V. Article 2: States Parties’ obligation to end caste-based discrimination

A.        Condemn caste discrimination and undertake to pursue by all appropriate means a policy of eliminating caste discrimination

Article 2 (1): States Parties condemn racial discrimination and undertake to pursue by all appropriate means and without delay a policy of eliminating racial discrimination in all its forms and promoting understanding among all races…

The Government of India has not refrained from committing and supporting discriminatory acts against Dalits, and has failed to implement measures to end caste discrimination. India has failed to encourage integrationist movements and has not provided for the development and protection of Dalits, who as a result remain an extremely marginalized social group.

1.  Refrain from committing discriminatory acts

Article 2 (1) (a): Each State Party undertakes to engage in no act or practice of racial discrimination against persons, groups of persons or institutions and to ensure that all public authorities and public institutions, national and local, shall act in conformity with this obligation.

India’s failure to ensure that all public authorities and public institutions do not engage in caste-based discrimination is widespread. The discussion below focuses on two examples that exemplify this failure: treatment of Dalits by the police and discrimination in the provision of disaster relief. Further examples of this failure are dealt with throughout the remainder of the Report.

a.  Dalits and law enforcement

In 2004 the NHRC characterized the law enforcement machinery as the greatest violator of Dalits’ human rights.35 This problem is not a recent one. In 1979 India constituted the National Police Commission to analyze problems in police performance.36 However, the Commission’s recommendations, which include recommendations specific to police abuse of Dalits, have still not been adopted. Police continue to detain, torture, and extort money from Dalits without much fear of punishment.37 According to the NHRC, custodial torture and killing of Dalits, rape and sexual assault of Dalit women, and looting of Dalit property by the police “are condoned, or at best ignored ...”38 Dalits who encounter the police are forced to listen to casteist name-calling, unfounded accusations on their character, and threats against their family and friends.39

While under-reporting of police treatment (including torture) of Dalits means that the real magnitude is unknown, the national Preventing Torture project initiated by People’s Watch, a Tamil Nadu-based NGO, asserts that Dalits suffer disproportionately at the hands of the police and are at high risk of being subjected to torture while in police custody.40 The Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989, and the Supreme Court guidelines set out in the D.K. Basu case (1997)41 are available legal tools to prevent torture, illegal detention, or improper interrogation of Dalits. Jurists, human rights activists, and civil rights groups, however, claim that a lack of political will allows the problem of torture and other forms of custodial abuse to continue unchecked.

i.  Disproportionate targeting of Dalits      

Dalits are disproportionately targeted by the police for a number of reasons. According to the NHRC, under a theory of collective punishment, the police will often subject entire Dalit communities to violent search and seizure operations in search of one individual.42 Dalit communities may also be perceived by the police as inherently criminal.43 Dalits and other poor minorities are disproportionately represented among those detained and tortured in police custody because most cannot afford to pay police bribes.44 Dalits are also likely victims of police misconduct because they are rarely informed of their rights, rarely have access to an attorney, and are not able to afford bail.45 Police officers’ deeply embedded caste bias (most officers belong to the dominant castes)46 and a general lack of familiarity with legislative protections for Dalits further compound the problem.47 

State agencies have also colluded with private actors from dominant castes in committing human rights violations against Dalits.48 Through investigations conducted in 1997 in the state of Bihar, for example, Human Rights Watch found that government officials acted as agents of the Ranvir Sena (a private upper-caste militia) and turned a blind eye to their killings of Dalits.49 Soon after a massacre in Laxampur-Bathe village, Jehanabad district—in which the Ranvir Sena killed 61 Dalits, Naxalites (leftist guerrilla organizations advocating the use of violence to achieve land redistribution) retaliated by killing nine people suspected to be Ranvir Sena supporters. The police responded to the violence by harassing Dalit villagers who they accused of supporting the Naxalites.50 Rather than capturing Sena members, State security forces reportedly helped train militia members; in some cases, police accompanied the militias during their attacks on Dalit villages,51 disguising killings as “encounters.”52 Upper-caste militia members, and the police who colluded with them, have rarely been prosecuted for their crimes.53

ii.  Improper use of security legislation against Dalits

Dalits are particularly vulnerable to arrest under draconian security laws. For example, in at least two states, Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh, the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2002 (POTA)54 was widely used against Dalits, who were targeted for their caste status rather than any involvement in criminal or terrorist activity.55

Dalit activists are also accused of being “terrorists,” “threats to national security,” and “habitual offenders,” and frequently charged under the National Security Act, 1980, the Indian Explosives Act, 1884, and even older counter insurgency laws such the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities (Prevention) Act 1987 (commonly known as TADA).56 Dalit activists are often subjected to specious prosecutions, falsified charges, and physical abuse and torture following arrest.57 Further, following bouts of violence in Bihar between the Ranvir Sena and Naxalites, Dalits were held in preventive detention under India’s Criminal Procedure Code Section 107 in excess of the maximum detention period of 24 hours.58 Similarly, following periods of escalated violence between upper-caste community members and Dalits in Tamil Nadu between July 1995 and June 1996, many Dalit youths were arrested under preventive detention laws like the Tamil Nadu Goondas Act and the National Security Act, 1980.59 Additionally, police also engage in what are called “encounter deaths,” whereby young activists who allegedly support any of the Naxalite or radical left movement organizations are picked up, tortured to extract confessions, and then killed under the pretense of self defense.60 Though upper-caste community members have also been picked up by the police in this manner, they are usually not subject to such harsh treatment as a result of pressure from influential people belonging to their caste.61

