Both law enforcement, changed mindsets must to curb attacks on NE people: SC

New Delhi, Dec 14 (IANS) The Supreme Court on Monday said that the law enforcement machinery has to be coupled with change in “mindset” to curb attacks on the people from North-Eastern States as it noted the Union government’s proposal to amend the Indian Penal Code to deal with offences involving racial attacks.

“However, the involvement of the law enforcement machinery is alone not sufficient to resolve the problem. Mindsets have to be changed including in the … educational institutions, places of work and in society. Sensitivity and inclusion have to be fostered,” said the bench of Chief Justice T.S. Thakur, Justice D.Y. Chandrachud and Justice L. Nageswara Rao in their judgment.

Referring to the government’s statement of “Zero tolerance” policy towards discrimination against citizens hailing from the northeast, Justice Chandrachud said: “The court as a protector of human rights is within jurisdiction in ensuring that this assurance translates into reality.”

Directing the setting up of a three member committee headed by the Joint Secretary (Northeast) in the Home Ministry to monitor and redress the probe being faced by the people from Northeast, the court said: “We are of the view that in order to enhance a sense of security and inclusion, the Union … should take proactive steps to monitor the redressal of issues pertaining to racial discrimination” faced by people from the northeast.

The court issued five directions on which the three member committee will work and monitor activities as it disposed off a PIL by Karma Dorjee and others.

On the proposed amendment to the Indian Penal Code, the court said: “Whether the law should be amended is for the Union government to decide in its considered assessment of the situation, the nature of the problem and the efficacy of existing provisions. A mandamus to legislate cannot be issued.”

The government is examining to include in the Indian Penal Code two new provisions – Section 153C and Section 509A to curb racial attacks.

Referring to the problems being faced by the people from northeast, the court said: “The Governments, both at the centre and the states have a non-negotiable obligation to take positive steps to give effect to India’s commitment to racial equality. This commitment is embodied in constitutional rights, fundamental duties, statutory provisions and in the international obligations which have been assumed by India.”