SC/ST Atrocities Act

The union government plans to bring an ordinance to overturn the Supreme Court verdict putting safeguards on arrests under the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. It would also subsequently introduce a bill to insulate it from further judicial scrutiny.

The government is likely to introduce the bill in the monsoon session of Parliament to incorporate the legislation in the Ninth Schedule of the Constitution, laws under which cannot be challenged in courts.

Through the ordinance, the government will reintroduce provisions of the act which it feels were diluted by the Supreme Court verdict in March this year.

Referring to the proposed bill, an official said, “Once included in the Ninth Schedule, the legislation gets protection under Article 31-B (validation of certain Acts and Regulations) and is not subject to judicial scrutiny.”

Recently, the Supreme Court refused to stay it’s March 20 order diluting certain provisions of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

About SC/ST Act:

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.

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. This 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.

For the 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.

The prime objective of the SC/ST Act is to deliver justice to marginalised through proactive efforts, giving them a life of dignity, self-esteem and a life without fear, violence or suppression from the dominant castes.

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