iii.  Custodial abuse and torture of Dalits

Dalits, including those arrested for minor offenses, are often held in custody for long periods of time, occasionally at distant and isolated locations to avoid publicity,62 where they are frequently deprived of food and water, subjected to verbal abuse and humiliation, severe beatings, sexual perversities, and demeaning acts. Often the injuries inflicted can prove fatal.63 To cover up custodial deaths, police often claim that the person was killed trying to escape or that he or she died of natural causes.64 Dalits who survive the torture often end up permanently disabled and suffer social ostracism, as well as psychological and emotional trauma.65 

Box 1: Police Abuse of Dalits detained in Tamil Nadu

In one notable incident in 2003, several Dalits were arrested on suspicion of murder and were held at the Thiruthuraippoondi and Thirukkalar police stations in Tamil Nadu between May 10 and 16. In a statement before the Tamil Nadu State Human Rights Commission, the group of Dalits described the abuse they suffered at the hands of the police. As reported by Frontline magazine, the statement included the following account:

The people alleged that they were beaten up and humiliated. The police used abusive language against the complainants, called them by their caste name, beat them with lathis [batons], and kicked them, they said. When one of them asked for water, a police officer asked for a bucket of water, dipped his shoes in it and asked the person to drink it, a statement said. Another victim complained that when he asked for water, a police officer urinated into his mouth.66

iv.  Police abuse of Dalit Women

Dalit women are particularly vulnerable to sexual assault and rape by the police.67 As with sexual abuse of Dalit women by upper-caste men, the sexual abuse of Dalit women by the police is used as a tool to punish Dalit communities as a whole.68 Dalit women have also been arrested and raped in custody to punish their male relatives who are hiding from the police.69 Police also routinely sexually abuse Dalit women during police raids as a means of exerting pressure on their male family members to surrender, give false evidence, retract their complaints, or silence their protests regarding police mistreatment.70 Investigations in Bihar and Tamil Nadu conducted by Human Rights Watch also confirmed that women have been beaten, arrested, and sometimes tortured during violent search and raid operations on Dalit villages.71 Medical personnel often collude in these cases by issuing false certificates that deny sexual assault or by including statements in the medical examination report that cast doubts on the credibility of the victim’s complaint.72

The case of Ms. Lebra is illustrative of this widespread problem. Ms. Lebra, a mother of three, was accused of stealing her upper-caste neighbor’s jewelry in retaliation for refusing to give him crops from her land. When she was called in by the police for questioning, the police officer began molesting her daughter. When she tried to stop him, he grabbed Ms. Lebra’s hair, pushed her down onto the ground and raped her.73 

v.  Police Extortion and Looting

The routine practice of police extortion and looting is well documented.74 Police targeting of Dalits comes about through:

  • Illegal police raids on Dalit villages under the pretext of looking for suspects in the aftermath of caste conflicts. Human Rights Watch has documented a number of such instances.75 

  • Specific targeting of Dalit villages that enjoyed relative economic prosperity. This practice has been documented by Human Rights Watch’s investigation of raids conducted in Gundupatti, Tamil Nadu in February 1998, where the police engaged in outright looting, stealing jewelry, clothes, cash, and consumables from the homes of Dalit villagers who enjoyed relative prosperity due to remittances from family members who were sent to work abroad.76 The looting served two purposes: to line the policemen’s pockets; and to teach Dalits that they should not strive to increase their economic status.

  • The pretense of conducting kurki-japti (legal attachment of movable property). Such seizures do not follow the legal procedures for seizures, such as the presentation of a court order and list of materials to be seized, or the requirement that two witnesses be present during the seizure.77

    Acts of extortion often lead to violence. For example, in 2002 in the Jhajjar district in Haryana, police allegedly killed five Dalits after failing to extort money from them. The Dalit boys, from families traditionally employed in the skinning of dead cows, apparently “refused to pay extortion money for being allowed to carry animal skins.”78 In 2003 three constables and a sub-inspector in Lucknow were suspended and charged with instigating the suicide of a Dalit man. The man committed suicide while being detained by police who were holding him with the intention of extorting money from him.79 In addition to violence, extortion and looting may begin a cycle of borrowing by Dalits that ultimately leads to a state of bondage (see Section VIII(E)(1)(b)).

    vi.  Failure of police to properly register crimes against Dalits

    Police systematically fail to properly register crimes under the Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989 and the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1995. Improper and under-registration of Dalit cases is both a result of police officers’ reluctance to entertain complaints by Dalits, as well as their lack of familiarity with provisions of the relevant legislation.80 For example, according to one study, out of 103 randomly selected atrocity cases against Dalits in the state of Andhra Pradesh from 1999 to 2003, First Information Reports (FIRs)81 were correctly registered in only 18 cases, while 29 were not registered at all.82 In 2002 India reported that in at least 15 states, between 0 - 2 cases had been registered under the Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989.83 Similarly, the Government of India reported that in the same year that no cases were registered under the Protection of Civil Rights Act in 24 states and union territories.84 The National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes has concluded that “a large number of cases of atrocities go unregistered, mainly because of reluctance on the part of police officers to register the cases.”85 The NHRC has confirmed that the lack of registered cases does not represent an actual reduction in the practice of “untouchability.”86

