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Why Are Dalits Annoyed At Supreme Court And Why Did They Call For Bharat Bandh?

News of public transport not functioning, shops being closed, bank holidays, chaos and confusion. Blanket Name – Bharat Bandh.

Several Dalit organizations staged a protest as part of the countrywide turbulence called by them against the Supreme Court order on the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act banning automatic arrest and registration of cases.

Since the past few days protests were held against the top court’s ruling on the SC/ST Act.  After this several Dalit outfits had called for a Bharat Bandh today.

In an effort to prevent the misuse of SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989) and protect honest public servants carrying out genuine duties, the Supreme Court on March 20 diluted its strict provisions under the law. The protest came against this revision.

So, what exactly is the SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act all about?

The Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 is an Act of the Parliament of India enacted to prevent atrocities against scheduled castes and scheduled tribes. This Act is popularly known as POA, the SC/ST Act, the Prevention of Atrocities Act.

The act punishes crimes committed against people belonging to Scheduled Castes and Tribes. It has provisions to set up courts for fast completion of cases and also provides protection and rights to victims.

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Misuse of the Law

The Law was being misused and there were instances wherein public servants were finding it difficult to give adverse remarks against employees for fear that they may be charged.

Reports state that in 2016, 5,347 cases reported under the act were found to be false against the Scheduled Castes and 912 against Scheduled Tribes.

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Government gathered figures from the Annual Report 2016-17 of the Department of Social Justice and Empowerment to show that in the year 2015, a total of 15,638 cases under the Act were marked by courts across the country of which 11,024 cases resulted in absolution or discharge and only 4,119 cases resulted in a conviction.

So what about The Scheduled Castes & Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities Act), 1989 changed recently by Supreme Court?

In an effort to prevent the misuse of SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989) and protect honest public servants carrying out genuine duties, the Supreme Court on March 20 diluted its strict provisions under the law. In the new ruling, the Supreme Court has put checks on the arrest made under the Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989. Further, the top court has clarified that in instances where no prima facie case is made out against the accused, there cannot be a blanket denial of anticipatory bail which is a part of the right to liberty under the Constitution. The court gave a clear and definite interpretation to Section 18 of the Act to ensure fairness of procedure which barred any person booked under the Act to get an anticipatory bail.

To stop any abuse or malafide prosecution, the court has put checks by way of introducing a procedure before the arrest is made. If the accused is a public servant then a due approval of the appointing officer is required, if it’s an ordinary citizen then the written permission of the senior superintendent of police is required before the arrest.

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The move has received mixed interpretations from political thought leaders.

Effects of Bharat Bandh

Apart from the railway blocks and road traffic severe cases of vandalizing public property, disruption of normal life, pelting of stones have been witnessed.  In Punjab, the CBSE postponed Class 10 and 12 examinations today at the request of the state government.

A commission of the Dalit lawmakers is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi to intimate him of the issues concerning the SCs and STs, including the despair among the community over the apex court verdict on SC/ST Act.

A demonstration is scheduled on April 4 at Parliament Street by the Congress party, which has urged the Centre to file a review petition, against the verdict and the atrocities committed against Dalits in different parts of the country.

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Sharika Nair

Uncrowned Queen of certified PJs. Positive thinker. Writer . Author. Marathon Runner. Brand Marketing expert.

About the Author

Sharika Nair

Uncrowned Queen of certified PJs. Positive thinker. Writer . Author. Marathon Runner. Brand Marketing expert.

Read more from Sharika