In its periodic report, the Government of India cites to constitutional provisions and legislative measures that open its courts to victims of discrimination.475 These measures include legal services for the indigent and the setting up of peoples courts.476 While the government has enacted such measures, their utility is belied by the insidious nature of caste-based discrimination that has been documented throughout this report, and by the countrys own National Human Rights Commission477a body that India characterizes as the apex national institution to protect human rights and redress grievances.478 On the particular issue of lack of effective remedies for Dalits, the Commission has found that even where cases are properly registered under the Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989 several states are not providing economic relief to victims of atrocities as is required. 479 The NCDHR has also found that Dalit victims have often been unable to benefit from this requirement because police will purposely downplay charges and register atrocities against Dalits under the Indian Penal Code instead of the Act, in order to circumvent the compensation requirement.480 These are but a few examples of the systematic discrimination Dalits endure before all institutions of law enforcementthe very bodies responsible for ensuring their protection (see Section VIII(A)).
475 Government of India, Fifteenth, Sixteenth, Seventeenth, Eighteenth, and Nineteenth Periodic Reports to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, CERD/C/IND/19, paras. 134-55.
477 The NHRC has additionally recommended to the Central Government that it review its facilities like legal aid, implicitly concluding that Dalits are not necessarily the beneficiaries of such services, despite the fact that the vast majority of Dalits are poor. NHRC Report, Section IV, p. 27 (citing recommendations from National Commission on SCs and STs - A Report on the problem of Untouchability, January 1989).
478 Government of India, Fifteenth, Sixteenth, Seventeenth, Eighteenth, and Nineteenth Periodic Reports to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, CERD/C/IND/19, para. 156.
479 The Commission found that even if cases are properly registered under the Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989 several states have failed to provide compensation to victims under the Act. Even though this scheme is sponsored by the Central Government, funding to states is conditional on the states ability to contribute 50 percent of the funding. Due to budgetary constraints and lack of political will, states do not contribute the required amount and thus, lose central funding. Consequentially, the NHRC has concluded that several states are not providing economic relief to victims of atrocities, as the funds spent in these states under the Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989 bears no relationship to the number of atrocities taking place in the states. NHRC Report, Section IV, p. 50.
480 NCDHR Response to the Special Rapporteurs Questionnaire, p. 25.