    In addition to non-registration of cases, police routinely engage in improper registration of cases. Dalit cases are often generally registered under the Indian Penal Code, instead of the Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955 and the Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989.87 Moreover, in a distorted interpretation of the Prevention of Atrocities Act, police officials require explicit mention of abuse by caste name for all atrocities.88

    Improper and under-registration of Dalit cases adversely affects case outcomes.89 Cases are less likely to be prosecuted and even when pursued, are more likely to result in acquittal when the police have failed to collect evidence. Perpetrators, if convicted, are punished with a lesser sentence, and/or are likely to be released on bail.90 Further, the appropriate relief may not be available when the proper sections of the law are not cited.91 More broadly, these problems have caused a loss of faith in law enforcement, which further diminishes the number of cases registered.92

    b.  Discrimination in the provision of disaster relief

    According to separate investigations by the National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights and Human Rights Watch, India discriminated against Dalits in distribution of aid in the wake of two of India’s largest natural disasters in recent years: the Gujarat earthquake in January 2001 and the Indian Ocean tsunami in December 2004.

    Following the Gujarat earthquake in January 2001, while the government allocated equal amounts of compensation and food supplies to all communities,93 agencies did not ensure that the assistance went to Dalit communities.94 Dalit and Muslim populations also did not have the same access to adequate shelter, electricity, running water, and other supplies available to the upper-caste population, to whom the government had provided far superior shelter and basic amenities.95 Reconstruction projects were also segregated along caste and religion lines.96

    Following the tsunami in December 2004, the NCDHR and the Human Rights Forum for Dalit Liberation-Tamil Nadu reported that during the initial stages of the relief process, Dalits were not provided proper and adequate guidance on how to gain admission to relief camps, were not given a fair share of relief aid, and were sometimes abused when they demanded equal treatment.97 Dalits’ political voicelessness prevented them from convincing authorities of their losses who maintained that only higher-caste fishing communities were affected by the tsunami.98

    2.  Refrain from supporting private actors committing discriminatory acts and prohibit and bring to an end caste-based discrimination by private actors

    Article 2 (1) (b): Each State Party undertakes not to sponsor, defend or support racial discrimination by any persons or organizations.

    Article 2 (1) (d): Each State Party shall prohibit and bring to an end, by all appropriate means, including legislation as required by circumstances, racial discrimination by any persons, group or organization.

    The Committee has clarified the content of the States Parties’ obligations with respect to private actors, stating that “to the extent that private institutions influence the exercise of rights or the availability of opportunities, the State Party must ensure that the result has neither the purpose nor the effect of creating or perpetuating racial discrimination.”99 In its periodic report India cites to sections of the Indian Penal Code that make punishable acts and statements by private actors instigating or promoting caste (and other forms of) discrimination.100 A number of other legislative efforts to end caste-based discrimination also apply to private actors as well as State actors. However, in relation to private actors’ treatment of Dalits, the State Party has, inter alia, failed to:

  • ensure the security of Dalits, including through its failure to protect Dalits against retaliatory attacks (see Section VIII (B)(1)), its failure to properly register crimes against Dalits (see Section V(A)(1)(a)(vi)), and through its collusion with private actors and militias engaging in violence (see Section V(A)(1)(a)(i));

  • address infringements on social, cultural, and economic rights by private actors, including through failing to deal with violations of the right to work by private employers, including discrimination in hiring and wage payments (see Section VIII(E)(1)(f)),  social and economic boycotts against Dalits (see Section VIII(E)),  prohibitions on inter-marriage (see Section VIII(D)(3)(a)),  and infringements on rights to equal participation in cultural activities (see Section VIII(E)(6));

  • ensure the exercise of political rights such as the right to vote and stand for election and freedom of peaceful assembly and association, by failing to address practices such as booth-rigging and booth capturing, denial of access to polls, and intimidation and violence to discourage participation in local elections (see Section VIII(C));

  • end the practice of segregation, including in housing arrangements and in privately run businesses (see Sections VI and VIII(F)); and

  • eradicate propaganda inciting caste-based discrimination (see Section VII).

    The nexus between political leaders and upper-caste community members account to some extent for these failures and for the disincentive to address violations by private actors. For example, social and economic legislation to further Dalits’ rights adversely affects the interests of the classes and castes to which political leaders either belong or represent; political leaders are either landowners themselves or have close political and social links with land-owners, and those relying on cheap or bonded labor, including child labor.101

    3.  Reform state policies

    Article 2 (1) (c): Each State Party shall take effective measures to review governmental, national and local policies, and to amend, rescind or nullify any laws and regulations which have the effect of creating or perpetuating racial discrimination wherever it exists.

    While the 1950 Constitution abolished the practice of “untouchability” in all its forms, and while specific legislation has been adopted to address caste-based discrimination, the information detailed in this report demonstrates that caste-based discrimination by State and non-State actors persists throughout India and that the State Party has failed to undertake sufficient law and policy review of the under-implementation of these measures.

