• BJP-ruled Rajasthan tops in Atrocities against SC, ST

    December 28, 2016

    Image courtesy Satwik Gade / via The Hindu

    According to a new government report, BJP-ruled Rajasthan has reported the highest number of cases of atrocities against SCs and STs during 2013-15, followed by poll-bound Uttar Pradesh, and Bihar. The Centre has also flagged the issue of poor conviction rates in such cases.

    Rajasthan has registered 23,861 cases under the amended Prevention of Atrocities (PoA) Act, while UP and Bihar registered 23,556 and 21,061 cases respectively, as per the agenda papers for a meeting of a review committee on the implementation of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989. Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil and Gujarat reported 14,016, 9,054, 8,084, 7,565, 6,546, 5,131 and 3,969 such crimes respectively during the years.

    The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment observed that during 2013-15, only 43.3 per cent of the total cases registered (1,38,077) were disposed of by courts, and only 25.7 per cent of those disposed of by the courts (59,779) ended in conviction.“In certain states, i.e., Andhra Pradesh (6.3%), Gujarat (3.1%), Karnataka (3.5%), Maharashtra (7.6%), Odisha (4.3%), Tamil Nadu (7.5%), Telangana (7.5%) and West Bengal (3%), the conviction rate was in single digit,” the agenda note read.

    The committee headed by Union Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thaawarchand Gehlot sought an action-taken report from state governments to improve the disposal and conviction rates in such cases.

    During the meeting, Gehlot pointed out that only 14 states have set up exclusive special courts for speedy trial of cases registered under the PoA Act. However, he rued there was no information about the formation of such courts by 22 states and Union Territories including Delhi, Jharkhand, Haryana, Goa, West Bengal, Arunachal Pradesh and Assam, and urged them to do the needful.

    Section 14 of the amended PoA Act provides for the establishment of exclusive special courts for one or more districts, and where the number of cases under this Act is less, for the specification of the Court of Session as a Special Court, with powers to take direct cognisance of offences under the PoA Act.

    The Committee also wanted to know if the relief amount, that has been raised to a range of 85,000 – 8,25,000 depending upon the nature of offence, is being disbursed to the concerned persons within seven days, as specified in the PoA Rules amended on 14 April, 2016.

    First published in The Siasat Daily. Republished here with minor edits for clarity.

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