New Delhi: Irked by Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s assurance that amended SC/ST Atrocities Act will not be ‘misused’, social justice expert PS Krishnan has written to the Madhya Pradesh CM, stating that the problem lies with the implementation and inadequate use of the law, and not due to alleged abuse of it.
Supporting his stand with the data on arrests and complaints filed under the Act, Krishnan said that unnecessary fear is being created around the alleged misuse of the Dalit law and it is not ‘warranted by facts’.
“Your reported statement to media-persons that only after thorough probe, a case will be registered under the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act [POA Act] seems to be knee-jerk reaction to the agitation of some ‘upper’ caste groups against the POA Amendment Act 2018,” he said, adding that the National Crimes Records Bureau (NCRB) data shows that the claim is not backed by facts.
The National Crimes Records Bureau (NCRB) data for 2016:
The number of complaints of Atrocities against SCs:
- The number of complaints of atrocities which were closed by the police as “false” was a mere 18.
- The total number of cases of Atrocities against SCs which were before the police for investigation was as high as 5166.
- Only 4611 were sent by the police for trial in courts, leaving behind arrears of more than 500 cases.
- Cases pending trial at the end of the year was as high as 82.5%.
- Out of the 2842 cases in which trial was completed, there was conviction only in 886 or only 31.2% of the cases.
- Acquittals took place in more than 2/3rd or 68.8% of the trial-completed cases.
- The proportion of cases closed by the police as “false” is a mere 0.35% of the total, virtually Nil.
Story with Atrocities against STs:
- A mere 8 cases or 0.41% of the total of 1940 cases of Atrocities against STs were closed as “false” by the police.
The police sent 1,795 cases to the courts for trial.
- Out of the 5,844 total cases for trial in the courts, including 4049 cases which were carried over from previous years, trials were completed only in 944 cases or 16.15% of the cases.
- Out of these 944 trial-completed cases, conviction took place only in 273 cases or 28.9% of the cases. 671 cases or 71.08 % of the cases ended in acquittals.
- Krishnan mentioned in the letter, “Acquittals took place in more than 2/3rd or 68.8% of the trial-completed cases. Such large-scale acquittals are on account of poor investigation, indifferent prosecution and long delays at the investigation stage and trial stage.”
- Elaborating on this, he writes, “Such delays increase the scope for persons of powerful dominant castes who commit Atrocities to exert pressure on the SC victims, who are the most vulnerable class in every village, in every State of the country including Madhya Pradesh, through threats, coercion, social boycott, economic boycott, reprisal Atrocities including mass arson, false counter-cases etc. not only against the victims but also against other people of the caste of the victims, and thereby damage investigation and tamper with evidence.”
- Krishnan said that such powerful persons in a number of cases are also able to influence some persons in the police set-up not to do their Constitutional, legal and professional duty, strictly, impartially and efficiently. The extremely poor record of investigation and prosecution is because the provisions of the Act, including regular CM-level supervision and monitoring have never been implemented properly.
- He has suggested at steps immediately to ensure proper implementation of the Act and so that the national intent expressed through parliamentary legislation to protect the SCs and STs, the two most vulnerable social classes of India of our country, including Madhya Pradesh, is not allowed to be subverted in practice.
- For ensuring proper implementation of the Act to protect SCs/STs, he suggested setting up of an ‘Exclusive Special Sessions Court’ in every district of the State for quick trial within two months, as prescribed by the POA Act; appointment of an Exclusive Special Prosecutor for each of the Exclusive Special Courts.
- Krishnan advised that the Exclusive Special Prosecutors be instructed to strongly oppose bail in cases under the Act as the powerful accused, if let loose on bail, will use their influence to tamper with evidence by using threats, coercion, allurements etc.
- He also recommended setting up of State Vigilance and Monitoring Committee (SVMC) under Chief Minister’s Chairmanship, and the District Vigilance and Monitoring Committees in every district.