    4.  Encourage integrationist movements and other means of eliminating barriers between castes, and discourage anything that strengthens caste division

    Article 2 (1) (e): Each State Party undertakes to encourage, where appropriate, integrationist multiracial organizations and movements and other means of eliminating barriers between races, and to discourage anything which tends to strengthen racial division.

    The Government of India has failed to encourage integrationist movements or eliminate barriers between castes. To the contrary, the government has turned a blind eye to segregation in schools (see Sections VIII(E)(5)(a) and VIII(F)(1)(c)), has encouraged segregation in housing (see Section VI(A)), including in relief camps following natural disasters (see Section V(A)(1)(b)), and has failed to faithfully implement constitutional and legislative abolitions of “untouchability” practices. Additionally, as Dalits increasingly organize to protest their discriminatory treatment and claim their democratic rights, the government has improperly used security legislation against Dalit activists (see Section V(A)(1)(a)(ii)), consistently failed to protect Dalits against retaliatory attacks by upper-caste groups, including rape of Dalit women (see Section VIII(B)), and failed to deal with social and economic boycotts against Dalits (see Section VIII(E)), thereby further discouraging integrationist movements. 

    B.        Ensure the development and protection of certain groups or individuals belonging to them

    Article 2 (2): States Parties shall, when the circumstances so warrant, take, in the social, economic, cultural and other fields, special and concrete measures to ensure the adequate development and protection of certain racial groups or individuals belonging to them, for the purpose of guaranteeing them the full and equal enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms. These measures shall in no case entail as a consequence the maintenance of unequal or separate rights for different racial groups after the objectives for which they were taken have been achieved.

    The extreme marginalization and persecution endured by Dalits in India necessitate efforts by the government to ensure their development and protection. In its periodic report, the Government of India cites to Article 16 of the Indian Constitution, which empowers the State to make provision for the reservation of posts in government jobs in favor of any backward class of citizens.102 Accordingly, under constitutional provisions and various laws, India grants Dalits a certain number of privileges, including “reservations” (quotas) in education, government jobs, and government bodies.103 Like many of the protective measures described in this report, the reservation policy has not been successfully implemented for Dalits. Additionally, there has been widespread public opposition to reservations for Dalits in local government bodies, often leading to violence (see Section VIII(C)(2)), and in government jobs that are highly coveted because of the economic security they are perceived as offering,104 as are seats in higher education. Finally, Dalits who convert to Christianity or Islam risk losing their “scheduled caste” status and the few benefits it affords (see Section VIII(D)(5)(a)).

    1.  Failure of compensatory discrimination mechanisms and discrimination in public employment

    Caste-based occupational distribution is reinforced in reserved government employment.105 The NHRC reports that Dalits occupy over 65 percent of the total government posts for safai karmacharis (sweepers)and only 16.7 percent of non-sweeper posts.106 Dalits are also discriminated against when being considered for promotions. Recently, the government has moved to create quotas for promotions for scheduled castes and other backward castes. While the Supreme Court upheld the move, it required that governmental authorities prove that these groups were poorly represented in government positions, that quotas be capped at 50 percent, and that prosperous lower-caste employees be excluded from the plan.107

    Reservations in higher education continue to be met with a great deal of resistance leading to under-enforcement.108 In the country’s 256 universities and about 11,000 colleges funded by the University Grants Commission (an apex body of the Government of India), Dalits and tribals comprise only 2 percent of the teaching positions; about 75,000 teaching positions reserved for these communities remain vacant.109

    2.  Proposals to extend reservations to other sectors

    In its 2004 report the NHRC recommended that the government identify institutions that had not accepted reservations—including judiciary and defense forces—and develop measures to ensure that Dalit candidates had the opportunity to compete for these positions.110 In 2002 the Supreme Court had one Dalit out of 26 judges, while the High Courts had 25 Dalits out of 625 positions111 (see also Section VIII(A)(3)(b)). The National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes has stated that the private sector, which continues to enjoy government patronage—through concessional land, financing, and excise and sales tax relief—should also be brought under the purview of the reservation policy.112

    According to government estimates in 2000, the unemployment rate for Dalits and tribals was double that of non-Dalits/tribals. Additionally, public sector divestment to private owners is estimated to have left 200,000 Dalit employees jobless. Dalits continue to be significantly underrepresented in most professional strata. Dalit representation in India’s high industries, exports, imports, and electronic industries sectors is dismal.113 In response, civil society and government actors have supported the proposed extension of reservations in the private sector. However, there remains strong opposition to this proposal, both from private employers and certain political parties. Private employers have, for example, criticized the government for failing to provide Dalits adequate opportunities in education and instead imposing upon the private sector the obligation to employ individuals they deem unqualified.114

    3.  Poor implementation of development programs

    The Government of India has also established several programs for the development of Dalits.115 According to the NHRC, however, the beneficial impact of these programs has been hindered by:

  • inadequate investment of public resources;

  • non-utilization or diversion of funds earmarked for Dalit development;

  • lack of programs specifically targeted to Dalit development;

  • poor preparation of such projects; and

  • a lack of monitoring of development programs, leading to the failure of many such programs to reach their target groups.116

    The anti-Dalit bias of personnel in charge of implementing these programs has also hindered their effectiveness.117 Moreover, Dalits rarely participate in the formulation and implementation of development projects. Many Dalits are also unaware of the existence of such programs, further restricting their participation.118

