BSP president Mayawati supported Monday’s ‘Bharat bandh’ organised by Dalit outfits against what they claimed was “dilution” of the SC/ST Act by a Supreme Court order, but as Uttar Pradesh chief minister she had herself initiated steps to check the misuse of the law.
Mayawati said she supported the protests against the changes in the SC/ST law but condemned the violence that took place blaming anti-social elements for it.
Various Dalit organisations had called for a nation-wide shutdown or a ‘Bharat Bandh’ to protest against the apex court ruling. The court had, on March 20, introduced the provision of anticipatory bail in the act while directing there would be no automatic arrest on any complaint filed under the law.
BSP backed the bandh but in in 2007 when it was in power, as chief minister, Mayawati had issued two orders to safeguard against the misuse of the Act or false implication of innocent people.
In an order issued on October 29, 2007, by then UP chief secretary Prashant Kumar, it was stated that Superintendents of Police and SSPs must take cognisance of serious offences like murder and rape and carry out the investigations on priority and ensuring prompt justice in the cases of atrocities on members of the SC/ST while ensuring that no innocent was harassed.
“If it is found in investigations that a fake case has been made, action should be taken under section 182 of the IPC,” the order had said.
The order was an amendment to an earlier May 20, 2007 missive.
The two orders issued by the then chief secretaries specified that action should not be initiated merely on the basis of a complaint but arrests should be made after the accused is found prima facie guilty in the initial probe.
In the first letter, dated May 20, 2007, and sent by the then chief secretary Shambhu Nath, point number 18 dealt at length with the issue of police complaints under the Act.
The missive was issued barely a week after Mayawati was sworn in as UP CM.
The highlight of the directive was that only serious offences like murder and rape should be registered under the Act while the less serious crimes should be dealt under the relevant sections of the IPC.
In case of a rape complaint under the SC/ST Act, action should be initiated against the accused only after sexual assault is corroborated in the medical examination of the victim and if prima facie the charges appear to be true, it said.
The note stated that police should not initiate action merely because a complaint had been lodged by a person from the SC and ST community as there were instances where people use such individuals settle scores with rivals.