“NCSC” Launches Online Grievance Management Portal for Scheduled Castes
What is the News?
National Commission for Scheduled Castes(NCSC) launched an Online Grievance Management Portal for Scheduled Caste.
About Online Grievance Management Portal:
- The Online Grievance Management Portal will allow submission of complaints about atrocities against the Scheduled Castes. The portal also allows users to track the progress of their complaints.
- The portal was developed in collaboration with the Bhaskaracharya Institute for Space Applications and Geoinformatics(BISAG-N), a Centre of Excellence under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology(MeitY).
About the National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC).
- National Commission for Scheduled Castes(NCSC) is a constitutional body. It was set up under Article 338 to safeguard the interests of the scheduled castes(SC) in India.
Evolution of the NCSC:
- Originally, Article 338 of the Constitution provided for the appointment of a Special Officer for Scheduled Castes(SCs) and Scheduled Tribes(STs). The special officer designated as the Commissioner for Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
- In 1978, the Government(through a Resolution) set up a non-statutory multi-member Commission for SCs and STs. The Office of Commissioner for SCs and STs also continued to exist.
- In 1987, the Government (through another Resolution) modified the functions of the Commission and renamed it the National Commission for SCs and STs.
- Later, the 65th Constitutional Amendment Act provided for the establishment of a high-level multi-member National Commission for SCs and STs. It replaced the single Special Officer for SCs and STs.
- This constitutional body replaced the Commissioner for SCs and STs as well as the Commission set up under the Resolution of 1987.
- Again, the 89th Constitutional Amendment Act of 2003 bifurcated the combined National Commission for SCs and STs into two separate bodies namely:
- National Commission for Scheduled Castes (under Article 338) and
- National Commission for Scheduled Tribes (under Article 338-A).
- The National Commission for SCs consists of a chairperson, a vice-chairperson, and three other members.
- They are appointed by the President by warrant under his hand and seal. The President also determines their conditions of service and tenure of office.
Functions of NCSC:
- Firstly, to investigate and monitor all matters relating to the constitutional and other legal safeguards for the SCs and to evaluate their working;
- Secondly, to inquire into specific complaints with respect to the deprivation of rights and safeguards of the SCs;
- Thirdly, to participate and advise on the planning process of socio-economic development of the SCs and to evaluate the progress of their development under the Union or a state;
- Lastly, To present the report on working of those safeguards to the President, annually.
State of Human Rights in India -Explained, Pointwise
The US State Department released the “2020 Human Rights Report” or the “2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices”. It is a retrospective report that contains a country-wise discussion on the state of human rights. The 2020 Human Rights report severely criticised the state of Human Rights in India.
Similarly, the report also mentions several human rights issues in India. This includes issues such as harassment and detention of journalists, government request for user data from internet companies, etc. In this article, we will analyze the situation of Human Rights in India.
About the US “Human Rights Report 2020”
It is an annual report and the 2020 report is its 45th edition. Each year the US State Department submits the report to the US Congress. The report is based on the rights listed under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights(UDHR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights(ICCPR).
Key Findings of the report regarding India
The 2020 report mentioned some improvement in the situation of human rights in Jammu and Kashmir. At the same time, the report also mentioned more than a dozen significant issues regarding Human Rights in India. These are,
- Prevalent of Unlawful and arbitrary killings;
- Restrictions on freedom of expression and the press. It includes using violence, threats of violence, or unjustified arrests or prosecutions against journalists;
- Restrictions on political participation
- Widespread corruption at all levels in the government;
- Low tolerance of violations of religious freedom
- Crimes involving violence and discrimination targeting members of minority groups including women based on religious affiliation or social status.
- Requests for Data from Social Media Companies: The government’s requests for user data from Internet companies increased dramatically. In 2019, the Government made 49,382 user data requests from Facebook, a 32% increase from 2018. Over the same period, Google requests increased by 69% while Twitter requests saw a 68% increase.
What are Human Rights?
According to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights(OHCHR), these are the rights that exist to humans simply because we are human beings. Further, The OHCHR also mentions that Human Rights are not granted by any state. Instead, these are inherent to all of us, regardless of nationality, sex, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, language, or any other status.
Human Rights range from the most fundamental – the right to life – to rights that make life worth living. Such as the rights to food, education, work, health, and liberty, etc.