    4.  Inadequate development and protection of Dalit women

    The obligation to ensure the development and protection of certain groups or individuals belonging to them is especially relevant for those individuals within the Dalit community who face multiple forms of discrimination. Dalit women face multiple axes of discrimination, with the NCDHR asserting:

    Dalit women are often described as the oppressed of the oppressed, the violence and oppression on them being more complex and manifold even compared to Dalit men. There is [an] inseparable relationship between caste status, occupation and discrimination. The Dalit woman faces triple discrimination because she is an untouchable, of a poor class and is a woman.119

    CERD has also noted that forms of racial discrimination have a “unique and specific impact on women.”120 For more on the violence against Dalit women see Sections V(A)(1)(a)(iv) and VIII(B)(2).

    a.  Lack of gender equity

    Dalit women have unequal access to services, employment opportunities, and justice mechanisms as compared to Dalit men. In relation to employment opportunities, Dalit women are allotted some of the most menial and arduous tasks and experience greater discrimination in the payment of wages than Dalit men.121 The employment opportunities of professional Dalit women may also be limited by discriminatory practices that deprive facilities run by Dalit women of a customer or patient base122 or require accommodation of requests of upper-caste community members.123 In relation to services, Dalit women have less access to education and health facilities,124 ensuring that their literacy rate, and nutrition and health standards fall far below that of Dalit men and non-Dalit men and women.125 The number of Dalit women in decision-making positions is also very low, and in some central services, Dalit women are not represented at all.126 Benefits of various development programs for Dalits, such as distribution of land and other productive assets have essentially gone to Dalit males and have not improved the status of Dalit women.127 Investment in projects targeted to the development of Dalit women is also far lower as compared to those for men.128

    b.  Forced Prostitution – Devadasi system

    The practice of devadasi, in which a girl, usually before reaching the age of puberty, is ceremoniously dedicated or married to a deity or to a temple, continues in several southern states including Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. Literally meaning “female servant of god,”devadasis usually belong to the Dalit community. Once dedicated, the girl is unable to marry, forced to become a prostitute for upper-caste community members, and eventually auctioned into an urban brothel. The age-old practice continues to legitimize the sexual violence and discrimination that have come to characterize the intersection between caste and gender.129 

    While India has adopted measures to abolish the practice and “rehabilitate” devadasis, these efforts have been largely unsuccessful. Legislative initiatives are poorly implemented.130 The societal perception of devadasis as women who are sexually available to men makes it more difficult for devadasis to approach the police with complaints of sexual violence.131 Moreover, the police themselves have been known to exploit devadasis.132

    The Joint Women Programme for the National Commission of Women has found that devadasi rehabilitation programs neither address the whole range of problems faced by devadasis, nor target the population they were intended to assist.133 Further, devadasis find it difficult to earn a livelihood outside the system because the rehabilitation programs do not provide adequate means of livelihood and skill development, and because financial assistance is often in the form of a loan which must be repaid. Most devadasis also lack access to a residential house, health care, or educational facilities for their children.134

    35 NHRC Report, p. 111.

    36 Human Rights Watch, Broken People, p. 32.

    37 Ibid., p. 33.

    38 NHRC Report, Section VI, p. 130.

    39 Vishwanathan, S., “A Tale of Torture,” Frontline, 2-15 August 2003. (accessed February 7, 2007); Vishwanathan, S., “Members of the denotified tribes continue to bear the brunt of police brutality,” Frontline, June 8-21, 2002.

    40 Preventing Torture: From Public Awareness to State Accountability (Grant Application Form) p. 7 (on file with CHRGJ).

    41 D K Basu v State of West Bengal (1997) 1 SCC 416. The Supreme Court of India laid down a series of guidelines in the D K Basu case designed to be preventative measures against torture in all cases of arrest and detention until such time as legislative provisions are made. The Court ordered that the guidelines are to be strictly followed in all cases. The guidelines include: (i) accurate, visible and clear identification and designation of personnel making arrests; (ii) preparation of a memo of arrest containing the time and date of arrest to be witnessed by a member of the family of the arrestee or a respectable person of the locality from where the arrest is made and countersigned by the arrestee; (iii) a right of arrestees to have someone concerned with their welfare be made aware of the fact of their arrest; (iv) a right to have the time, place of arrest and venue of custody notified by the police where the next friend or relative of the arrestee lives outside the district or town through the Legal Aid Organisation in the District and the police station of the area concerned telegraphically within a period of 8 to 12 hours after the arrest; (v) a right of arrestees to be informed of the right to have someone informed of his arrest or detention as soon as he is put under arrest or detained; (vi) a requirement to keep a record of the name of the arrestee and the person informed of the arrestee’s detention; (vii) a right of the arrestee to be physically examined upon his request, to have his injuries recorded, and for the “Inspection Memo” to be signed both by the arrestee and the police officer effecting the arrest and its copy provided to the arrestee; (viii) examination of the detainee by a trained doctor every 48 hours during custody; (ix) a requirement for copies of all documents, including the memo of arrest, refereed to in the guidelines to be sent to the Illaqa [District] Magistrate for his records; (x) a right of access of arrestees to a lawyer during, though not throughout, interrogation; (xi) and maintenance of a control room in all district and State headquarters, where information regarding the arrest and the place of custody of the arrestee shall be communicated by the officer causing the arrest, within 12 hours of effecting the arrest and displayed on a conspicuous notice board in the control room. Failure to comply with the requirements of the D K Basu guidelines renders the police officers concerned liable for departmental action, and for contempt of court proceedings. The requirements flow from Articles 21 and 22(1) of the Indian Constitution and thus must be strictly followed according to the Supreme Court. Ibid.

