GRAVE ERRORS OF COMMISSION
Call it a matter of missing guardianship. Even as Madhya Pradesh has emerged as one of the worst affected states in crimes against women, scheduled castes (SCs) and scheduled tribes (STs), statutory bodies meant to protect these vulnerable groups have remained in a limbo for over two years. The MP State Women’s Commission, the MP State SC Commission, the MP State ST commission and the State Backward Classes Commission have been functioning with limited capacity owing to the absence of members, as appointments to them are hostage to a political slugfest between the Congress and the ruling BJP. Consequently, the functioning of commissions that are meant to be first or simultaneous responders in complaints involving vulnerable groups is gravely affected, with cases piling up.
The National Crime Records Bureau’s latest Crime in India 2021 Report has placed MP among the top three worst states in terms of atrocities against SCs and STs and in the top six most affected states visa-vis crimes against women. Out of the 46 scheduled tribes notified in the state, the Baigas, Bharias and Saharias are the most backward, with low literacy rates. Socio-economically, too, they lag behind other tribal communities like the Kols, Bhils and Mundas. The state, which has seen a rising number of atrocities against Dalits and tribals—the murder of five tribal persons in Nemawar in 2021 being the most shocking—also has a low conviction rate of atrocities against SCs/ STs.
But why are the commissions in a state of neardesuetude? The tenure of members and chairpersons of the SC, ST, OBC and women’s commissions made during the previous Shivraj Singh Chouhan government (20132018) ended sometime after 2018. Kamal Nath’s Congress government that followed did not make new appointments immediately.