Saturday, May 19, 2012

Report on Status of Implementation of SCs & STs [Prevention of Atrocities] Act 1989 released

The report on the Status of Implementation of SCs and STs [Prevention of Atrocities] Act 1989 and Rules 1995 was released by the first Dalit Chief Justice of India, Justice K.G. Balakrishnan on 18 May 2012. The report was prepared The report was prepared by the National Coalition after collecting evidences by visiting the places of incidents and talking to victims across India for Strengthening SCs & STs (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

The report revealed substantial increase in cases of violence against SCs and STs. The report also highlighted loopholes in the implementation of the SCs and STs [Prevention of Atrocities] Act and argued that it has not been able to check atrocities against Dalits and Adivasis in an effective manner. The report explained in details the trends and nature of discrimination and atrocities against SCs/STs over the years.

According to the study, the cases of violence against SCs/STs are not registered and even if they are registered the conviction rate is found to be quite low. At least one-fourth of the cases were observed to have been disposed of at the investigation stage itself by the police and such complaints were referred to as mistake of fact.

crime rate against SCs increased from 2.6 per cent in 2007 to 2.8 per cent in 2010. In 2010, Uttar Pradesh accounted for 19.2 per cent of the total crimes against SCs (6,272 out of 32,712) in the country. Rajasthan in the same yearreported the highest rate of crimes (7.4 per cent) against SCs compared to the national average of 2.9 per cent. According to the report, the number of crimes against STs drastically increased in 2010 to 5,885 cases and murder cases of STs alone totalled 142.

As per the report, police resort to various machinations to discourage SCs/STs from registering cases, to dilute the seriousness of the violence, and to shield the accused persons from arrest and prosecution. FIRs are often registered under the PCR Act and IPC provisions, which attract lesser punishment than PoA Act provisions for the same offence. Only 11,682 (34.2 per cent) out of 34,127 atrocity cases were registered under PoA Act in 2010 at the national level.

In 2010 investigation was completed only for 37,558 cases of the total of 51,782 cases registered. Charge sheets were submitted only for 26480 cases (51 per cent) because of which even by the year end, around 14,092 cases remained pending for investigation. Of the 16,601 cases registered in 2010 across the country under PoA Act for atrocities against SCs, the police closed almost 2150 cases (13 per cent) in 2010. Meanwhile, of the 1,714 registered cases of atrocities against STs, 223 (13 per cent) were closed.

The report recommended appointment of high-level committee to be appointed to review implementation of the Act and the Rules in all the States. It also recommended exclusive special courts with powers to take cognizance of the offences under the Act should be set up and special public prosecutors for speedy trials of cases registered under the Act should be appointed.