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THE SC/ST (PREVENTION OF ATROCITIES) ACT,1989



INTRODUCTION

The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes as per the modern literature are known as ‘Dalits’. Since 1891, this term has been popularized because of Honorable Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar as he was the leader or the man who stood for them. Later on, the term Dalit termed “Harijans” which means ‘person of God’ by Gandhi Ji.

Dr. Bhimrao Ramji Ambedkar, the Chairman of Drafting Committee of the Indian Constituent Assembly and the Voice of Backward classes were himself belongs to Dalit Family. He had worked over “untouchability”, which is “slavery for the whole Indian System. Without removing this evil notion the growth and progress of the nation was not possible” Dr. B. R Ambedkar said.

By looking at the condition of how these castes were treated by other mainstreams in India, for controlling those illegalities, laws were enacted such as
1. Untouchability Practices Act, 1955
2. The Employment of Manual Scavengers and Construction of Dry Latrines ( Prohibition) Act, 1953,
3. The SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.

Here, we are going to discuss The SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act,1989 in upcoming paragraphs.

PURPOSE OF THE SC/ST (PREVENTION OF ATROCITIES) ACT,1989

The question arises what is the purpose behind enacting this act, or why this Act has been enacted? The answer is to prevent atrocities against Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes[1].

The term ‘Atrocities’ means “an extremely cruel act” around which this enactment is moving around.[2] As per law, it is a commonly used expression that refers to crime or violence against SC/STs. The shocking, inhumane behavior towards Scheduled castes and Scheduled tribes, which is now punishable under law.

The definition of Atrocity is provided under Section 2 of the SC/ST ( prevention of atrocities) act, 1989. And all the atrocities are provided under section 3 of the said act. The list of offenses is given in u/sec 3[3]. For preventing SC/STs from the hate crimes or atrocities this Act had been enacted. So, the purpose behind this enactment is to prevent the social exclusion of Dalits. This act also consists of punishments for these offenses, committed against ST/SC[4].

FEATURES

  1. Offenses:- Under section 3 of The Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities)Act, 1989 all the offenses are mentioned. As per the Supreme Court of India, an offense under the SC/ST act does not stand merely because the Informant or accused belongs to Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe Community[5].
  2. Special courts:- It provides for hearing Or filing cases under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes act against those who are not from these Schedule communities. As per the Act the state government with the concurrence of the Chief Justice of High Court for the purpose of Speedy trial. The State Government by notifying in the official gazette will specify that for an appointment of an advocate or a public Prosecutor, have been in practice for at least 7 years. He shall be a special public prosecutor for the purpose of conducting cases related to the SC/ST act.[6] The act also specifies, if there are any districts that have no atrocities against these communities, then the government after taking concurrence of the National Commission of SC/ST, combines that district with nearby districts for establishing exclusive special Courts.
  3. Prohibition of Anticipatory Bail:- The provision of this Anticipatory Bail comes into the picture when a person realizes that he/she has a chance to get arrested then they have a right to move the session court or High Court for grant of bail after or before he/ she got arrested. This provision of anticipatory Bail is provided under Section 438 of the Criminal procedure code.

This is applicable to non-bailable offenses. People demand anticipatory bail in the following scenarios
1. On false charges
2. In enmity with someone
3. Fear of false cases is likely to build upon them.

The single bench of the Delhi High Court in a Judgement which comprises Justice A.J Bhambhani held that the application of granting anticipatory bail is only barred under Section 18 of the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes ( prevention of atrocity) Act, 1989.[7]

Minister Thaanwar Genhol while speaking to Economics Times had said that as per the 2018 amendment, it is clear that there is no provision for anticipatory bail.[8]

In a case, Dr. Subhash Kashinath Mahajan v. The State of Maharashtra AIR(2018) S.C, a bench of Justice Adarsh Goel and Justice UULalit had removed the restriction on granting anticipatory bail. By amending their own judgment, the parliament had introduced a new section 18A in the SC/ST Act which laid down that there was no requirement for a preliminary inquiry filing an FIR. And also said that the provision of section 438 of CRPC would not apply to those offenses committed as per The SC/ST act.[9]

  1. Compensation/punishment:- The atrocities under the Scheduled caste and scheduled tribes act were all Cognizable in nature. In the act, all the minimum and maximum punishment were given. As per the act, the minimum punishment in most cases is 6 months, and the maximum is 5 years. This 5 years is extendable, up to life imprisonment, or can be Death imprisonment.

According to Section 4 of the act, any public Servant neglects his duties or ignores the atrocities complaints, he/she is liable for the punishment which is 6 months of imprisonment. Under section 5 of the same act, the punishment of subsequent conviction is provided which may be extended according to the given punishment in the act.[10]

The offender is liable for punishment if he/she forces any person of the SC/ST community
1. to drink or eat any obnoxious substances;
2. dump excreta or something obnoxious at the scheduled castes and scheduled tribes member’s premises;
3. Forcefully, remove clothes, mustaches or paint their face or body;
4. wrongfully occupy land or transfer such land or do similar acts under this act.[11]

PROBLEMS

  1. Weakness of victims:- the people who belong to Scheduled castes and scheduled tribes community, due to weak social or economic background faced caste-based discrimination in India. The victim who approaches the Indian justice system for justice, they have to face this caste-based discrimination from the very first stage of filing the F.I.R. Due to the fear, they do not register a complaint[12]. Even, in any case, they get filed their case, the victim and witnesses face open threat by perpetrators of that case.[13] Parliament has taken some rights by inserting section 15A in SC/ST ACT, 1989 in the year 2016 which has a provision, that the victims of the atrocity were treated with utmost fairness. As per the amendment act,2015 section 3 (1)p protects the victims from false cases and charges.
  2. Awareness:- As we all know that According to the constitution of India equality can be achieved if the scheduled caste and tribes’ rights are protected. The supreme court asked the National Legal Services Authority to formulate the scheme spreading awareness about the free legal aid for these communities under the act

