:- By Aniket Gupta
Hello everyone. My new blog is about Prevention of Atrocities Act 1989, history of this act, Atrocity act misuse, Recent changes made By Supreme Court in this act and the Impact of the changes made. Everyone must be hearing of this act and the Dalits and SC/ST groups protest against this act these days. Changes have been made in this act many times but this one change needs to get reviewed because it has evoked an agitation in the whole nation. If you don’t know much about this act just scroll down to know more about this act.
What the Prevention of Atrocities Act 1989 is all about?
This act enforces the rights of Dalits group to a greater extent. This act applies for non-Dalit and non SC/ST group. According to it if one commits some crime against Dalit group then one would be punished under IPC and under the Prevention of Atrocities Act 1989 too. Also the victim will get monetary help from the Government ranging from 75,000 to 8,50,000 rupees. Special courts are made under this act to handle these kind of cases.
The kind of crimes which Prevention of Atrocities Act 1989 encompases are:-
- Exclusion of SC/ST group from the society
- Not permitting SC/ST to work under you or to do business with you due to his/her cast.
- Any kind of physical abuse to the SC/ST person or group.
- Disrespecting them or their family members
- Occupying their land illegally
- Restricting them to vote
- Avoiding them to go to any public place
If a case is filed against someone under the Prevention of Atrocities Act 1989 then police will immediately arrest him/her. He/she can only be bailed from the High Court and not from any lower court. The police also has to submit the charge sheet within 60 days to the court and after that the case is handled by the Special court.
History of Prevention of Atrocities Act 1989
In mid of 20th century the Supreme Court found that the Civil Rights Act 1955 and Indian Penal Codes (IPCs) were not strong enough to provide justice to the Dalits and SC/ST groups. Thus there was a need of a new law or act which could enforce those groups and could provide more justice to them. Hence it was proposed in the Parliament. Then the Prevention of Atrocities Act came in 1989 and by 30th January,1990 it got implemented in whole of the nation except Jammu and Kashmir. Later some changes were made in the year 2016 and the latest changes are made on 20th March, 2018.
Prevention of Atrocities Act 1989 Misuse
In 2016, according to a report by NCRB, was made in which it was found that 11060 cases were filed under this act but 935 cases i.e. about 10-15% cases were false. False cases were filled of being victimised in some cases. Some false allegations like the other person that he/she has insulted him/her or is torturing them or is not allowing them to work or is showing any kind of inequality towards them etc were made in few cases. Since immediate arrests were made after registration of reports. Thus under political pressure it led to the misuse of this act.
This misuse of Prevention of Atrocities Act 1989 also led to sowing the seeds of casteism among the people. As one person who has been arrested on false allegation would never ever believe a SC/ST person in future and would certainly develop a kind of reluctant behaviour towards the whole group.
That’s why the Supreme Court stated that working of SC/ST Act should not result in casteism which can have an adverse impact on the integration of society and constructional values.
Recent Changes made by Supreme Court
On 20th March, 2018 a bend of justices A K Goel and U U Lalit introduced the provision of anticipatory bail despite Section 18 of this act denying pre-arrest bail. The Supreme Court stated,” In view of the acknowledged abuse of law of arrest of a public servant can only be approved after approval of the appointing authority and of a non public servant after the approval by SSP which may be granted in appropriate cases if considered necessary for reasons recorded. Such reasons must be scrutinised by the magistrate for permitting further detention. To avoid false implication of an innocent, a preliminary inquiry may be conducted by the DSP concerned to find out whether the allegations make out a case under the act and that the allegations are not frivolous and motivated“.
According to the SC from now on if an allegation is made on a person then if he/she is a public servant then he/she can only be convicted after approval of the appointing authority and non public servant requires the approval by SSP. And from now on the inquiry will be done by DSP which was previously done by inspector. The DSP having higher rank, more knowledge and more experience than Inspector can investigate the case more thoroughly and more correctly.
Impact of the changes made
According to report given by NCRB in 2016 national rate of conviction for cases filed under Prevention of Atrocities Act 1989 stood at 15.4 %. According to them the Prevention of Atrocities Act 1989 is not as strongly implemented as it needed to be. As one can see in the survey that about 15% are convicted hence about 85% are bailed. And this is not necessary that one who bailed is innocent. Poor legal system, police intervention to settle the case or any sort of corruption can be the reason for their bail. The SC didn’t consider this part while making the changes and now Dalits are on streets protesting against SC/ST act .
Protesters are marching on roads across various parts of the country and are raising their voice against the changes made in the Prevention of Atrocities Act 1989. Protesters caused traffic jams destroyed public property in various parts like Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Punjab, Haryana, Bihar, Rajasthan, Gujarat, Odisha, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh etc. They are triggered by the change of Prevention of Atrocities Act 1989 misuse. The opposition party is also asking the government to ask the Supreme Court to review its decision. We hope that the Modi Government may respond soon.
So this was all about Prevention of Atrocities Act 1989.
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