In-depth Current Affairs Government to bring amendments into atrocities Act

Government to bring amendments into atrocities Act

The Union Government will bring in amendments to the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, during the Budget session of Parliament in 2013. The draft of the amendment is in its last stage of consultation.

The Government is of the opinion that the Act needs urgent amendments in order to plug loopholes in its implementation.

The present problems with the Act include the following.

  1. Implementation of the Act has been impeded by social prejudices of government servants, including the police, making it convenient for violators to escape the arm of law. Evidence clearly reveals the brazen extent of injustice meted out to the Dalits and Adivasis, and the impunity enjoyed by the violators at the hands of enforcement machineries.
  2. Dalit victims find it very difficult to get cases registered. The crucial gaps in the scope of the Act and its enforceability by law and order agencies is highlighted by the fact that every 15 minute four Dalits and adivasis are subjected to atrocities. Three Dalit women are raped, two murdered and 11 beaten up every day. Five Dalit houses are set on fire and six Dalits kidnapped every week. Going only by the cases registered, a total of 558,103 cases of atrocities have been filed in the last 15 years.
  3. Even if the victims somehow manage to register their cases, they do not get justice in the end. Overall, the conviction rate in these cases is very low.
  4. There are some faulty provisions in the Act which state that crimes against Dalits will be registered under the present law only when they have been committed in public view with intention.
About the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989

The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 is an Act to prevent the commission of offences of atrocities against the members of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, to provide for Special Courts for the trial of such offences and for the relief and rehabilitation of the victims of such offences and for matters connected therewith.

Offences of atrocities

1. Whoever, not being a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe -

  • forces a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe to drink or eat any inedible or obnoxious substance
  • acts with intent to cause injury, insult or annoyance to any member of a Scheduled Caste, or a Scheduled Tribe by dumping excreta, waste matter, carcasses or any other obnoxious substance in his premises or neighbourhood;
  • forcibly removes clothes from the person of a member of a Schedul-ed Caste or a Scheduled Tribe or parades him naked or with painted face or body or commits any similar act which is derogatory to human dignity
  • wrongfully occupies or cultivates any land owned by, or allotted to, or notified by any competent authority to be allotted to, a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe or gets the land allotted to him transferred;
  • wrongfully dispossesses a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe from his land or premises or interferes with the enjoyment of his rights over any land, premises or water
  • compels or entices a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe to do ‘begar’ or other similar forms of forced or bonded labour other than any compulsory service for public purposes imposed by Government
  • forces or intimidates a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe not to vote or to vote to a particular candidate or to vote in a manner other than that provided by law
  • institutes false, malicious or vexatious suit or criminal or other legal proceedings against a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe
  • gives any false or frivolous information to any public servant and thereby causes such public servant to use his lawful power to the injury or annoyance of a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe
  • intentionally insults or intimidates with intent to humiliate a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe in any place within public view
  • assaults or uses force to any woman belonging to a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe with intent to dishonour or outrage her modesty
  • being in a position to dominate the will of a woman belonging to a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe and uses that position to exploit her sexually to which she would not have otherwise agreed
  • corrupts or fouls the water of any spring, reservoir or any other source ordinarily used by members of the Scheduled Castes or a Scheduled Tribes so as to render it less fit for the purpose for which it is ordinarily used
  • denies a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe any customary right of passage to a place of public resort or obstructs such member so as to prevent him from using or having access to a place of public resort to which other members of public or any section thereof have a right to use or access to
  • forces or causes a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe to leave his house, village or other place of residence

shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months but which may extend to five years and with fine.

2. Whoever, not being a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe -

  • gives or fabricates false evidence intending thereby to cause, or knowing it to be likely that he will thereby cause, any member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe to be convicted of an offence which is capital by the law for the time being in force shall be punished with imprisonment for life and with fine; and if an innocent member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe be convicted and executed in consequence of such false or fabricated evidence, the person who gives or fabricates such false evidence, shall be punished with death
  • gives or fabricates false evidence intending thereby to cause, or knowing it to be likely that he will thereby cause, any member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe to be convicted of an offence which is not capital but punishable with imprisonment for a term of seven years or upwards, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months but which may extend to seven years or upwards and with fine
  • commits mischief by fire or any explosive substance intending to cause or knowing it to be likely that he will thereby cause damage to any property belonging to a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe, shall be punishable with imprisonment for a term which shall not be less than six months but which may extend to seven years and with fine
  • commits mischief by fire or any explosive substance intending to cause or knowing it to be likely that he will thereby cause destruction of any building which is ordinarily used as a place of worship or as a place for human dwelling or as a place for custody of the property by a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe, shall be punishable with imprisonment for life and with fine
  • commits any offence under the Indian Penal Code (45 of 1860) punishable with imprisonment for a term of ten years or more against a person or property on the ground that such person is a member of a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe or such property belongs to such member,

shall be punishable with imprisonment for life and with fine.

How well did you understand the issue? Assess yourself.

Question 1 | (250 Words): What are the main provisions of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989? Why has there been a demand to amend the Act?

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