Bharatiya Janata Party-ruled Rajasthan has reported the highest number of cases of atrocities against Scheduled Castes and Tribes during 2013-15, followed by poll-bound Uttar Pradesh, and Bihar, a new government report said on Monday even as the Centre flagged the issue of poor conviction rates in such cases.
In the period, Rajasthan registered 23,861 cases under the amended Prevention of Atrocities (PoA) Act, while UP and Bihar registered 23,556 and 21,061 cases respectively.
The data was shared in the agenda papers for a meeting of a committee to review the implementation of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act 1989 held on Monday.
Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Odisha, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Tamil and Gujarat reported 14,016, 9,054, 8,084, 7,565, 6,546, 5,131 and 3,969 such crimes respectively during the years.
The Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment observed that during 2013-15, only 43.3 per cent of the total cases registered (13,8077) were disposed of by courts and 25.7 per cent of total cases disposed of by courts (59,779), ended in conviction.
“In certain states, i.e. Andhra Pradesh (6.3 per cent), Gujarat (3.1 per cent), Karnataka (3.5 per cent), Maharashtra (7.6 per cent), Odisha (4.3 per cent), Tamil Nadu (7.5 per cent), Telangana (7.5 per cent) and West Bengal (3 per cent), the conviction rate was in single digit,” the agenda note read.
The committee headed by Union Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Thaawarchand Gehlot sought action taken report from state governments to improve the disposal and conviction rates in such cases. During the meeting, Gehlot pointed out that only 14 states have set up exclusive special courts for speedy trial of cases registered under the PoA Act.
However, he rued there was no information about formation of such courts by 22 states and Union Territories including Delhi, Punjab, Jharkhand, Haryana, Goa, West Bengal, Arunachal Pradesh, Assam etc and urged them to do the needful.
Section 14 of the amended PoA Act provides for establishing of exclusive special courts for one or more districts and where number of cases under this Act is less, specification of Court of Session as a Special Court, with powers to take direct cognisance of the offences under the PoA Act.
Charing the meeting of the Committee to review implementation of PCR Act, 1955 and the SC & ST PoA Act, 1989, Gehlot said that the PoA Act has been amended with an objective to deliver greater justice to member of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.
“The amended Act includes several new offence besides rephrasing and expanding the earlier ones and establishment of exclusive special courts for speedy trial of cases,” Gehlot said, according to statement by his ministry.
The Committee also wanted to know if the relief amount, that has been raised and made between Rs 85,000 to Rs 8,25,000 depending upon the nature of offence, is being given within seven days to the concerned persons as specified in the PoA Rules amended on April 14, 2016.
The Ministry has been addressing the state governments and Union Territories to “implement the provisions of the Protection of Civil Right Act, 1955 and the PoA, 1989 in letter and spirit,” with specific emphasis on setting up of exclusive special courts for speedy trial of cases, training and sensitization of police officers and other concerned officers, awareness generation, identification of atrocity prone areas as an ongoing process and review of cases ending in acquittal, the statement added.
(With PTI inputs)