The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989

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The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 (Act no. 33 of 1989) being the Act of Parliament of India, was assented by the President of India on 11th September, 1989. The said Act was enacted to provide for prevention of commission of offences of Atrocities against the members of communities i.e. Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes. The Act further makes provision to provide for Special Courts for the dealing with the trial of such offences. And also provides for giving relief and providing rehabilitation of the victims thereof. The Government of India in the year 1989 enacted this Act to describes specifically the crimes against the Scheduled Castes and Schedules Tribes. The Crime is defined as ‘Atrocities’. The Act further makes provision for inflicting punishments against such offences or crime.

The chapter containing preliminary provisions under this Act, is Chapter I of the Act, where the Act was short titled and the extension thereof is provided over the entire Indian territories, however, the provision of this Act should not be applied or extended to the State of Jammu and Kashmir, as per specific provision of this Act. Similarly, the definitions of the various terms, being important so far these are used in the provisions of the Act, for the real interpretation of the provision are provided under this Chapter.

The next Chapter is making highly important provisions so far as they are connected with the purpose of this Act. The Chapter specifies the offences of Atrocities under the Act. Section 3 of the Act enlisted number of offences of atrocities and provides punishments thereof. Some of the important offences provided under sub section (1) of the section, are forcing any member of Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe to eat any inedible or obnoxious substance; acting intentionally to cause injury, insult or annoyance to any such member by dumping excreta, waste matter, etc. in his premises; removing cloths of any such member; etc. Notably the offences described under this provision are including the offences in respect of person and property of such members. The punishment in respect of these offences is imprisonment for maximum term is not less than 6 months and not more than 5 years and also fine. Sub section (2) of this section also provides for certain offences and punishments thereof. Similarly, section 4 is important where it is given that, if the person being public servant and not a member as such, is required to perform certain duties under this Act, is wilfully neglected by him then such person to be punished under this Act with the imprisonment of maximum given term is 1 year and minimum is 6 months. Moreover, if any one who is already convicted under this Chapter, if again and again commits any offence under this Chapter, then such person is to be punished with imprisonment minimum up to 1 year and maximum should be exceeding to the punishment provided for that offence.

The section 6 speaks of applicability of section 34 and Chapter III to VA and also section 149 and Chapter XXIII of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (45 of 1860). Provision has also been made as to forfeiting the property of any such offender to the Government, as per suction 7 of the Act.

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Section 9 of the Act is important as it is providing that the State Government can confer the power exercisable by a police officer in relation to any specified District. The powers include the matter of investigation and prosecution of persons before Special Court. And also the provision says that, such officer, should be assisted by all police official and other officers of the Government.

The Next chapter i.e. Chapter III of the Act deals with provisions as to externment. Section 10 wherein provides that when any person as per satisfaction of the Special Court found likely to commit any offence under this Act, in the area specified as Scheduled areas or Tribal area within the meaning of Article 244 of the Constitution of India. In such situations, the Special Court can direct such person to remove himself from such area for the period not to exceed 2 year. And section 11 specifies procedure on failure to comply with such order and section 12 deals with the relevant provision thereto.

Chapter V makes miscellaneous provision wherein section 17 is important as it is connected with the object to take preventive actions by the Law and order machinery. Section 21 required the Government to implement effective the provision of this Act by taking certain contemplated measures. Similarly, section 23 of the Act empowers the Central Government to provide for rules in the official gazette, which should be to carry out the purpose of this Act. As such the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Rules, 1995 were framed by the Central Government.

Recently, in the 2013 there was introduced before the House of People, a Bill seeking amendment of provisions this Act. And in the year 2014 the Ordinance in pursuance to that Bill was promulgated by the President of India. The amendments are in consonance to the updated need of the running situations. More specifically, the Amending Ordinance provides for Executive special Court in addition to the Special Court and other similar important amendments are provided.

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by Faim Khalilkhan Pathan.