Less Justice, More Atrocity: Who’s responsible?


There are 171 special courts in the country for the hearing of cases of atrocities against SC/STs.But though 11% of Maharashtra’s population is Dalit, a special court for crimes against Dalits is yet to be set up in the state. On Thursday, a PIL seeking the implementation of the act came up for hearing in the Bombay high court (HC). Based on 43 cases of atrocities against Dalits in Maharashtra, the PIL pointed out gaps and negligence in the implementation of the act.

The PIL said that vigilance and monitoring committees set up under the act have not been properly constituted and are not functioning in the state. As per figures provided by the Centre, nine states in the country have set up special courts to try offences under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities; PoA) Act, 1989. The states are Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Chattisgarh, Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh. According to the national crime records bureau, an average of 35,500 cases of atrocity against Dalits were registered in the country annually from 2006 to 2008. In 2008, 30,913 cases were registered in the country, the highest number, 7,960, coming from UP. Maharashtra’s record was 1,172 cases. Cases in the last four years include the Khairlanji killings of 2006, the setting on fire of a prosperous Dalit in Hingloli in 2008, and the parading naked of a 22-year-old Dalit girl in Sewri on June 17 this year.

Counsel for the Centre Revati Dere informed the court about the steps the Union government had taken for the implementation of the PoA act. The affidavit, submitted by NC Das, deputy secretary, the Union ministry of tribal affairs, states that the committee to curb offences under the act — set up under the chairpersonship of the minister for social justice in March 2006 — has conducted 10 meetings with 25 states and four union territories. In an affidavit submitted on behalf of the state government, principal secretary Satish Gavai has stated that a high-power committee formed in 2006 has been sending annual reports to the Centre for compliance with the provisions of the PoA act, and that the new committee appointed in April this year is scheduled to meet on September 15. The counsel for the petitioners told the court that the committees not formed for 40 years have been formed in no time now. “That is democracy,” justice BH Marlapalle remarked.

Source: DNA

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