Even as the Lokpal Bill engrossed the popular national psyche as the most significant piece of legal enactment, several important legislations got delayed. In a setback to the onward march of social justice, a private members’ Bill to be introduced in Rajya Sabha, was overlooked.
The National Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Special Economic Development Plans) Bill, 2011, proposes to ensure an acceleration of economic growth of SC/Ts by providing additional and special funds for attainment of their overall development on par with the other developed sections of society. It is primarily meant to stop the diversion of funds from the Special Component Plan and the Tribal Sub Plan. It envisages the setting up of authorities at the national, State and district levels to formulate, approve and monitor the welfare and developmental schemes for SC/Ts under special component plans.
A mid term review of the Eleventh Five Year Plan showed that a number of Ministries and Departments were not allocating population proportionate percentage of funds for the SC/Ts in their annual plans in spite of repeated directives by the Planning Commission. The Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Bill further states that in 2005, the National Development Council (NDC) in its 51st meeting resolved that the funds earmarked for the SC/Ts shall not be diverted to general schemes and should also not be lapsed in view of large scale diversion. It is with this objective that the Bill was presented by Member of Parliament Syed Azeez Pasha, and was listed on the day’s agenda to be taken up for discussion in the Upper House on December 9. “The agenda was listed at number 32 and so it never came up for discussion. Only three amendment Bills by the BJP were introduced,,” says Karthik Navayan of the National Dalit Forum.
The Bill proposes to set up a council on the lines of NDC to oversee and review policies. It would prepare Special Central Annual plans and Five Year Plans for SC/Ts . The committee would consist of the Prime Minister as Chairperson, Finance Minister, Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment and Tribal Affairs, Chairpersons of National Commission for SC and ST and Chief Ministers . There would also be nominated experts and scholars working for the upliftment of the SC/Ts.
“This Bill is moved to lay down the legislative framework for a new system. The population-equivalent proportion of the total Plan outlay of the Centre and each State would be set apart before it is allocated sector-wise, ministry-wise or department-wise. A corpus would be created. This corpus would be placed at the disposal of empowered authorities in the Centre and state to undertake Planning for SCs. They would also make allocations for programmes and schemes relevant to SCs and sanction funds within this corpus, in accordance with the needs and priorities of SCs. All this would be done keeping in view the overarching goals of the economic liberation, educational parity at all levels, equality in all parameters, security and social dignity of the SC/Ts,” says Mr Pasha. The Bill has now landed in the archives and can be re-introduced only when taken up by another member.
An important legislation for scheduled castes and tribes misses the bus in Rajya Sabha