    42 NHRC Report, Section VI, p.116.

    43 Ibid., pp.116-17.

    44 Human Rights Watch, Broken People, p. 127.

    45 Ibid., p.154, see also NHRC Report, Section VI.

    46 Ibid., p.118.

    47 Ibid.

    48 Ibid., p.111 from National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights, National Public Hearing, April 18-19, 20(X), Chennai, Vol. I - Summary: Jury’s Interim Observations and Recommendations, pp. 309-317.

    49 Human Rights Watch, Broken People, p. 43.

    50 Ibid., pp. 64-65.

    51 Ibid., p. 43.

    52 Ibid., p. 44.

    53 Ibid.

    54 “The Prevention of Terrorism Act of 2002 (POTA) allowed the government to prosecute acts of terrorism largely outside the ordinary rules of the regular criminal justice system.” Anil Kalhan, Gerald P. Conroy, Mamta Kaushal, Sam Scott Miller, and Jed S. Rakoff, “Antiterrorism And Security Laws In India: A Report To The Association Of The Bar Of The City Of New York On A Research Project For The Committee On International Human Rights,” 2006, page iv. While India repealed POTA in 2004, many of the law’s provisions have been preserved in other legislation and similar laws remain in place at the central and state levels. Ibid.

    55Ibid., p. 75. A fact-finding team of Indian human rights advocates and the Indian news media examined the use of POTA in Jharkhand in early 2003. According to the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, the fact-finding team found that:

    In Andhra Pradesh, POTA was not invoked at all in the first year after its enactment, but after that, approximately 50 cases were initiated, allegedly involving between 300 and 400 individuals as of March 2004. In many of these cases, the individuals charged appear not to have been involved in any criminal activity at all, but rather have been targeted simply for their caste or tribal status alone. In other cases, the allegations against these Dalit, other lower caste, and tribal individuals under POTA appear to bear little relationship to terrorist or insurgent violence.

    Ibid., pp.76-77.

    56 Human Rights Watch, Broken People, p. 153.

    57 Ibid., pp. 153-154.

    58 While the Supreme Court of India has ruled that preventive detention cannot last for more than 24 hours, in many cases it takes 15 to 30 days to get a lawyer. Moreover, while the charges are bailable, arrested Dalits have no property or surety for the bail; as a result, they remain in jail for long periods of time. Ibid., p. 73.

    59 Ibid., p. 96.

    60 NHRC Report, Section VI, p. 115, citing National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights, Chennai Hearing, op. cit., 267-269.

    61 Ibid.

    62 Vishwanathan, S., “A Tale of Torture,” Frontline.

    63 NHRC Report, Section VI, p. 114.

    64 Ibid., 114 citing SAKSHI, op. cit., pp. 90-91; National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights, Chennai Hearing, op. cit., pp 73-76; Human Rights Watch, op. cit., pp. 115-121.

    65 Vishwanathan, S., “A Tale of Torture,” Frontline;  “Dalit academic ‘manhandled’ in police custody,” The Hindu,  August 1, 2001, p. 12; “Youth Alleges Custodial Torture,” Financial Times Information, June 20, 2005, p. 67; Sudhakar, P., Residents protest Dalit death, allege torture,” The Hindu, June 17, 2003, p. 50; “India: Dalit’s death after police torture alleged,” The Hindu, September 1, 2000, p. 16;  Naqvi, Bobby, “Dalit tortured by cops for three days,” Hindustan Times, September 11, 2000, p. 40; “Minor dies, alleges sexual abuse in remand home,” Indo-Asian News Service, August 24, 2005, p. 39; Viswanathan, S., “Members of the denotified tribes continue to bear the brunt of police brutality,” Frontline, June 8-21, 2002, p. 63.

    66 Vishwanathan, S., “A Tale of Torture,” Frontline. In another notable incident, police officers allegedly poured petrol on a 50-year-old Dalit farmer in Barabanki, Uttar Pradesh, and burnt his private parts after beating him continuously for three days. Naqvi, “Dalit tortured by cops for three days,” Hindustan Times. Bhim Dom, a 12-year-old Dalit boy from Bhijpur, Bihar who was sent to a remand home on charges of petty theft, committed suicide after alleging that he was regularly beaten and sexually abused by officials. “Minor dies, alleges sexual abuse in remand home,” Indo-Asian News Service, August 24, 2005, p. 39.

    67 NHRC Report, Section VI, p. 130.

    68 Human Rights Watch, Broken People, p. 166.

    69 Ibid., p. 166.

    70 NHRC Report, Section VI, p. 116.

    71 Human Rights Watch, Broken People, p. 166.

    72 NHRC Report, Section VI, p. 120.

    73 “Rape of Dalit Woman at Police Station,” Case Papers: Summary Jury’s Interim Observations & Recommendations, National Public Hearing, April 18-19, 2000, Chennai-Tamil Nadu, Vol. 1, p. 177.

