLETING INVESTIGATION WITHIN TIME LIMIT:
“The Rule-7 (2) contains a specific direction that the investigation of such offences should be completed on priority basis within 30 days and the report thereof should be submitted to the District Superintendent of Police. In case there is any delay in investigation, the investigating officer is required to state the reasons for the delay in his report. Ignoring this specific direction, in number of cases without assigning reasonable reasons for the delay in investigation, the reports are produced in the court; the courts have taken serious cognizance of the delay tactics on the part of prosecution and have made serious observation in the judgments. Some of such Judgments are as under:”

SPECIAL ATROCITY CASE NO. 406/02, PATAN
 “The alleged incident took place on 03/09/99 whereas the charge sheet after investigation has been filed on 23/09/99 which is clearly beyond the period of one month. In such circumstances, the provisions of Rule-7 are violated. In this view of the matter, the offence under section 3(1) (10) of the Atrocities Act is not established...” (P. 11 Para. 19)

7CONVICTION UNDER CRIMINAL LAW, ACQUITTAL UNDER ATROCITIES ACT
The accused who are held guilty for the serious offences like murder, rape and causing grievous hurt etc. and convicted for such offences under criminal law, the same accused are acquitted and held innocent for the offence under the Atrocities Act for the reasons that the investigation was carried out in violation of statutory provisions by the officer below the rank of DySP or that the prosecution has not produced caste certificate and consequently the offence as though proved. The accused is acquitted merely on account of negligence on the part of police. There are several Judgments where the courts have acquitted the accused under Atrocities Act And held guilty under criminal law. In such judgments, the court has made critical observations for the negligence of the police. Some of such judgments are as under:

SPECIAL ATROCITY CASE NO. 39/01, KHEDA DISTRICT, D.7/5/04
In this case the court observed that, “The substantial investigation into the offence in this proceeding is carried out by the police Sub-Inspector Shri Jhala, and thereafter some investigation has been done by the DySP Shri Nathani and thus, the entire investigation has not been carried out by the officer of DySP level. In this view of the matter, the provision of section 7 of the Scheduled castes & Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act is violated.”

From the above judgments, it is clearly established that thought the offence under Atrocities Act is supported by the evidence, meaning thereby, though the offence is proved, the court has no other alternative but to acquit the accused merely because of negligence on the part of police authority, the provision of the Act is violated This fact has been clearly noted by the Court.

(B) NEGLIGENCE OF GOVERNMENT ADVOCATES

(1) HOSTILE APPROACH OF THE PUBLIC PROSECUTORS

Special courts have been constituted for the offences under Atrocities Act. The Atrocities Act provides for appointment of special public prosecutors for trying the cases under Atrocities Act. The special public prosecutors appointed under this Act are required to play a very important role. The experience is however tragic that the cases which have been taken up for hearing drag indefinitely. When the complainant villager from scheduled castes or scheduled tribes enters the witness box to depose in respect of his age old complaint, s/he does not even know who is his/her advocate (i.e. Public Prosecutor) and who is the rival advocate. The poor, illiterate complainant experience mental trauma and the rival advocate cleverly exploit the situation. Before proceeding with the case, it is the duly of the Govt. advocate to establish contact with the complainant and explain him/her the contents of his statement and also guide him properly for effective adjudication of the case. In most of the cases, it has been observed that the accused are acquitted merely on account of negligence on the part of public prosecutors. We have come across several shocking judgments where the public prosecutors have themselves advocated contrary to the provisions of Atrocities Act.

In several Judgments the courts have made very serious observations against such public prosecutors. Some of such judgments are as under:

SPECIAL ATROCITY CASE NO. 151/2002, PATAN
 “The learned advocate Shri S.H. Thakkar for the prosecution has contended that the word “shall” appearing in Rule-7 of Atrocities Rules cannot be considered to be mandatory but directive as far as possible, because the officers of the rank of Dy.S.P.in the district, more particularly in Patan, are only two. So, in view of other offences it is not possible on all other fronts.” (P. 14, Para 15)

SPECIAL ATROCITY CASE NO. 48/2002, PATAN
“I do not agree with the arguments of learned Additional P.P. Shri P.A. Rana that the compliance of Rule-7 is not mandatory and that non-compliance of the same would have serious effect.”  (P.15, Para 15)

(2) JUDGEMENTS BASED ON AMENDMENTS MADE BY STATE GOIVERNMENT

SPECIAL ATROCITY CASE NO. 39/2000, AMRELI DISTRICT, 20/3/2003
“The Government of Gujarat has in the year 1999 passed resolution amending the Atrocities Act 1989 whereby the investigation can be undertaken even by a police officer not below the rank of “P.I.” In the instant case, the case has been investigated by a P.S.I., who is lower in rank of DySP and P.I.” (P. 28, Para No. 10)

SPECIAL ATROCITY CASE NO. 60/90 KHEDA DISTRICT, 2003/2003
“As per the provisions of Atrocities Act, DySP has to investigate but, there is no provision to suggest that other officer except DySP cannot investigate.”