About International Human Rights Conventions and Bodies
There are many prominent Human Rights conventions and International bodies. Few significant of them are,
Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)
- This includes 30 civil and political rights and freedoms. These 30 rights cover a wide gamut of Human rights including the social, economic and cultural rights to the individual.
- India took active participation during the formation of UDHR.
- UDHR is not a treaty. So, there is no legal obligation for signatory countries to follow the provisions of UDHR.
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)
- The ICCPR is a key international human rights treaty. The ICCPR also covers a wide range of civil and political rights.
- The countries ratifying the ICCPR have to take the necessary steps to protect and preserve basic human rights.
- The UN Human Rights Committee is tasked with monitoring the implementation of ICCPR
- The Covenant was adopted by the UNGA in 1966. It came into force in 1976.
- 173 countries including India have ratified the ICCPR.
Other Convention on Human rights
- Apart from the above two, there are other few major Conventions. These include.
- The Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (1948)
- Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (1979)
- The Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989)
- Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006)
- India is a party to all the above-mentioned conventions.
- Apart from the above two, there are other few major Conventions. These include.
United Nation Human Rights Council(UNHRC)
- It is an inter-governmental body within the United Nations system. Further, It is made up of 47 United Nations Member States which are elected by the UN General Assembly.
- It conducts a Universal Periodic Review of all the UN members once in four years.
- The OHCHR is the secretariat of UNHRC.
NOTE: The ICCPR, UDHR, and the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights together considered as the International Bill of Human Rights.
About Human Rights in India
- Human Rights in the Constitution: India always respected Human Rights, this is reflected in the Constitution itself. The inclusion of Fundamental Rights and Directive Principles of State Policy are the enumeration of UDHR principles only.
- Protection of Human Rights Act 1993: This established the National Human Rights Commission in India. The commission is the watchdog of human rights in the country. It is an independent statutory body to look into the Human Rights issues and violation in India.
Status of Human Rights in India and its violation
The US Human Rights Report 2020 and the Freedom in the world report 2020 criticised Human Rights violation in India. But the credibility of these violations can be doubted. But India can observe the Human Rights violation internally from issues such as,
- Custodial Torture still exists in India. The recent Sathankulam case in Tamil Nadu is proof of custodial torture.
- Right to Work and Labour Rights are still not complete. The government is still taking measures to improve them. The recent labour codes are also a step in that direction only.
- Extrajudicial Killings like fake encounters, mob lynching, etc. have not stopped in India.
- Arbitrary Arrest and Detention are still common. Both the NHRC and SHRC both have failed to control them due to their lack of powers. This is seen as the criminalisation of government critics.
- Manual Scavenging is also prevalent in India. According to the 2011 Census, there are more than 26 Lakh insanitary latrines in the country. Even though the government enacted a law and NHRC given its recommendations, the practice still exists in India
- Violence and discrimination against Women, Children like rape, murder, sexual abuse are also prevalent in India.
Suggestions to improve Human Rights in India
- Proper enforcement of Law: The government has enacted numerous laws, rules, and regulations to protect Human rights in India. But, the misuse of laws by law enforcing agencies is the root cause of human rights violations.
So, the government has to change the provisions if they run contrary to human rights. The weakness of laws has to be tackled through either amendment or repeal if necessary.
- The government has to strengthen the NHRC and SHRC. The government has to make the decisions of NHRC enforceable. Further, the government has to review the Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Bill, 2019.
- Enacting a National Action Plan on Human Rights(NAPHR): The Universal Periodic review of UNHRC mandated the enactment of the National Plan. India has to fast pace the task force and also have to properly follow the action plan after enactment.
- Adopting the Parent-Child approach when the government faces criticisms. The Madras High court advocated this approach in May 2020.
Parent-Child approach: The state must act like it is the parent of all its citizens. Despite the insult (sedition or criminal defamation) by children (citizens), parents don’t discard their children quite easily. Like that State also accept the fact that public figures must face criticism.
John F Kennedy once said that “The rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened“. So the government has to understand that and ensure proper enforcement of Human Rights. After all, denying human rights is a challenge to humanity itself.
Data on participation of marginalised Communities in leading IITs
What is the News?
The Hindu Newspaper has published the data obtained through the RTI queries. Data provides info. on the representation of marginalized communities such as OBCs, SCs, and STs in the leading IITs of the country.
About the data:
- The RTI query data covers Ph.D. admissions made in the five-year period from 2015 to 2019. IITs covered are of Madras, Bombay, Delhi, Kanpur, and Kharagpur.