    74 Human Rights Watch, Broken People, p. 80. The prevalence of extortion is intimately related to the fact that many police officers need to pay large bribes to secure their position in the police force. As a result, many police officers begin their careers in severe debt that they attempt to pay off by extorting money from civilians or by engaging in outright acts of looting. Ibid., pp. 80-81. Moreover, police officers often accept bribes from upper-caste perpetrators to ignore their crimes against Dalits. NHRC Report, Section VI, p. 119.

    75 During a police raid on the village of Makarpur in Jehanabad district, Bihar, in January 1998 the police arrested and illegally detained seven young men and then extorted a sum of Rs. 5,500 (US$138) before releasing them. Ibid., p. 81. In another incident in Nagwan village, in Patna district, Bihar, two people were threatened with criminal charges unless they agreed to pay Rs. 900 (US$22.50). Ibid.

    76 Ibid., p. 83.

    77 Ibid., p. 81.

    78 Rahul Chhabra, “Police clueless about culprits behind Jhajjar killings,” The Economic Times, October 19, 2002.

    79 “Cops arrested as man dies in custody,” The Economic Times, July 4, 2003.

    80 NHRC Report, Section IV, p. 45.

    81 FIRs (First Information Reports) are the initial reports of a crime recorded by the police.

    82 NCDHR Response to the Special Rapporteur’s Questionnaire, p. 27 (citing the results of a study conducted by the Andhra Pradesh-based NGO Sakshi).

    83 Annual Report On The Scheduled Castes And The Scheduled Tribes (Prevention Of Atrocities) Act, 1989 For The Year 2002 (Nineteenth Report) Government Of India, Ministry Of Social Justice And Empowerment, New Delhi, p. 4-5. (accessed February 7, 2007).

    84 Annual Report On The Protection Of Civil Rights Act, 1955 For The Year 2002 (Twenty Second Report) Government Of India,  Ministry Of Social Justice And Empowerment, New Delhi, p. 2 (accessed February 7, 2007).

    85 National Commission on Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, Sixth Report, 1999-2000 & 2000-2001, New Delhi, p. xii, cited in NCDHR Response to the Special Rapporteur’s Questionnaire, p. 4.

    86 NHRC Report, Section IV, p. 25 (referring to the lack of registered cases under the Protection of Civil Rights Act).

    87 NCDHR Response to the Special Rapporteur’s Questionnaire, p. 4; NHRC Report, Section IV, p. 45 (citing Information gathered from the Senior Research Officer, National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes).

    88 NHRC Report, Section VI, p. 118.

    89 There are numerous points in the processing of a complaint at which the police can improperly affect the case outcome. These include not registering the case; pressuring the complainant to compromise; lodging false counter charges against victims; refusing to register cases under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 or not citing the proper sections of the Act; registering the First Information Report (FIR) but not arresting the accused; assigning a lower ranked police officer against the specific stipulation of Rule 7(1); delaying the investigation and filing of a charge sheet; and the granting of bail in contravention to stringent Act requirements. NHRC Report, Section VI, p. 117 (citing National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights, Chennai Hearing).

    90 Ibid., p. 117.

    91 Ibid., p. 117.

    92 Ibid., Section IV, p. 25.

    93 Human Rights Watch, Caste Discrimination: A Global Concern, Earthquake in Gujarat: Caste and its Fault-Lines, September 2001, (accessed February 7, 2007), p. 6.

    94 “Relief and Discrimination after the Gujarat Earthquake,” Dalit Solidarity Network-UK & Voice of Dalits International (VODI) (May 2001).

    95 Human Rights Watch, Caste Discrimination: A Global Concern, p. 6.

    96 Ibid.

    97 Human Rights Watch, After the Deluge: India’s Reconstruction Following the 2004 Tsunami, Vol. 17, No. 3, May 2005, (accessed February 7, 2007), p. 25.

    98 NCDHR Response to the Special Rapporteur’s Questionnaire, p. 17; Human Rights Watch, After the Deluge, p. 2. Members of the fishing communities prohibited Dalits from staying in common camps, from taking shelter in community halls or temples, from using the drinking water tanks provided by UNICEF, and from accessing food provided by relief organizations or the local community. NCDHR Response to the Special Rapporteur’s Questionnaire, p. 17. Authorities in parts of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu provided Dalits with less relief and support than other victims, and Dalit areas were the last to have electricity and water supplies restored during rehabilitation efforts. There were also allegations that officials discriminated against Dalits in the provision of financial assistance to the families of the deceased. “India – End Caste Bias in Tsunami Relief,” Human Rights Watch Press Release, January 14, 2005, (accessed February 7, 2007).

    99 CERD General Comment XX – Non-discriminatory implementation of rights and freedoms (Art. 5), para. 5.

    100 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. 51-52.

    101 NHRC Report, Section VI, p. 125.

    102 Government of India, Fifteenth, sixteenth, seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth periodic reports of the Republic of India, due on 4 January 1998, 2000, 2002, 2004, and 2006 submitted in one document on Jan. 26, 2006, CERD/C/IND/19, para. 101 (March 29, 2006).

