National Dalit Movement for Justice (NDMJ), a unit of Swadhikar is spearheading a nation-wide movement for asserting the civil and political rights of Dalits and Adivasis in India. It is a democratic, secular, non-party movement of Dalits survivors, defenders, academics and organisations headed by Dalits to initiate, advocate and involve in mass action to address the issues of caste based discrimination
and violence primarily un-touchability and atrocities to ensure dignity, equality and justice . NDMJ works with executive, judiciary, policy makers and communities for protection and promotion of human rights of Dalits and Adivasis. It adopts multi-pronged strategies and intervenes at multi-level for ensuring access to justice to those affected by atrocities and discrimination in 20 states of India.
The three core objectives of NDMJ are-
- To ensure effective implementation of the existing policies and legislation for promotion and protection of rights of Dalits and Adivasis communities against discrimination and violence.
- To build campaign and advocacy for strengthening legal framework and policy reforms for protection of rights of Dalits and Adivasis communities
- To promote and strengthen the agency of community led organisations, defenders, Advocates, activists etc for increased assertiveness for claiming justice
Area of Work
“So long as you do not achieve social liberty, whatever freedom is provided by the law is of no avail to you.” National Dalit Movement for Justice (NDMJ) works with the criminal justice administration systems to address the issues of access to justice for those affected by atrocities and violence. The main vehicle employed is the SC/ST POA Act and NDMJ advocates for penal and pecuniary strengthening of the law for the survivors and victims who use to access justice. In the year the focus area of work was monitoring the cases of violence to ensure access to justice by building capacities of Dalit Human Rights Defenders. The major thematic areas covered in this year was Dalits Human Rights Monitoring and Legal intervention, Violence against Dalit women, Promotion and Protection of Child Rights, Capacity building of Defenders and its protection, Rights of Criminal Defendants and Undertrials and Campaign and Advocacy.
The year 2017-18, has been a challenging year; the emerging complexities of the socio-economic and political environment have increased the vulnerabilities of Dalits and Adivasis. There has been increase in violence due to rising assertion and demand for entitlements by the Dalits and Adivasis.The shrinking space of civil society organisations and threat to ‘Freedom of Expression’ are also major concerns for
human rights based organisations like NDMJ. With the change in the context, increased and subtle changes in forms of violence and discrimination, NDMJ also reflected and reviewed its strategies and approaches in accordance to the needs of the communities, it redefined its core thematic areas and re-startezied interventions for ending caste based discrimination.
Fact Finding Missions
Cases of Atrocities: NDMJ successfully intervened in selected atrocities cases with Dalit human rights
monitoring strategies (DHRM). This year NDMJ conducted 234 fact findings missions, provided legal
aid, and supported the survivors in receiving compensation and relief and rehabilitation. The survivors
were supported during the whole continuum starting from case registration till the hearings in the
court. This enhanced the capacity of the defenders and activists to pressurize and influence the
institutions to implement their mandated constitutional roles for the protection and promotion of
Dalits and Adivasis.
Unlawful detention and false charges: The wrongful detainment and incarceration of Dalits and Adivasis
communities is an area of blatant human rights violation of Dalits and Adivasis rights by the state. 6 fact
findings missions in the cases were Dalits were falsely implicated or unlawfully detained in the state of
Rajasthan and Tamil Nadu were conducted. In almost all the cases representations have been submitted
to the concerned authorities and cases are being followed up by the partners.
NDMJ has been organising Legal Clinics to create a survivor friendly space where the survivors, witnesses, defenders ,
advocates and legal experts congregate for discussing the facts and status of the atrocities cases for strategising legal
action and its follow up.In this year, we organized 11 legal clinics in the states of Bihar, Delhi, Karnataka, Maharashtra
,Odisha, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh, and provided support in 132 critical cases.
The preparation of legal clinic includes providing support to the survivors in drafting complaints, case
registration, legal guidance and assistance throughout the process. After the legal clinic, the cases are
effectively followed up by the associated advocates and defenders.The legal clinics have strengthened
the relations and inculcated sense of confidence and solidarity among the survivors, advocates and Dalit
human rights defenders.
Advocates Forum and Legal Resource Centres
NDMJ is bringing committed Dalits and Adivasis advocates together and forming state level advocates
forums which are effective platform for intervening in the Dalits atrocities cases and counter the
Legal Intervention prevalent caste based discrimination in courtrooms. This year 11 consultations were organised for
promoting advocate forums and building their prosecution capacities. More than 415 advocates were
mobilised this year across different states for forming state level advocates forums. These advocates are
playing major role in generating awareness and monitoring the implementation of SCs and STs (PoA)
Amendment Act 2015 and other legislations at ground level.
To promote the Advocates forums, five Legal Resource Centres (LRC’s) were established in Andhra
Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh in collaboration with State partners for
providing support to the Dalits and Adivasis advocates in intervening in the Dalits and Adivasis atrocities
cases. The LRCs have provided numerous opportunities to the new and young associated advocates to
enhance their legal knowledge, skills and calibre necessary for case prosecution. As of now 120
advocates are associated with the LRCs.
