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HYDERABAD: To constitute the statutory Commission for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes at the earliest, the government is adopting a two-pronged approach, as the state legislature could not approve the related bill introduced during the closing days of the recent winter session of the assembly.

 

The government will be promulgating an ordinance soon to create the commission, and the matter is likely to come up before the next cabinet meeting for discussion and approval. The government was of the view that the assembly would give its stamp of approval for the bill and the same could be sent to the Centre for its assent, but the session came to an end without even taking up a discussion on the issue.

 

Once the ordinance is promulgated, it will be sent to the Centre for approval, and a modified bill will be introduced in the House, as per the requirement, after the Centre gives its assent to the ordinance.

 

Since the scope of the bill encompasses several provisions like the Criminal Procedure Code, Evidence and Oaths, judicial procedure, social security and inquiries, which are in the Concurrent List, it is required to go through by several ministries at the Centre.

 

On the other hand, the government has approached the Centre with the bill, seeking its approval urgently.

 

In a letter to the Ministry of Home Affairs on January 8, the government said that based on the recommendations of the K Punnaiah Commission of Inquiry, which went into the practice of untouchability, the government wanted to create a Commission for SCs and STs on the lines of the National Commission for Women to perform duties under Clause (5) of Article 338 of the Constitution of India, by giving it a statutory status.

 

“As there is a lot of pressure from the members of the legislative assembly, the government has introduced the bill in the assembly”, the letter said. Since the subject matter of the legislation falls within the scope of some entries in the concurrent list of the Seventh Schedule of the Constitution, the bill should be assented by the Centre.

 

Top government officials told The Times of India that the entire process would take a minimum of one month. “In case the Centre gives assent to the bill, the government would go by it and immediately constitute the commission. If it is delayed further, we will take the ordinance route as it will be promulgated in any case”, the official said.

 

“Our only anxiety is to constitute the commission at the earliest without getting caught in the formalities”, the senior official observed.

 

The government will appoint a judge of the high court, either retired or working, or a Supreme Court judge to head the Commission which will have a three-year term The commission will have the powers of the civil court trying a suit

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