    103 Human Rights Watch, Broken People, p. 23. India’s policy of reservations is an attempt by the central government to remedy past injustices related to low-caste status. To allow for proportional representation in certain state and federal institutions, the constitution reserves 22.5 percent of seats in federal government jobs, state legislatures, the lower house of parliament, and educational institutions for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. Ibid., p. 40. An amendment to the Constitution also enables reservations for scheduled castes and scheduled tribes in village councils and municipalities, and no less than one-third of reserved seats to be allocated to scheduled caste and scheduled tribe women. Constitution of India, Articles 243D and 243T. 

    104 Sanjoy Majumder, “Indian Court Upholds Caste Quotas,” BBC News, Oct. 19, 2006. (accessed February 7, 2007).

    105 NHRC Report, Section VII, p. 137.

    106 Ibid., p. 137.

    107 Majumder, “Indian Court Upholds Caste Quotas,” BBC News.

    108 NHRC Report, Section VII, p. 139.

    109 Ibid., p. 139.

    110 NHRC Report, Section VII, p. 141.

    111 “President’s No on Chhattisgarh Judges,” Indian Express, February 3, 2002.

    112 Human Rights Watch, Broken People, p. 4 (citing National Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, Highlights of Fourth Report (New Delhi, Government of India, 1998)).

    113 NCDHR Response to the Special Rapporteur’s Questionnaire, p. 20.

    114 Priyanka Bhardwaj, “India debates private sector quotas”, Asia Times Online, February 7, 2006. (accessed February 7, 2007).

    115 Dalit development programs have included the Special Component Plan for Scheduled Castes (mechanism for ensuring that states allocate adequate resources to Dalit development), Special Central Assistance to Special Component Plan for Scheduled Castes (supplement to states’ efforts by providing additional support to Dalit families to enhance their productivity and income), and the Special Component Plan by the Central Ministries (plan in which Central Ministries are to ensure that 15 percent of their Five Year and Annual Plans goes toward Dalit development), as well as financial institutions, employment generation programs, and welfare programs targeted toward Dalits. NHRC Report, Section VIII, pp. 162-72.

    116 Ibid., pp. 173-74.

    117 Ibid., p. 175.

    118 Ibid., pp. 175-76.

    119 NCDHR Response to the Special Rapporteur’s Questionnaire, p. 14.

    120 CERD General Comment XXV - Gender-related dimensions of racial discrimination, para. 3.

    121 Shah, et al., Untouchability in Rural India, pp. 117-18. For example, in Kerala, Dalit women report that they are tasked with breaking the roasted cashew nuts produced in factories—a job which over time deforms and stains their palms and fingers. Ibid.

    122 Ibid. In Tamil Nadu, for example, Dalit women report that the upper-caste families do not send their children to the community centers that are run by Dalit women. Ibid.

    123 The study also reports that in the village of Telipalash (Kalahandi, Orissa), a Dalit woman, Pralaya Senapti, is the auxiliary nurse-midwife—great achievement for a Dalit woman. However, after administering medicines and immunizations to upper-caste women and children in the non-Dalit hamlet, her patients bathe and change their saris to purify themselves after she leaves. They ask Senapti to come early in the morning so that they may deal with her before their morning bath. If she must come later in the day, they will not accept medicines directly from her hand. Senapti told the survey-takers: “I do my work sincerely. I feel so insulted by this behavior.” Ibid., p. 128. See also Section VIII(E)(4).

    124 NHRC Report, Section VIII, p. 160.

    125 NCDHR Response to the Special Rapporteur’s Questionnaire, p. 15.

    126 NHRC Report, Section VIII, p. 161.

    127 For example, a large number of women engage in the traditional Dalit occupation of manual scavenging. However, development programs that have been targeted at families to eliminate manual scavenging have been utilized by male family members to change occupations, leaving women to continue manual scavenging to enhance household income. NHRC Report, Section VIII, pp. 161-62.

    128 NHRC Report, Section VIII, p. 162. The Government of India has recognized that:

    the incidence of poverty amongst SCs [Scheduled Castes] still continues to be very high with 36.25 percent in rural areas and 38.47 percent in urban areas, when compared to 27.09 and 23.62 percent respectively, in respect of total population in 1999-2000. This is primarily due to the fact that a large number of SCs who are living below the poverty line are landless with no productive assets, no access to sustainable employment and minimum wages. While these figures reflect the picture for the entire SC population, the women belonging to these groups suffer even more because of the added disadvantage of being denied equal and minimum wages.

    India’s Combined second and third periodic reports to CEDAW, October 19, 2005, CEDAW/C/IND/2-3.

    129 Human Rights Watch, Broken People, p. 150.

    130 For example, the Karnataka state government passed the Karnataka Devadasi (Prohibition of Dedication) Act in 1992, however, not a single case has been booked against priests despite many complaints and admonitions to that effect. NHRC Report, Section V, p. 61.

    131 “When a devadasi is raped, it is not considered rape. She can be had by any man at any time.” Human Rights Watch interview with Jyothi Raj, Rural Education and Development Society, Bangalore, July 26, 1998, in Human Rights Watch, Broken People, p. 152.

    132 Jyothi Raj added that the law works to the disadvantage of women because it criminalizes their actions and not the actions of their patrons. Police will even go so far as to demand sex as a bribe: “They will threaten to file charges under the act if the woman says no.”  Ibid.

    133 Only a small number of devadasis have been identified for relief and rehabilitation. NHRC Report, Section V, p. 62.

    134 Ibid.