It so happened that in Chirala, Andhra Pradesh a Dalit Young man Kiran Kumar Yericharla was beaten to death by the police officer and we sent a complaint to National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) using the email address provided on the NCSC Web Portal to report the incident.
In the process of complaining to NCSC about the injustice happened to Kiran and his family, we encountered several issues due to lack of proper functional complaining system on which we based our change.org petition.
"Denying access to justice is injustice" as said by Dr. Mohammed Abad Alrazak. If the oppressed are not provided with a proper platform for complaining, it is a complete denial of justice. Therefore, we want to bring to the notice of all citizens that at present there is no comprehensive online digital portal available at NCSC which is transparent and accountable enough to handle complaints about the violence, injustice, and other atrocities done against the Dalits nationwide.
Earlier NCSC had an online Complaint Monitoring System (NCSC-CMIS) which was operative since June 2012 has been repealed. CMIS was used to register complaints and track, monitor the status of the complaints registered. (Glimpses of the NCSC-CMIS can be found here and here).
We are not sure why the Chair has not taken proper measures to instill a digital comprehensive online complaint portal which is both transparent and accountable, and why the previous online CMIS has been replaced with an unaccountable email to handle complaints.
Apart from sending a petition to the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment and National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC), we found that Change.org was the right platform to bring it to the notice of citizens, policymakers, decision makers and other stakeholders.
Through this change.org petition we are requesting decision-makers to #Restore - NCSC Complaint Management Information System (NCSC-CMIS). Prior to February 2021, if any SC / Dalit victims want to make a complaint about the injustice done to them they have to complain to NCSC through the Gmail address provided on the NCSC Web portal. Email ID mentioned on the website: [email protected].
Through this petition, we have brought it to the kind notice of NCSC about the loopholes, limitations involved if NCSC uses gmail.com as a complaint handling mechanism. As this petition got momentum the decision-makers at NCSC decided to change the e-mail address from [email protected] to [email protected] and domain from gmail.com to giving on 18.01.2021 as demanded by us through this petition. Although NCSC now has a trustworthy e-mail domain (gov.in) suggesting that it is a governmental entity, NCSC still has certain limitations in receiving and processing the complaints.
• Assigning a grievance ID at the first instance for the complaint communicated through email is not possible.
• Even if NCSC acknowledges the receipt of the complaint and be able to provide the Grievance ID pertaining to the complaint, it is quite difficult to track the complaint status using e-mail. Victims lack information regarding the action that is being taken or already taken for the complaint they have sent to the email provided by NCSC. Through this, it is evident that there is no transparency towards the complaints being placed by the victims, that they are unable to know the status of the complaint and which governmental institutional or which concerned officer is dealing with the complaint.
• With the use of the email ID provided by NCSC the complainants are/will be unaware of the measures if NCSC is taking towards addressing their complaints.
• There is no possibility of withdrawing any complaint or making changes or providing additional information and evidence to the complaint if the complainant wants to do so.
• The existing system completely fails in case NCSC wants more information regarding the complaint or needs to get some feedback from the complainant regarding the issue.
• Due to lack of proper complaint system in NCSC that is transparent and accountable, complainants may not be able to trust that they can get justice.
If any victim wants to file a complaint at NCSC State offices they have to travel to the state offices from their place/village/ town. Imagine the plight of the victim to travel to the state office and to meet the concerned officers regarding their complaint.
Due to the nonavailability of an online complaint portal it scuttles and restricts access to justice, which amounts to a denial of justice to the victims.
Very recently National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (NCST) launched Grievance Redressal System - NCSTGRAMS https://ncstgrams.gov.in/
We also expect that through our change.org petition and citizens' collective efforts, the decision-makers act to restore the NCSC-CMIS at the earliest