ATROCITY CASE NO. 155/1998 MEHSANA DISTRICT, 31/7/2002
 “Here the case of the defense is that the investigation has been done by the officer below the rank of DySPand therefore the case against accused cannot be proceeded. I do not agree with this contention because by Exhibit 18 the P.S.O. has ordered investigation and accordingly the P.I. of Kalol had sent report to the DySP (Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes) at Mehsana for carrying out investigation and the said report is produced by Exhibit 20. Thus, it appears that investigation has been carried out by DySP. Moreover, even the officer below the rank of DySP can also now undertake investigation and notification to this effect has already been issued. Therefore, I do not accept the contention that the case cannot be preceded because the investigation has been carried out by the officer below the rank of DySP.”

(3) NEGLIGENCE OF GOVERNMENT ADVOCATES:
As per the decisions and guidelines issued by the Supreme Court and various High Courts, in the cases of atrocity under Atrocities Act, it must be proved in the court that the complainant belongs to the scheduled caste or scheduled tribe and that the accused does not belong to the scheduled caste or scheduled tribe and that the incident involved is the direct result of the caste controversy and that the accused while committing the offence was aware that the victim-complainant was from scheduled caste or scheduled tribe.

All these facts are required to be established before the court by the public prosecutor by asking questions to the accused. He is required to produce the caste certificate of the complainant in the court and he is also required to produce the list of scheduled castes or scheduled tribes and point out to the court that the accused does not figure in the list of scheduled castes or scheduled tribes and thus prove that the accused belong to the upper caste. Normally the people from schedule caste or scheduled tribes coming to the court are poor illiterate, ignorant villagers who are under mental stress.

Moreover they are expected to answer the questions which are asked by the public prosecutor. It is the duty of the public prosecutor to enquire the caste of the complainant and prove before the court that the complainant belongs to the scheduled caste or scheduled tribe He must also establish that the incident took place because of the caste rivalry and then only the incident would be covered by the Atrocities Act. All these things can be done by the public prosecutor and it is the duty of the public prosecutor. In majority of the cases, it is found that the accused have been acquitted merely on the ground that public prosecutor did not ask any question. Some of such judgments are as under:

SPECIAL ATROCITY CASE NO. 375/2002, PATAN DISTRICT
 “It is held by the Supreme Court in the judgment reported in 2000-SCC-722 that in the cases of offence under Atrocities Act. Merely because the victim belonged to the scheduled caste and the accused belonged to the class other than the scheduled caste, the provisions of the Act cannot be made applicable. It must however be proved by the complainant that the victim belonged to the scheduled caste and that the incident took place because of the reason that the victim belonged to the scheduled caste. If anything is done by way of discrimination or untouchability against the people belonging to the scheduled caste, it is prohibited by law. In view of this provision, in the instant case, it does not appear that the alleged incident took place merely because the complainant belonged to the scheduled caste.” (P. 5, Para No. 10)

(C) NEGLIGENCE OF OTHER GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS

We have been making representations to the government for the past ten years with copies of the judgments and the representations have been sent to the Secretary of Home Department, Secretary of Law department. Secretary of Social Welfare department, Director General of Police, Chief Minister Narendra Modi, Social Justice Minister Ramanlal Vora, Law Minister Ashok Bhatt, Home Minister Amit Shah and have demanded action under section 4 of the Atrocities Act against the responsible officers of the government.

We have also made representation to the National commission for Scheduled Caste & Scheduled Tribes, members of parliament; MLAs and Shri Fakirbhai Vaghela have taken serious note of our complaint. But till date no action has been taken by the government. Not only that the Hon’ble courts have passed severe strictures in their judgments against government officers and have issued mandatory directions to the government for taking immediate action against such government officers. The Government of Gujarat has, instead of taking action against erring offices, honored them with promotions. It is very much shocking and surprising that despite having judgments where in 95% of the offences of atrocities are alleged, the Government has till date not taken any action under section -4 of the Atrocities Act against any government officer in the entire state of Gujarat. The administration of the Government of Gujarat has thrown away all the documentary evidences into cold storage and thus provided full-proof protection to the responsible government officers.

Recent situation in Gujarat

There is a consistent rise in the incidences of atrocities on people of scheduled castes particularly in villages during last three years. We take Her Excellency’s kind permission to mention some specific incidences.

