According to data released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) last year, the crime against SCs and STs saw an increase of 9.4 per cent and 9.3 per cent respectively in 2020 compared to 2019.
THE Union Government has expressed concerns about the crimes against the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and sent a missive to all the state governments and Union Territories[UTs] to take all urgent steps to prevent and control the crime against SCs and STs. It has asked the state governments and the UTs to ensure vigorous and conscientious enforcement of the statutory provisions and existing legislations relating to crimes against SCs and STs including the Protection of Civil Rights (PCR) Act, 1955 and Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 and amendments made thereunder from time to time.
In a letter sent by the Ministry of Home Affairs[MHA] to all the states, it is emphasized that the governments must ensure proper enforcement of law and convictions in crimes committed against SCs/STs. The advisory has added that enforcement agencies should be instructed in unambiguous terms that the rights of the weaker and vulnerable sections should not be downplayed.
“Sensitizing the law enforcement machinery towards crimes against SCs/STs by way of well-structured training programmes, meetings, conferences, workshops, seminars etc. for police personnel and other law enforcement agencies at all levels as well as the other functionaries of the criminal justice system. Such programmes should be incorporated in the syllabi of various Police Training Centres/ Academies at all levels. Special training to police personnel in effective implementation of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (POA) Act, 1989”, the letter reads.
The letter goes on to highlight that the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 (POA Act) was amended in 2015 to make it more effective. New offences such as tonsuring of head, moustache, or similar acts, which are derogatory to the dignity of members of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, had been added.
“The punishments have also been enhanced. Provisions of Special Courts and speedy trial have been added. The Act was further amended in 2018. Section 18A has been inserted whereby conduct of preliminary enquiry before registration of FIR, or to seek approval of any authority to arrest of an accused is no longer required. The provision of the PoA Act may be implemented in letter and spirit”, MHA has asked the states.
It added that there should be no delay in the registration of FIR in cases of crimes against SCs/STs. Besides, it asks states to ensure proper supervision at the appropriate level of cases of crimes against SCs/STs, from the recording of FIR to the disposal of the case by the competent court.
It says that the delays in investigation (beyond 60 days from the filing date of FIR) should be monitored at the district and State level once a quarter, and wherever required, special Deputy Superintendents of Police[DSPs] should be appointed to expedite the process of investigation.
In addition, the MHA has asked states and UTs to ensure that atrocity-prone areas are identified for taking preventive measures to save life and property of the members of the SC/ST communities; adequate number of police personnel, fully equipped with policing infrastructure, is posted in the Police Stations in such vulnerable areas; delay in trial of cases of crimes against SCs/STs is reviewed on a regular basis by District and Sessions Judges in meetings attended by District Magistrates, Superintendents of Police and Public Prosecutors of the district; and the District Superintendents of Police are responsible for timely attendance and protection of all prosecution witnesses including Police Officers and official witnesses for speedy trial of such cases in the trial courts.
According to data released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) last year, the crime against SCs and STs saw an increase of 9.4 per cent and 9.3 per cent respectively in 2020 compared to 2019. Of the 28 states and nine UTs, 17 registered an increase in cases of atrocities against SCs. Uttar Pradesh reported highest number of atrocities (12,714) against SCs and Madhya Pradesh reported the most number of crimes (2,401) against STs.