India is facing another protest regarding Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. The Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act is known as POA, SC/ST Act, the Prevention of Atrocities Act, or the Atrocities Act. It protects the marginalised communities against discrimination and atrocities.
The act can be summed up in a single provision of the law, section 3.1 (X), which says insult or humiliation of a SC/ST person in public view is punishable with jail between six months and five years.
The preamble of the Act also states that the Act is-
“To prevent the commission of offences of atrocities against the members of Scheduled Castes and 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 or incidental thereto.”
What does this law do?
- It punishes crimes against people belonging to Scheduled Castes and Tribes.
- This law gives special protections and rights to victims.
- It sets up courts for fast completion of cases.
Let us understand, what is this act about and why it has created such a huge controversy?
Here’s All You Need To Know About SC/ST Act:
1. The Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act is popularly known as POA, the SC/ST Act, the Prevention of Atrocities Act, or simply the Atrocities Act. The SC/ST Act was enacted on September 9, 1989. The rules for the Act were notified on March 31, 1995.
2. The SC/ST Act lists 22 offences relating to various patterns or behaviours inflicting criminal offences and breaking the self-respect and esteem of the scheduled castes and tribes community. This includes denial of economic, democratic and social rights, discrimination, exploitation and abuse of the legal process.
3. According to the SC/ST Act, the protection is provided from social disabilities such as denial of access to certain places and to use customary passage, personal atrocities like forceful drinking or eating of inedible food sexual exploitation, injury etc, atrocities affecting properties, malicious prosecution, political disabilities and economic exploitation.
4. For speedy trial, Section 14 of the SC/ST Act provides for a Court of Session to be a Special Court to try offences under this Act in each district.
5. The prime objective of the SC/ST Act is to deliver justice to marginalised through proactive efforts, giving them a life of dignity, self-esteem and a life without fear, violence or suppression from the dominant castes.
Why has it led to Bharat Bandh?
The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) recorded more than 5,000 “false cases” in 2016, a statistic the top court mentioned in March to conclude the law was being misused.
The Centre filed a review petition in the SC and on Wednesday(1 August 2018) approved a bill to be tabled in Parliament to effectively reverse the court’s judgment.
The Centre has decided to reverse a Supreme Court ruling through an amendment bill in Parliament. Within five months, the ruling is all set to be nullified as majority of political parties have been critical of what they called “dilution” of the SC/ST Act.
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