1.    Labhu Rajapara, 42, a Dalit in Golasan village in Surendranagar district of Gujarat, had no idea that his son's love affair with an upper caste girl could wreak havoc on his entire family. Six people allegedly burnt his house in December 2010 and the family still has no place to live in.

2.  On April 13 this year, Rajesh Parmar, 18, a Dalit boy originally from Bhavnagar, was reportedly abducted and found dead the next day on the railway tracks at Lathidad railway station. Barwala police (Ahmedabad district) sub-inspector is said to have spoken to the abductor, but nothing was done to save Rajesh. A case of accidental death was lodged later.

3.     In January 2011, several Dalit families were stopped from entering a temple in Rampar village in Surendranagar district. The next day, local shopkeepers refused to sell anything to them. The families are still facing social boycott from upper caste people.

4.     In mid 2010, when a temple was being inaugurated in Vanthal village in Viramgam, some Dalit people tried to participate in the yagna. But they were beaten up and their entire community was thrown out of the village.

5.  In March 2010, in Bavalchudi village in Banaskantha district, a family from Valmiki community was building a house. However, it irked the upper caste community and as a result, 38 Dalit families are now out of the village.

6.In 2009, a Dalit advocate wanted to sing in garba during Navratri in Bhadresinh village in Surendranagar district. And when he tried to enter the temple, he was beaten up.

7. On 14 April 2011, Scheduled Castes students were mercilessly beaten and fractured and then made accused by police. Though, we have submitted a representation with DGP Mr. Chitranjansingh on May 2 2011, till this date no action has been taken against the guilty police. (Annexure – 10)

8.     A scheduled caste youth was murdered by goons recently in Rathel village of Sanand Taluka.

POLITICALLY INFLUENTIAL VESTED INTERESTS ARE SUFFOCATING INVESTIGATIONS

Two FIRs were lodged in two police stations of Panchmahals district and the names of accused were removed from first FIR as the accused are politically powerful persons and one Siddhi Joshi forcibly dragged the victim, a Scheduled caste girl from the police station and the girl could not sign the FIR. Later, the first FIR with the pages of station diary was torn by the PSI who has been suspended by DySP. On 14 November 2011 DHRM sent a letter along with all documents to DGP Mr. Chitranjansingh, but till this date no action has been taken against Siddhi Joshi who is leader of BJP. (Annexure – 11)  

CASTE PREJUDICE POLLUTING EDUCATION FIELD

Even after three years Dr. Pankaj Shrimali, a professor and Ex- Senate member of Gujarat University has been deprived of justice in the case filed against Dr. Parimal Trivedi, Vice Chancellor of Gujarat University. (Annexure – 11) Dr. Shrimali was insulted and humiliated with the most vitriolic casteist remarks by Mr. Parimal Trivedi, who has by his unethical and immoral attitude disgraced one of the most respected and honorable position in the society.

Dr. Pradip Prajapati has been suspended by Mr. Parimal Trivei because he is the only star witness of Dr. Shrimali’s  case. This has also been mentioned in the judgment of Hon’bl University Tribunal. More over, Dr. Pradip Pajapati, ex. senate member, Gujarat University has made several representation to Her Excellency regarding financial irregularities, misdeeds, misappropriation of public money, and corruption of the top officials of the Gujarat University including present vice-chancellor. On the basis of these representations Her Excellency was pleased to get the things inquire through the education department of the Gujarat state and accordingly inquiry committees were instituted by the education department through the office of higher education Commissioner and these inquiry committees have already submitted their reports to the education Department and proved that there is a financial irregularities, misdeeds and corruption from last five years, i.e., the tenure of present Vice Chancellor and Dr. Parajapati has already filed a criminal complaint before the special city civil court (ACB) which is on order.

Our prayer

We pray Her Excellency to fulfill our following demands, if Her Excellency thinks they are just and reasonable:
1.      We pray Her Excellency to immediately terminate Vice Chancellorship of Mr. Parimal Trivedi, as he has disgraced himself and his position.
2.      We pray Her Excellency to intervene in the Atrocity case filed by Mr. Pankaj Shrimali against Mr. Parimal Trivedi by ordering his immediate arrest.
3.      We pray Her Excellency to reinstate Dr. Pradip Prajapati as he has been harassed due to his firm stand in Mr. Shrimali’s case.
4.      We pray Her Excellency to order Gujarat government to submit Action Taken Report of last ten years (or five years or at least in view of above-mentioned matters) on following aspects asking it,

a.     Whether it has identified the areas where it has reason to believe that atrocity may take place or there is an apprehension of reoccurrence of an offence under the Act; if so names of such areas;

b.     Whether it has ordered the District Magistrate and Superintendent of Police or any other officer to visit the identified areas and review the law and order situation; if so how many times and which were the places; and whether it has deployed special force in these identified areas;