Key Findings of the data:
- Selection of SCs and STs in PHDs: Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe applicants are half as likely to get selected for a Ph.D. program at leading IITs in the country as aspirants from the General Category (GC) are.
- Acceptance Rate: The acceptance rate refers to the number of students selected for every 100 students who applied. The acceptance rate stood at 4% for students from General Category. It falls to 2.7% for OBC students and further down to just 2.16% for SCs and 2.2% for STs.
Data given by Government in Parliament:
According to the Ministry of Education’s data submitted to Parliament last year:
The following data is based on the total admissions made by all IITs from 2015 to 2019:
- Only 2.1% went to STs and 9.1% to SCs. The government’s reservation policy mandates the allocation of 7.5% seats for students from the STs and 15% from SCs.
- Similarly, 23.2% of seats went to applicants from the OBCs against the 27% mandated by reservation.
- The remaining 65.6% or roughly two-thirds of all the seats went to General Category(GC) applicants.
Source: The Hindu
Government initiatives for welfare of Scheduled Castes (SC)
Synopsis: Government has recently launched post-matric scholarship scheme for SCs, apart from many other steps taken for the welfare of Scheduled Castes (SC) in India.
Post-matric scholarship scheme
- Government has recently passed an outlay of Rs 59,000 crore for the post-matric scholarship scheme for students from Scheduled Caste groups.
- Almost 60 percent of the cost of scheme will be borne by Central government and rest by the states.
How this scheme promotes welfare of Scheduled Castes (SC)?
- More than four crore SC students would benefit from this allocation in the next five years.
- These students were facing challenges in pursuing higher education because of the financial constraints but this decision will provide them a sense of hope.
- The gross enrolment ratio of SC students in higher education will increase with the help of this scheme.
- Proper education will provide the next generation of Dalits paths for upward mobility, dignity and recognition in society.
Other Government initiatives for welfare of Scheduled Castes (SC)
Development of SC concentrated villages
- The Union government identified almost 27,000 such villages where a government programme will make sure the dedicated implementation of welfare schemes to improve infrastructure and reduce socio-economic gaps in 2019.
- The current government has ensured meaningful representation for Dalits within the organisation and government.
- For example, the youngest woman MLA from Gujarat, Malti Maheshwari, and numerous other leaders, are now making themselves heard and are suitably voicing the concerns and aspirations of Dalits across the country.
Promotion of entrepreneurship
- Schemes such as Stand-up India and MUDRAhave significantly benefited young people from the community in the last 6 years.
- Milind Kamble, the chairperson of Dalit Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DICCI),has been working with the government to create opportunities for entrepreneurship and self-employment for Dalit youth.
- “Be Job Givers and not Job Seekers” is a theme for the government.
- Milind kamble has a team of more than 5,000 entrepreneurs from SC and ST groups.
- Several youngsters have benefitted from schemes like a venture capital fund for SCs and a credit enhancement guarantee plan.
- The youth who want to become entrepreneurs are being supported through a network of growth centres and aiding financial assistance architecture.
- India should become extremely inclusive in its foundation, review its approach and focus on making the country a leading light in the new world order.
- Sustained economic empowerment, political representation and educational opportunities like the boost in the post-matric scholarship for SC students should be provided so that Dalits become an inseparable part of the New India story.
What are the issues in anti-conversion law?
Synopsis: After UP, MP has also promulgated an ordinance related to anti-conversion laws. But UP’s anti-conversion law itself is fraught with many challenges.
Prohibition of Unlawful Conversion of Religious Ordinance, 2020:
- Law prohibits conversion from one religion to another by “misrepresentation, force, fraud, undue influence, coercion, allurement or marriage”.
- Marriage will be declared “shunya” (null and void) if the “sole intention” was to “change a girl’s religion”
- The persons forced the girl to change religious conversion may face jail term of up to 10 years if the girl is minor, a woman from the Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe, if the person involved religious conversion on mass scale. For the rest of the cases, the jail term ranges from 1 to 5 years.
- The law also provides for the way to conversion. The person willing to convert to other religion would have to give it in writing to the District Magistrate at least two months in advance.
- The burden to proof would be on the person who caused the conversion or the person who facilitated it. If any violation is found under this provision, then she/he will face a jail term from 6 months to 3 year
- If any person reconverts to his immediate previous religion, then it shall not be deemed to be a violation of the ordinance.
