Current Affairs UPSC Law Optional Mains on SC/ST Act | Contemporary legal development


SC/ST Act: Work towards increasing conviction rate


What happened ? Police officials and Law departments are instructed by CM B.S. Yediyurappa to register FIR’s without any kind of delay in cases of atrocities under SC/ST Act because conviction rate of cases under this Act is only 6%.


MAJOR PROVISIONS TO NOTE


Atrocity defined | Section 2(1)(a) of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 defines ‘atrocity’ as an offence punishable under Section 3 of the Act.


Constitutional link | Further Section 2(1)(c) provides that ‘Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes’ shall have the same meaning as assigned to them under clause (24) and (25) of Article 366 of the Constitution.


  • Article 366(24) of the Constitution provides ‘Scheduled Castes’ means such castes, races or tribes or parts of or groups within such castes, races or tribes as are deemed under Article 341 to be Scheduled Castes for the purposes of Constitution of India.

  • Article 366(25) of the Constitution provides ‘Scheduled Tribes’ means such tribes or tribal communities or parts of or groups within such tribes or tribal communities as are deemed under article 342 to be Scheduled Tribes for the purposes of this Constitution.

  • Article 341 and 342 provides that President may after consultation with the Governor specify who shall be deemed to be Scheduled Castes or Scheduled Tribes respectively.

Punishment | Section 3 of the SC/ST Act provides atrocities which shall be an offence under this Act and punishable accordingly. Section 14 of the Act provides for setting up special courts to deal with cases under this Act.


Provision to prevent delay | The Act provides that investigation shall be completed within 60 days and then without any delay the police shall file charge sheet before the court. So that trial should not get delayed.


RECENT AMENDMENTS | The Act has been amended in 2018 and new Section 18A has been inserted. Section 18A provides-


1)For the purposes of this Act,

  • Preliminary enquiry shall not be required for registration of a First Information report against any person, or

  • The investigating officer shall not require approval for the arrest if necessary, of any person,

Against whom an accusation of having committed an offence under this Act has been made and no procedure other than provided under this Act or Code shall apply.


MAJOR POINT TO NOTE : The provisions of Section 438 of the Code of Criminal Procedure shall not apply to a case under this Act.


It means anticipatory bail cannot be granted in case of an offence under SC/ST Act except in the cases where complaint does not cover prima facie case under SC/ST Act.


RECENT CASE LAW : Prithvi Raj Chauhan v. Union of India, 2020 SC also says the same.


Despite making stringent legislation, the crime against such communities is neither eradicated nor accused are convicted in majority of the cases. Keeping this in mind, the CM of Karnataka organized a meeting to create awareness about the Act and directed police to register FIRs immediately whenever any atrocity is committed against SC or ST ad released huge amount for victim compensation.


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