c.      Whether it has ordered in the identified area to cancel the arm licenses of the persons, not being member of the Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes, their near relations, servants or employees and family friends and get such arms deposited in the Government Armoury; if so in which cases; and whether it has ordered to seize all illegal fire-arms and prohibit any illegal manufacture of firearms;

d.     whether it has constituted a high power State-level committee, district and divisional level committees or such number of other committees as deem proper and necessary for assisting the Government in implementation of the provisions of the Act; if so the action taken by these committees in the events of atrocities;

e.     Whether it has set up a vigilance and monitoring committee to suggest effective measures to implement the provisions of the Act;

f.       whether by the end of every quarter, it reviews the law and order situation, functioning of different committees, performance of Special Public Prosecutors, Investigating Officers and other Officers responsible for implementing the provisions of the Act and the cases registered under the Act;

g.      Whether it has prepared district-wise panels on the recommendation of the District Magistrates for each District of eminent senior advocates who has been in practice for not less than seven years, as it may deem necessary for conducting cases in the Special Courts and another panel in consultation with the Director- Prosecution in charge of the prosecution, whether it has notified these panels in the Official Gazette of the State;

h.     Whether it has asked The District Magistrate and the Director of prosecution in charge of the prosecution to review at least twice in a calendar year, in the month of January and July, the performance of Special Public Prosecutors so specified or appointed and submit a report to the State Government;

i.       Whether it has asked The District Magistrate and the Officer-in-charge of the prosecution at the District level, to review the position of cases registered under the Act and submit a monthly report on or before 20th day of each subsequent month to the Director of Prosecution and the State Government. This report specifies the actions taken/proposed to be taken in respect of investigation and prosecution of each case;

j.       Whether the Home Secretary and the Social Welfare Secretary to the State Government, Director of Prosecution the officer-in-charge of Prosecution and the Director-General of Police reviews by the end of every quarter the position of all investigations done by the investigating officer;

k.      Whether it has nominated a nodal officer of the level of a Secretary to the Government preferably belonging to the Scheduled Castes or the Scheduled Tribes, for coordinating the functioning of the District Magistrates and Superintendent of Police or other officers authorized by them investigating officers and other officers responsible for implementing the provisions of the Act;

l.       Whether it has appointed in the identified area a Special Officer not below the rank of an Additional District Magistrate to co-ordinate with the District Magistrate, Superintendent of Police or other officers responsible for implementing the provisions of the Act, various committees and the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes Protection Cell;

m.   Whether it has constituted high power vigilance and monitoring committee of not more than 25 members consisting of the following: (i) Chief Minister/Administrator-Chairman (in case of a State under President's Rule Governor-Chairman). (ii) Home Minister, Finance Minister and Welfare Minister-Members (in case of a State under the President's Rule Advisors-Members); (iii) all elected Members of Parliament and State Legislative Assembly and Legislative Council from the State belonging to the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes- Members (iv) Chief Secretary, the Home Secretary, the Director-General of Police, Director/ Deputy Director, National Commission for the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes- Members; (v) the Secretary in-charge of the welfare and development of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes- Convener;

n.     Whether the high power vigilance and monitoring committee meets at least twice in a calendar year, in the month of January and July to review the implementation of the provisions of the Act, relief and rehabilitation facilities provided to the victims and other matters connected therewith, prosecution of cases under the Act, rule of different officers/agencies responsible for implementing the provisions of the Act and various reports received by the State Government. How many times this ‘high power vigilance and monitoring committee has met during last ten years?

In the end we pray Her Excellency to make available the reply given by the state government to us, because we, by our experience with the present political establishment, have come to the conclusion that it is not transparent enough to channel minimum democratic processes.

Yours
Rajesh Solanki

[1] Section – 4 of the Act clearly mentions that, “Whoever, being a public servant, but not being a member of Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes, willfully neglects his/her duties required to be performed by him/her under this Act shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which shall be not less than six months, and, which may extend to one year.”  

[2] Rule 7 investigating officer; (1) an offense committed under the Act shall be investigated by a police officer not below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police. The investigating officer shall be appointed by the state government, Director General of Police, Superintendent of Police after taking into account his past experience, sense of ability and justice to perceive the implications of the case and investigate it along with right lines within the shortest possible time. (2) The investigating officer so appointed under sub-rule (1) shall complete the investigation on top priority within 30 days and submit the report to the Superintended of Police who in turn will immediately forward the report to the Director General of Police of the State Government. (3) The Home Secretary and the Social Welfare Secretary to the State Government, Director of Prosecution, the Officer-In Charge of prosecution and the Director General of police shall review by the end of every quarter the position of all investigations done by the investigating officer.”