The first Act of 2016 being the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2015 was enacted by the Parliament of India with the object to amend the provisions of the principal enactment, i.e. ‘the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 (Act no. 33 of 1989). The Bill to this effect was earlier introduced in the Lok Sabha by the Minister of Social Justice and Empowerment on 16th day of July, 2014. Also, the Ordinance which was earlier to that promulgated in this connection was also to be replaced by this Amending Act. The main object of the principal Act is that to prohibit the commission of the offences against the members of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and also provides for the establishment of the Special courts for the conduct of trial of such offences under that Act and also for the rehabilitation of the victims.
Now, in the provisions of this new Amending Act, the Special Courts in the Principal law are replaced with the ‘Special Courts and Exclusive Special Courts’. Such Exclusive Special Courts are to be established in the district level for trying the offences which are provided under this Amending Act. However, if any district is having fewer number of the cases, then only ‘Special courts’ to be established for such trial. Also, the public prosecutors and Exclusive public prosecutors were sought to be appointed in such courts. Also, some definitions in the Act are added with this Amendment.
Moreover, this Amending Act brings changes in the principal enactment for adding or replacing some existing categories of the actions (by Non- SC or ST member) against SCs or STs to be treated as offence under the original Act. Even if any non- SC or ST member is forcing any SC or ST member to vote or not to vote for a particular candidate, then it will be treated as an offence, and this Amending Act is also seeking to add that the impeding certain activities in this connection will also be treated as offence.
Also, the offence relating to the women, as sexual exploitation, assaults against the women being member of SC or ST category, is also punishable under this Act. also, some new offences added by this Amending Act like garlanding with footwear, compelling to dispose or carry human or animal carcasses or to do manual scavenging, abusing such members by caste name in public, etc. Also, some offences are also specified for the public servants who are not the members of SC or ST category. Thus, all such important amendments were effected though this amending Act.