Rationale behind the enactment of anti-conversion laws:
- Firstly, the threats of forceful conversion: Force not solely embody physical force to convert a person belongs to one faith to a different one however additionally it includes mental force like the “threat of divine displeasure”. For example, assume if a missionary informs a person that only Christians are allowed entry into heaven – a core part of the faith – that could also be construed as “force”.
- The Orissa High Court in Yulitha Hyde v. the State of Orissacase upheld this interpretation of “force” (Physical and mental).
- Secondly, the problem of Inducement or allurement: Odisha’s anti-conversion law mentions allurement or inducement as an offering of any gift or gratification, either in cash or in-kind, and also includes a grant of any benefit, which is pecuniary or otherwise. In Rev. Stanislaus vs State of Madhya Pradesh (1977) case the court upheld this definition.
- Thirdly, Religious conversion is not a Fundamental Right: Supreme Court in Rev. Stanislaus vs State of Madhya Pradesh (1977) case held that the conversion isn’t a fundamental Right and so could be regulated by the state. Both Odisha and Madhya Pradesh laws were upheld. This act as the legal basis for other such laws created by other States.
- Fourthly, the aim of all anti-conversion laws enacted by various States are same, such as to constrain the ability of communities and individuals to convert from their own religion to another in the name of protecting those sectors of society—namely women, children, backward castes and untouchables etc.
|Court’s judgement in Rev Stanislaus case: |
· The freedom of religion enshrined in Article 25 is not guaranteed in respect of one religion only but covers all religions alike… What is freedom for one is freedom for the other in equal measure and there can, therefore, be no such thing as a fundamental right to convert any person to one’s own religion
Issues with anti-conversion laws
- The Ordinance route taken by the government for promulgating this law is controversial as the law is not containing any specific urgency for this route.
- For promulgating an ordinance, 3 conditions must be satisfied
- State Legislature should not be in session;
- circumstances should exist for promulgating an ordinance
- Circumstances must warrant immediate action.
- However, disclosing the circumstances and urgency for the same is not mandatory.
- For promulgating an ordinance, 3 conditions must be satisfied
- Police do not require a special law to prevent a fraudulent or coercive inter-faith marriage. It can do so under normal circumstances too as in the case of child marriages.
- Section 7 authorises the arrest of a person by a police office on receipt of the information that a religious conversion is taking place.
- Arrest doesn’t require a magistrate order or warrant.
- Information can be a false news as seen in some of the recent cases.
- In case, a person want to convert but not marry, she/he require to inform a DM 2 month in advance. Then DM requires the police to inquire the real purpose of conversion and file a report.
- It leaves the scope of heavy pressure on the person from all around i.e. police and right groups.
- Section 12 of the article puts the burden of proof that it is not through coercion or fraud, on the person causing conversion through marriage or by any other way.
- This law through all the above methods is encroaching upon the right to privacy and violates the right to life, liberty and dignity of the consenting adults.
- These laws promotes patriarchal mind-set, where an adult women is unable to make her own choice in the matters of religion or marriage.
How to deal with the issues?
- Firstly, the need for uniformity, Article 18 of the Universal Declaration on Human Rights mentions everyone has the right to freedom of religion including changing their faith. That is included in the State laws but there is a wide variation in the state laws such as prison terms, burden of proof, the procedure to get converted, etc. Since the conversion falls within the “State list”. Central can frame a model law like Model law on contract farming etc.
- Secondly, State while enacting anti-conversion laws should also respect their Freedom to get convert and should not put any vague or ambiguous provisions for the person who wanted to convert of his own will.
- Thirdly, awareness to the people: People also need to be educated about the provisions and ways of Forceful conversions, Inducement or allurement, etc.
- Fourthly, disclosing circumstances leading to adopting the ordinance route should be made mandatory at both state level and central level.
- Fifthly, according to the USCIRF (United States Commission on International Religious Freedom), some observers note that “anti-conversion laws create a hostile, and on occasion violent, environment for religious minority communities since they do not require any evidences to support such accusations of wrongdoing.
- So, the anti-conversion laws also need to include a provision to mention the valid steps for conversion by minority community institutions.
Conversion in India is legal but not the conversion made using force/allurement/inducement to convert people. Various Court judgments have made conversion laws a legal one but not the laws which have whimsical/fanciful/arbitrary laws by State. So, there is a clear limit for the State to intervene in the religious conversion, this can be further demarcated by small but significant steps such as model law, enhancing awareness, etc.