The Supreme court in Subhash Kashinath Mahajan v State of Maharashtra.[14] The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 is being misused by a public servant or we can say police personnel for political and for their benefits as claimed by the report of ‘Parliamentary Standing Committee’.[15] After that the Amendment Act of 2018 by nullifying the court’s judgment of March 20, 2018, had diluted the original provisions of the SCs/STs Act to prevent them from Atrocities;
1. restoring the investigating officer’s power to arrest those who were supposed to commit atrocities against the Scheduled Caste and the scheduled tribe community.
2. barred the provision of Anticipatory Bail and 3. They added section 18A to the original Act of Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe which states that the now for arresting accused as per this act no need for approval and no for registering a criminal case there will be no Preliminary inquiry.[16][17] For more clarity, look at this newspaper cutting[18].

[19]https://www.drishtiias,com/images/upholds/1581420950_image6,png

The controlling these atrocities and stopping discrimination against these communities we need to improve our justice system.

CONCLUSION

In this article, the author wants to demonstrate the problems faced by the Scheduled Caste, Scheduled Tribe Community before Independence. After reading and researching the SC/ST Act,1989 the author got to know that this discrimination, this community facing before, they are fighting in this century also. The addition of section 18A in the original act is somehow, is a good step towards this type of offense. Only those people who are living far from the rural areas or in metropolitan cities think this problem is in control but I want to open their eyes and show the real scenario. Not only general people, but the politicians are also using them for taking sympathy votes or sometimes they forced them to give votes to their party. These public protectors, our police system instead of showing humanity or helping them, are helping mainstreams.


REFERENCES

  1. India :Act.No.33 of 1989, scheduled caste and the scheduled Tribes (prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, https://www.refworld.org.

  2. Atrocity, Oxford Lexico.https://www.lexico.com/definition/atrocity.
  3. The Scheduled castes and the scheduled tribes (prevention of Atrocities)Act ,1989 , Act no.33of 1989.
  4. SC ST Act, legit quest, Apr 08,2021.https://www.legitquest.com/legal-guide/sc-st-act.
  5. Legal Correspondent, Insults not offences under SC/ST:Supreme Court, The Hindu, (November 5,2020,00:19 IST) http:s//www.google.com/amp/s/amp/s/www.thehindu.com/news/national/offences-under-sc st-act-would-be-made-out-when-a-person-is-abused-in-public-view-supreme-court/article 33032722.ece.
  6. Dhruvan Gautham Kocherii, Mohan Roy Mathews & shiv Shankar, Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes(Prevention of Atrocities)Act, Legal Service.India.com .https://www.legalserviceindia.com/article/1440-Scheduled-Castes-and-Scheduled-Tribes-Act-.html.
  7. Nishant Sirohi ,Supreme court upholds the constitutional validity of Section 18A of the amended SC/STAct,The Leaflet,(feb10,2020). https://www.theleaflet.in/supreme-court-upholds-the-constitutional-validity-of-section-18-a-of-the-amended-sc-st-act/
  8. Amit Anand Choudhary,SC favours anticipatory bail provision in SC/ST Act to protect innocents , TOI,oct 4, 2019, 02:57 IST.https://m.timesofindia.com/india/sc-favours-anticipatory-bail-provision-in-sc-st-to-protect-innocents/amp_articlehow/71432100.cms
  9. Murali Krishnan, Supreme court upholds SC/ST Act amendment that bans pre-arrest bail , Hindustan Times, (Feb 10,2020) https://www-hindustantimes-com.cdn.ampproject.org/v/s/www.hindustantimes.com/india-news-/supreme-court-upholds-amendment-to-2018-sc-st-act-that-reversed-verdict-that-banned-arrests-without-inquiry/story.
  10. Supra note 6 ,at 5
  11. PTI, Stringent punishment for atrocities on SC,STunder new Act, The Economics Times, ( Jan 25 ,2016), 03:32PM. IST. https://wwweconomictimes.com/news/politics-and-nation/stringent-punishment-for-atrocities-on-sc-st-under-new-act/articleshow/50717243.cms.
  12. Supra note 6, at 5.
  13. India.com News Desk, Insult to SC/STs Within 4 Walls with no witness not offence,says Supreme Court, India.com, Nov 06, 2020 12:59pm. https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.india.com/news/india/insult-to-sc-sts-within-4-walls-with-no-witness-not-offence-under-act-says-supreme-court-4199763/amp/.
  14. Dr.Subhash kashinath mahajan v. the state of maharashtra AIR 2018,S.C 2018, legitquest. https://www.legitquest.com/case/dr-subhash-kashinath-mahajan-v-state-of-maharashtra/B188D.
  15. Richa Taneja, what is SC/ST Act? All you Need to knowAbout This, NDTV , (Apr 03 ,2018) 8:59 pm IST.https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.ndtv.com/india-news-what-is-sc-st-act-all-you-need-to-know-about-this-183430%.
  16. Sc upholds changes to SC/ST Atrocities Law, drishti, Feb 11 (2020).https://www.drishtiias.com/daily-updates/daily-news-analysis/sc-upholds-changes-to-sc-st-atrocities-law.
  17. Krishanadas Ragopal, Supreme Court upholds amendments made to nullify own judgement diluting provisions of sc/st Act, The Hindu, (Feb 10,2020) 11:38 IST.https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/supreme-court-upholds-constitutionsal-validity-of-scst-amendment-act-2018/article30780857.ece.
  18. Supra note 15, at 7.
  19. https://www.drishtiias,com/images/upholds/1581420950_image6,png

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