Citizen’s Vigilance and Monitoring Committee
Online, 1030 – 1300, 27 June 2020
The meeting started with a self-introduction by new participants, and then a quick session on ‘How to use Zoom effectively and good practice’ by Revathy (Finance Coordinator, HRF). She highlighted the basic features in Zoom App like chat box, raise-hand, spotlight, etc. and when to use it.
The meeting was attended by 28 participants from 27 organisations from 27 districts.
Session I: State monitoring mechanisms and officials
Edwin (Director, Programmes, HRF) spoke about ‘State monitoring mechanisms and officials’, the significance of knowing the officers under the Act and their respective roles. The main monitoring officials are the Nodal officer (Rule 9), Special Officer (Rule 10), the in-charge prosecution, the Superintendent of Police, and the judge of the special court. He also explained the composition and responsibilities of main monitoring mechanisms (the vigilance and monitoring committees) at the state (Rule 16), district (Rule 17) and sub-divisional (Rule 17A) levels.
He gave a briefing on Rule 12 (7) of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Rules, 1995, which includes a report of the relief and rehabilitation facilities given to the affected victims by the District Magistrate (the District Collector). The District Magistrate should forward this report to the Special Court or Exclusive Special Court. If the Special Court or Exclusive Special Court thinks the amount of relief or compensation given is not sufficient or it is not provided in due time, then they may order enhanced relief or any other kind of assistance as it deems necessary.
After his session, the floor was opened to clarification.
In sub-divisional vigilance and monitoring committee (SdVMC), a non-Dalit Panchayat President is a member and he is hostile towards the community. How can we handle it?
We should know the eligibility criteria for him being appointed in the SdVMC. If he is appointed in the non-Dalit, non-Adivasi category, then he can be appointed. We should ask what his credentials were to be appointed, and in which category he was appointed. Then we can find out if he meets the criteria, and what his contributions are. Depending on such information and based on that data, we can act.
Can the two experts from NGOs in the SdVMC be from any NGO or only the NGOs who work predominantly for the scheduled communities?
Priority should be given to the NGOs who work for the scheduled communities. But the basic eligibility criteria is to be a member of any NGO.
Who will appoint a Special Public Prosecutor? And what are the prerequisites?
As per Rule 4(1A), the State Government in consultation with the Director Prosecution or in charge of the prosecution, shall appoint a Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) to a Special Court, who posses experience not less than seven years for the purpose of conducting cases pertaining to SCs and STs community. If the victim feels unsatisfied with the government appointed SPP, he/she can appoint a lawyer on his/her behalf, having a minimum of seven years of experience as per Rule 4(5).
If the Special Public Prosecutor (SPP) is not performing his duty effectively, what can we do?
Since the SPPs are appointed after a gazette notification by the state government, we should go back to that gazette notification and check on what basis he was appointed. Then using RTI we should check how many cases he has appeared in and the conviction rate. Then we can ask the government to remove him from the service using Rule 4(3).
Session II: RTI on relief and rehabilitation
Tamilarasi – In our previous RTI letter, we asked questions related to the rights of victims and witnesses (Rule 4(4)(b)) in each district. This week, we will ask about the relief and rehabilitation report (Rule 12(7)).
For which district we must ask questions and who will give the questions?
We shall provide you with the district name and its full address. And we will also provide you with the RTI questions that need to be asked.
The ‘District Magistrate’ in the ‘To Address’, refers to whom?
The District Magistrate is also called as the District Collector. So we put the District Collector’s address on it. Indirectly, we are reminding them of their roles and responsibilities as prescribed in the POA Act.
In this CVMC letter pad, can we ask any other questions?
On this letterhead, in each RTI request, we ask a limited number of RTI questions with the relevant POA sections and rules. If we ask more questions, they might answer one or two questions as per their convenience and leave the rest unanswered. If you want to ask other questions you please send us the draft. We will edit it with appropriate information and send it to you. We will support you in drafting the letter.
Session III: Orientation for new members of CVMC Meeting
It was a separate meeting for the first-time attendees and gave them an overview of the last week’s meeting held on 20th June 2020.
Tamilarasi gave a quick introduction on the purpose of filing RTI applications and how to monitor the officials effectively. Formerly, we worked on issue-basis; i.e. we started our work only when an atrocity took place. Now, we will work towards preventing the atrocity from happening by monitoring the monitors. In addition, she explained about the Citizen’s Vigilance and Monitoring Committee (CVMC), its composition and duties laid down. She also briefed about a draft RTI letter and where to add the address, stamp and other details.
Will you give us the RTI letter as well as the questions?
Yes. We will give you the RTI letter in both Word and PDF formats along with a check-list. You need to download the letter, fill in the necessary details in the yellow-coloured spaces and send it to the concerned office with an acknowledgement card. Before sending, please refer to the check-list and ensure that all information is given. Once the letter is sent, you need to take a photo of the acknowledgement card and RTI letter and forward it to us in WhatsApp ‘POA Core Group’.
If we have already constituted a Citizen’s Vigilance and Monitoring Committee do we need to create a separate CVMC for this initiative?
If your district has already constituted a CVMC, you can go ahead with that. Then there is no need to create a separate CVMC. The RTI letters can be filed using the letterhead with their names.
For a district, only one person should send RTI letters or we can ask other activists to send RTI letters on behalf of us like in Taluk-wise?
There should be only one person sending RTI letters. Even if we ask other activists to do so, we will get the same information only. So it’s not useful.
Can Adivasis be members of the Citizen’s Vigilance and Monitoring Committee (CVMC)?
Yes, of course. CVMC members are all those invested in social justice and human rights.
We will discuss in a separate session on setting up a CVMC, eligibility criteria to become a member, president, secretary, etc.
This session was concluded by Edwin and Tamilarasi thanking the new members for their participation.