Cabinet Approves changes In Post-Matric Scholarship Scheme For Scheduled Caste Students
Source: The Hindu
News: The Cabinet Committee on Economic Affairs has approved changes to the post-matric scholarship scheme for students from the Scheduled Castes.
- Changes are aimed to benefit more than 4 Crore SC students in the next 5 years so that they can successfully complete their higher education.
- Post Matric Scholarship scheme For Scheduled Caste Students: The Scheme aims to provide financial assistance to the Scheduled Caste students studying at post matriculation or post-secondary stage to enable them to complete their education.
- Eligibility: These scholarships are available for studies in India only and are awarded by the government of the State/Union Territory to which the applicant actually belongs i.e. permanently settled.
- Funding: It is a Centrally Sponsored scheme with a funding pattern of 60-40 for the Centre and States.
- This replaces the existing ”committed liability” system and brings greater involvement of the Central government in this scheme.
- Income Ceiling: Scholarships will be paid to the students whose parents/guardians’ income from all sources does not exceed Rs. 2,50,000/- (Rupees two lakh fifty thousand only).
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- Transparency: The scheme will be run on an online platform with cyber security measures that would assure transparency, accountability, efficiency, and timely delivery of the assistance without any delays.
- Community Audit: The community audits of the scheme would be conducted to make sure the benefits were reaching the students.
Issue of “love jihad”: Right of “free consent” for Marriage
Context: Many state governments have announced that they are considering enacting an appropriate law to stop marriages which they term as “love jihad”.
What are the recent cases?
- A Muslim girl by birth converted to the Hindu religion and just after a month, she married a Hindu man according to Hindu rites and rituals.
- The Allahabad court directed the girl to appear before a magistrate to record her statements.
- The purpose was to check whether the girl converted with her consent or not.
- In another matter, a Hindu girl by birth converted to Islam and married a Muslim. The High Court recorded her statement and after its subjective satisfaction that she, being a major, had acted of her own volition.
What was the basis of observations?
- Lily Thomas (2000) and Sarla Mudgal (1995): In both the cases, the issue was of Hindu married men committing bigamy to avail a second marriage, without dissolving the first just by converting from Hinduism to Islam.
- Section 494 and second marriage: Both judgments concluded that the second marriage of a Hindu husband, after his conversion to Islam, would not be valid in view of Section 494 of the Indian Penal Code. The Court clarified that a marriage solemnised as a Hindu marriage cannot be terminated by one spouse converting to another religion.
What are the arguments against such laws?
- No legal basis: The concept of “love jihad” has no legal or constitutional basis, it has been concocted for the last few years.
- Fundamental right: The right to marry a person of one’s choice is a guarantee under Article 21. At the same time, freedom of conscience, the practice and propagation of a religion of one’s choice, including not following any religion, are guaranteed under Article 25.
- Avoid mixing of issues: Polygamy, polyandry, kidnapping, coercion, etc. are separate issues covered under existing provisions of the IPC.
- Fundamental freedoms: The right to marry a person of one’s choice flows from the freedom of individuality, naturally available to any individual.
- Supreme court views: The view of the Supreme Court (1965) that a marriage is not approved unless the essential ceremonies required for its solemnisation are proved to have been performed can only be read if one partner denies the marriage.
- Marriage is the very foundation of civilised society: the observation that “marriage is the very foundation of civilised society” and without which no civilised society can exist have become obsolete given the recent judgments by larger benches of the Supreme Court.
- Sub-judice: The legality of legislation like the Citizenship Amendment Act, which excludes only one religion from its purview, criminalisation of pronouncements of triple talaq and taking away the special status of Jammu & Kashmir are pending consideration in the Supreme Court.
The Courts needs to examine if the individual concerned has exercised their right of “free consent”.
SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act: New developments and Evolution
SC has delivered a judgment in a recent appeal filed by a person booked under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act for allegedly abusing a Dalit woman in her house.
SC judgment on SC/ST (PoA)act
In this latest judgment related to the SC/ST Act, the Supreme Court has said:
- All types of intimidations or insults to persons belonging to Dalit or tribal communities will not be categorized as an offense under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.
- Only insults specifically intended to humiliate the victim for his caste should be tried under the SC/ST act.
What was the case?
- Judgment was delivered in response to the hearing of an appeal filed by a person, booked under the Act for allegedly abusing a Dalit woman in her house.
- The court found that allegations against persons do not fulfill the basic ingredient under the Act that such humiliation should have happened in public view.