Special Public Prosecutors
The legal centres major milestone has been spearheading a movement of ‘Appointment of Special Public
Prosecutors’ (Section 15 of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities Act), 1989 and Rule 4(5) of
Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Rules, 1995) for intervening in Special courts.
This is very significant measure as it empowers the Dalits and Adivasis survivors to file petitions for appointment
of Special Public Prosecutors (SPP) of own choice in critical atrocity cases. The LRCs also snowballing its
scope of intervention with its initiatives of organising legal awareness camps, filing appeals, write petitions and public interest litigations for the larger benefit of the Dalits and Adivasis communities. In this year, we filed 37 applications for SPP Appointment and received order of SPP appointment in 11cases.
1 National level (Delhi) and 3 State level legal workshops (Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, and Uttar Pradesh)
were conducted for analysing the collated case evidences of 30 serious Dalit women related atrocity
cased for legal intervention and victim experiences in accessing justice. 86 Activists participated on the
workshops. The collected evidence that demonstrates the systematic nature of violence against Dalit
women and the structural, institutional and criminal justice system failings of State responses to cases of
violence against Dalit women and girls were recorded for national and international advocacy.
Violence against Dalit women:Increasing violence with aggravated forms of sexual assault on Dalit
women led NDMJ to exert impetus on differentiated, focussed and concentrated intervention for
protection of Dalit women against violence. In this year NDMJ conducted systematic fact findings and
legal intervention in nearly 51 cases of violence against Dalit women. These cases were effectively
followed up by the trained Dalit women activists and lawyers to support the victims at each stage of the
case proceedings towards accessing justice.
Violence against children: As part of the ‘Zero Discrimination Campaign’the CSOs associated with the
campaign are monitoring schools, conducted 45 fact finding on the select discrimination and violence
cases of children and organized local advocacy with the police for invoking proper sections of POCSO
and SCs and STs (PoA) Act. NDMJ have also been engaging with National Commission for Scheduled
Castes,NCPCR and Social Welfare department for submitting the representations on the discrimination
and violence cases for their intervention for speedy justice and to make inclusive policies for schools
Atrocity Tracking Monitoring System
The web based ATM system proved to be an effective tool during atrocity case interventions. Around
150 DHRDs and CSOs were capacitated through regional and national level trainings for developing the
technical skill for uploading and tracking atrocity cases through Atrocity Tracking Monitoring system
and building legal knowledge SCs and STs (PoA) Amendment Act 2015 and laws related to women and
children.405 cases reported across the country are uploaded in the ATM and has secured Rs.1, 27,
11,250/-compensation in these cases.
This year ATM tool generated 1697 email alerts and 2702 SMS notifications were sent to concerned
authorities for proper and timely legal interventions. In many cases, the notification generated through
ATM compelled enforcement agencies for prompt actions such as registration of FIR, conduct spot
inspection, arrest of the accused, timely submission of Charge sheet and it helped in making statutory
bodies recognizing ATM as authentic and reliable tool for atrocity tracking and monitoring.
Right to Information Applications
RTI Application were filed at district level u/s 4(4),4(21)17(3) and at state level under rule (8)(1),7(3),9,
16(2) to monitor the status of implementation of SC’s and ST’s PoA Act . A total of 172 applications were
filed and 989 responses from the concerned govt. departments were received .Based on the RTIs
responses fact sheets actsheets of Bihar, Haryana ,Himachal Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Punjab
Rajasthan, and Uttar Pradesh were prepared and printed. NDMJ team at state have been engaging with
the state authorities and are using the Factsheets as an advocacy tool demanding better
implementation of the SCs and STs PoA Amended Act and Rules in cases of atrocities in respective states.
Capacity Building for Dalit Women Human Rights Defenders
NDMJ was successful in building a pool of more than 500 trained women Dalit Human Rights defenders
at field level through a series of capacity building workshops on case monitoring, legislations and
Advocacy for intervening in women violence cases. This training helped the Dalit women leaders to
legally intervene in the cases relating to women violence, discrimination and untouchability. The 500
trained women DHRDs in turn are disseminating the gained knowledge to other women activists and
community leaders creating an environment of resistance against violence.
Capacity Building of Defenders and its Protection
The defenders face numerous forms of threats and intimidation while supporting the victims/survivors
for accessing Justice. These defenders especially women are always at risk of rape, physical injury and
murder. NDMJ conducted 1 national level Trainers of Trainers programmes and 8 state level training in
collaboration with State partners for building the capacities of 3748 Dalit Human Rights Defenders
including Dalit women human rights defenders to use the protective legislations for the victims affected
by violence and atrocities and to monitor the implementation of SCs and STs (PoA) Amendment Act
2015.Trainings were conducted to build capacities of defenders on ‘The SCs and STs (PoA) Amendment
Act 2015’, POCSO Act and other constitutional rights. NDMJ is part of the of the advocacy group
demanding for the ratification of UN Declaration on human rights defenders
Capacity Building on Child Rights and Legal Framework
NDMJ organized one national level capacity building trainings to build perspectives of the CSOs
on Child Rights and Legal Framework with an objective to capacitate the Dalits and Adivasis
defenders on the international, national laws and legislation, and constitutional provisions governing
the rights of children. Through the training the Child rights perspectives were mainstreamed among the
Dalit Human Rights defenders and now they are now more observant in identification of child
discrimination and violence cases in schools. 41 participants from across different states
participated in the training.
