Justice…A far fetched dream for Dalits and Tribals

Updated On: 2017-07-15 10:08:13 Justice…A far fetched dream for Dalits and Tribals

Chennai : Justice seems to be a far-fetched dream for the Dalits and the tribals in Tamil Nadu if one goes by the conviction rate under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act.

The rate of conviction in cases booked under the SC/ST Act in the State was a mere 4.3 per cent compared to the national average of 25.8 per cent. The state has witnessed a steady fall in the conviction rate in the last five years. In 2011, the it was 36.6 per cent against the national average of 30 per cent.

Next year, it halved to a 17.4 per cent, and further down to 12.6 per cent in 2013 compared to the country’s average of 23.8 per cent and 22.8 per cent respectively, according to the National Crime Record Bureau statistics.

Strangely, the steady decline comes at a time when social activists allege that crime against the Dalits had gone up in the state following political mobilisation of numerically strong Intermediate Caste groups against Dalits by certain political parties. Number of FIRs filed under the SC/ST Act in 2015 was 1,822. 

Though the court passes the order based on evidence and merits of the case, activist feels that the low rate of conviction was due to failure on the part of police in investigating the case and public prosecutors failing to present case properly. There are many factors that lead to the acquittal in the SC/ST Act, said A Narayanan, Director, Change India, a centre for advocacy and research.

“In a casteist society like ours, compromises are made at all levels from the time of filing of FIR, evidence gathering by the Investigating Officer, lack of victim protections, untrained and insensitive lawyers handling such cases, and absence of special courts. All these lead to the higher number of acquittal,” he said.

A senior police officer said that steps were being taken to sensitise the police on the provision of the new stringent amendments brought into the SC/ST Act, which defines 180 types of untouchability and atrocities.

(Courtesy : DNA)


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