SC/ST Act controversy and reason for protest in India

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Reddit
  • Flipboard
  • Email
  • WhatsApp
Representational Image
Representational Image

New Delhi : India is home to people from different strata and background has lived together for centuries. But the brotherhood has to live to in disharmony due to social division. Later the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act of 1989 was brought in with the aim to prevent oppression of people belonging to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

The Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act is popularly known as POA, the SC/ST Act, the Prevention of Atrocities Act, or simply the Atrocities Act. The SC/ST Act was enacted on September 9, 1989. The rules for the Act were notified on March 31, 1995. Take a look at the rules as per SC/ST Act which is creating controversial issues, today.

The SC/ST Act lists 22 offences relating to various patterns or behaviours inflicting criminal offences and breaking the self-respect and esteem of the scheduled castes and tribes community. 

The Act includes denial of economic, democratic and social rights, discrimination, exploitation and abuse of the legal process.

According to the SC/ST Act, the protection is provided from social disabilities such as denial of access to certain places and to use customary passage, personal atrocities like forceful drinking or eating of inedible food sexual exploitation, injury etc, atrocities affecting properties, malicious prosecution, political disabilities and economic exploitation.

 An altered law came into effect from January 26 of 2016 which widened offences recognised by the Act and also promised to further ensure a speedy judicial process.

For speedy trial, Section 14 of the SC/ST Act provides for a Court of Session to be a Special Court to try offences under this Act in each district.

SC/ST Act controversy

The controversy took birth when on March 20, the Supreme Court noted that there are instances of abuse using SC/ST Act against government servants. It held that a public servant can only be arrested after approval of the appointing authority. Whereas a non-public servant can be arrested after approval by the Senior Superintendent of Police (SSP) which may be granted in appropriate cases if considered necessary for reasons recorded.

A preliminary inquiry will also have to be conducted before an FIR is filed and it is to be ascertained whether the charges fall under the Act or is a result of political and/or personal reasons.

The SC/ST act has now come under a barrage of criticism. Recently, Dalits and other SC and ST communities across India called for a Bharat Bandh against the SC order. 

Also, National Commission for Scheduled Castes and the National Commission for Scheduled Tribes have expressed their reservations against the Supreme Court's verdict

Union Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has assured that the matter will be taken up and that the government is all set to file a review petition.