The issue of Schedule caste / Scheduled Tribe act

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The issue of Schedule caste / Scheduled Tribe act

  • In March 2018, the Supreme Court observed that the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act of 1989 has become an instrument to “blackmail” innocent citizens and public servants.


  • The Supreme Court’s decision to issue guidelines to check the abuse of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, has raised many eyebrows with several political parties and Dalit activists demanding its review. The apex court ordered that under the Act, a public servant can be arrested after approval of the appointing authority and a non-public servant only after a sanction by the Senior Superintendent of Police. It opened a window of anticipatory bail and a way to ascertain whether complaints against the accused were frivolous or motivated.


  • In India, SCs and STs have suffered social ostracisation and economic deprivation for centuries. To address this social deficit and achieve the “dignity of the individual” was set out as one of the objectives in the Preamble to the Constitution. Article 17 abolished untouchability and made it “an offence punishable in accordance with law”. Despite laws, the abhorrent practice of discrimination and violence against the SCs and STs continues.


  • Statistics show that the conviction rate under the Act is low and the less-than-enthusiastic pursuit of investigation and prosecution reflects in the disposal of cases by courts. On the other hand, most result in acquittal/withdrawal or compounding of most cases against the accused too.


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