Capacity Building of Advocates groups
Advocates groups have been strengthened to support Dalits and Adivasis accused of crime in the
state of Tamil Nadu and Rajasthan and were capacitated with knowledge of constitutional
provisions and legal rights of Dalit’s and Adivasis. In Rajasthan 30 advocates and Tamil Nadu 39
Advocates participated in the organized trainings.The objective of the trainings was to build the
perspective of the Advocates on the problems and issues faced by the Dalit’s and Adivasis by police, illegal arrest, detention, torture and false prosecution against Dalit’s and Adivasis by the State and related constitutional and legislative safeguards. A total of
87 Dalits defendants were bailed out with the effort of the advocates.
Zero Discrimination Campaign
NDMJ initiated a campaign on Zero discrimination in school education to visibilize
the discrimination and torture children are subjected to, due to their identity vis-à-vis
caste, ethnicity and religious minority. More than 100 CSOs/CLSs have joined the
campaign.The action to address “Zero discrimination in schools” focused on a
multiple levels of interventions
1) awareness building, networking and consultations
with various stakeholders
2) monitoring of public and private aided schools to
document the forms of discrimination faced by
3) evidence based advocacy with Government
authorities to influence the policy and guidelines.
Engagements with National Human Rights Institutions
The 11 victims of police atrocities in Tamil Nadu were facilitated to submit their petitions to the National
Commission of Schedule Caste – Chennai and file a follow-up complaint in person regarding the illegal
arrest. The partner critically followed and monitored all the concerned officials, commissions and the media,
submitted representations to CM, Chairperson SC Welfare Committee Assembly, National Human Rights
Commissions, National Commission for Scheduled Caste, CSC, State Human Rights Commission, HRC,
Chief Secretary, DGP, ADGP (Civil Rights) SCSC, SP and Collectors in all of the Fact Finding Cases .
National Advocacy on National Coalition for Strenghning SCs and STs (PoA) Act
NDMJ has strengthened the coalition of more than 500 CSOs and activists for rigorous campaign for
passing of ‘The Scheduled Caste and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocity) ( SCs and STs (PoA))
AmendmentAct 2015. In this year, NDMJ rigorously worked for generating awareness on the provisions
of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989 and its amendments as
well as building a local level movement to promote and protect human rights for Dalit and Adivasis
The National Coalition for Strengthening SCs and STs (PoA) Act (NCSPA) meeting was organized this
year in New Delhi, approximately, one hundred fifty activists participated in the coalition. This meeting
was conducted with the objective of taking stock of the present status of implementation of SCs and STs
(PoA) Amendment Act 2015 at field level and build strategies to improve the implementation of the Act.
National Advocacy on Violence against Dalit women
The women defenders are meeting with police, District authorities and forcing them to ensure
implementation of the Dalits and Adivasis women protection laws. They are playing key role to
strengthen the protection and promotion mechanisms and are enabling the survivors to hold the
government accountable and advocate for better implementation of the existing norms and policies.
NDMJ engagement in the area of violence against Dalit women is also creating awareness to the
challenges and systematic institutional prejudice faced by Dalit women in accessing justice through its
reports and media.
NDMJ has been organizing sustained advocacy with international human rights institutions such as
United Nations and European Union to increase visibility and enhance the ability of Dalit activists to
pressure and influence Indian government to implement their national and international human rights
obligations for protection and promotion of Dalit rights.
Universal Periodic Review: NDMJ attended the 3rd Universal Periodic Review of India at the Office of the
United Nations, and discussion events were organized by CSOs. Prior to the 3rd UPR Cycle on behalf of
National Coalition for Strengthening PoA Act 1989 (NCSPA), NDMJ submitted Stakeholder’s Report on
Caste Based Discrimination in India to OHCHR for UPR III .Working Group on Human Rights (WGHR) and
National Dalit Movement for Justice organized live screening of India’s Adoption of Universal Periodic
Review III (27th session)at UNHuman Rights Council in more than 20 cities across India on 4th May 2017.
Sustainable Development Goals: NDMJ participated in the preparation of Dalit- Adivasi Shadow
Report on India’s progress on SDGs (2017) organised by Asia Dalit Rights Forum, while, India went
through Voluntary National Review (VNR) on the national progress of the Sustainable Development
Goals (SDG) implementation.
NDMJ Participated in Regional consultation for Asia Pacific on the elaboration of draft guidelines on the
effective implementation of the right to participate in public affairs.
NDMJ Participated in the Treaty Bodies Regional Consultation -New Delhi, October 2017 and was
panellist in the session Treaty Bodies and Human Rights and shared the experience of NCDHR and
related groups with the CERD Committee.
NDMJ presented a paper on the Rights of Dalits in accessing Water and Sanitation to The UN Special
Rapporteur on Human Rights to Water and Sanitation during consultation being organized by Water
Aid with the SR, on issues of discrimination with regard to water and sanitation at Delhi