- Since the incident occurred within four walls in the absence of the public, he can be tried under ordinary criminal law but not under the SC/ST act.
Evolution of SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989
Article 17 of the constitution abolished the practice of untouchability. In line with the constitutional provisions under article 17 and Articles 14, 15 , the untouchability (offenses) Act, 1955 was passed in parliament. In 1976, the act was renamed as protection of the civil rights act.
But due to the ineffectiveness of previous acts, ‘Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989’ was enacted.
SC/ST Act, 1989
Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989, also known as the SC/ST Act, was enacted to protect the marginalized communities against discrimination and atrocities.
- The Act lists various offenses relating to various patterns or behaviors inflicting criminal offenses and breaking the self-respect and esteem of the scheduled castes and tribes community, which includes denial of economic, democratic, and social rights, discrimination, exploitation, and abuse of the legal process.
- Under section 18 of the act, provision for anticipatory bail is not available to the offenders.
- Any public servant, who deliberately neglects his duties under this act, is liable to punishment with imprisonment for up to 6 months.
SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities (Amendment) Act, 2015
Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2015 was introduced to make the act more stringent with the following provisions:
- It recognized more instances of “atrocities” as crimes against SCs and STs.
- It provided for the establishment of exclusive special courts and special public prosecutors to try offenses under the PoA Act.
- Act defined the term ‘wilful negligence’ in the context of public servants at all levels, starting from the registration of the complaint to dereliction of duty under this Act.
- If the accused was acquainted with the victim or his family, the court will presume that the accused was aware of the caste or tribal identity of the victim unless proved otherwise.
2018 SC judgment
Supreme Court in its Kashinath Mahajan judgment, introduced the following safeguards to the accused under SC/ST act.
- The bar on anticipatory bail under the Act need not prevent courts from granting advance bail if there is no merit in a complaint
- “Preliminary enquiry” to be conducted in all cases before registration of FIRs.
- The person can be arrested by an investigating officer, only if the “appointing authority” (in the case of a public servant) or the SP (in the case of others) approves such arrest.
2018 amendment to the Act
In 2018, in response to this dilution of the act and public uproar against it, Parliament introduced Section 18A to overturn safeguards introduced by the Supreme Court.
- Preliminary inquiry shall not be required for registration of a First Information Report against any person.
- No approval is required before the arrest of the accused under this act.
- It rules out any provision (Section 438 of the CrPC that deals with anticipatory bail) for anticipatory bail for the accused.
Prathvi Raj Chauhan case, 2020
In this case, the constitutional validity of section 18-A of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2018 was challenged.
- In this case, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court of India has upheld the Constitutional validity of section 18-A.
- pre-arrest bail should be granted only in extraordinary situations where a denial of bail would mean a miscarriage of justice
- Anticipatory bail can only be given in exceptional cases by Courts and not in every case.
How effective has been SC/ST act?
Following are some of the figures that raise questions over the effectiveness of the SC/ST PoA Act:
- Increase in crimes: As per the NCRB report, 2019, Crimes against members of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes communities increased by 7.3% and 26.5% respectively in 2019.
- State-wise: Uttar Pradesh has the most number of cases of crime against SCs – 11,829 cases, which is 25.8% of the total such cases in the country followed by Rajasthan with 6,794 cases (14.8% of all cases), Bihar (14.2%), and Madhya Pradesh (11.5%).
- Conviction rate: According to a status report on the implementation of the PoA Act, released by the National Dalit Movement for Justice (NDMJ), over the decade prior to 2018, the average conviction rate under(Prevention of Atrocities) Act
for cases of atrocities against Dalits and Adivasis remained at 25.2% and 22.8% respectively.
What more should be done?
- Registration of Cases: Standard Operating Procedure (SoP) should be developed for filing and investigating cases so that there is no confusion or doubt among the investigators about the procedure to be followed.
- Training and Capacity building of judges, lawyers, and policemen is required in these types of cases
- Prosecution: Successful prosecution of genuine cases by the lawyers must be rewarded.
- Research: There is a requirement for research into the types of punishment, as an alternative to imprisonment that can prevent future crimes by individuals or communities.
As signified in the figures above, Laws alone cannot realize the vision of our constitution-makers to make India a country where everyone has equal rights, opportunities, and access to justice, it is only one of the steps required.
It requires the educational and economic advancement of the backward communities like SCs and STs in India and educational reforms all over the country so that root cause of the discrimination can be dealt with.