Scheduled Castes/ Tribes: crimes against, and prevention of

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Crimes against SCs (Worst 15 states); Crimes against STs (States with over 100 incidents in 2014); Graphic courtesy: The Times of India, October 22, 2015

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Atrocities against SCs: The constitutional view

India Today, February 3, 2016

The 10 worst states for a dalit in India according to the number of incidents, 2014; Graphic courtesy: India Today, February 3, 2016
A series of legislations meant to protect dalits in India, 1950-89; Graphic courtesy: India Today, February 3, 2016
A series of legislations meant to protect dalits in India, 1995-2015; Graphic courtesy: India Today, February 3, 2016

Ajit Kumar Jha

68 years after Independence, political rhetoric and Constitutional protection have failed to end atrocities against Dalits. Is Ambedkar's dream of social and economic equality a bridge too far?

"The State shall promote with special care the educational and economic interests of the weaker section of the people, and in particular, of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes, and shall protect them from social injustice and all forms of exploitation."

-Article 46 of the Indian Constitution.

Today, 68 years after Independence, as Dalits continue to bear the brunt of violence and discrimination-highlighted in recent weeks by the tragic suicide of Rohith Vemula, a Ph.D student in the Hyderabad Central University who hanged himself, blaming his birth as a "fatal accident" in a chilling final note-we could not be any further away from what the Constitution had demanded from a free and fair India.

Rohith's is not the lone tragedy. A spectre of suicide deaths by several Dalit students is haunting India. Out of 25 students who committed suicide only in north India and Hyderabad since 2007, 23 were Dalits. This included two in the prestigious All-India Institute of Medical Sciences in New Delhi, and 11 in Hyderabad city alone. Systematic data does not exist for such suicides, but the problem runs far deeper than a few students deciding to end their own lives after being defeated by the system. Dalit dilemma in India reads like an entire data sheet of tragedies. According to a 2010 report by the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) on the Prevention of Atrocities against Scheduled Castes, a crime is committed against a Dalit every 18 minutes. Every day, on average, three Dalit women are raped, two Dalits murdered, and two Dalit houses burnt. According to the NHRC statistics put together by K.B. Saxena, a former additional chief secretary of Bihar, 37 per cent Dalits live below the poverty line, 54 per cent are undernourished, 83 per 1,000 children born in a Dalit household die before their first birthday, 12 per cent before their fifth birthday, and 45 per cent remain illiterate. The data also shows that Dalits are prevented from entering the police station in 28 per cent of Indian villages. Dalit children have been made to sit separately while eating in 39 per cent government schools. Dalits do not get mail delivered to their homes in 24 per cent of villages. And they are denied access to water sources in 48 per cent of our villages because untouchability remains a stark reality even though it was abolished in 1955. We may be a democratic republic, but justice, equality, liberty and fraternity-the four basic tenets promised in the Preamble of our Constitution-are clearly not available to all. Dalits continue to be oppressed and discriminated against in villages, in educational institutions, in the job market, and on the political battlefront, leaving them with little respite in any sphere or at any juncture of their lives.

All this even while there has been no dearth of political rhetoric, or creation of laws, to pronounce that Dalits must not get a raw deal. The Protection of Civil Rights Act, 1955, and the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, prescribe punishments from crimes against Dalits that are much more stringent than corresponding offences under the IPC. Special courts have been established in major states for speedy trial of cases registered exclusively under these Acts. In 2006, former prime minister Manmohan Singh even equated the practice of "untouchability" to that of "apartheid" and racial segregation in South Africa. In December 2015, the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill, passed by Parliament, made several critical changes. New activities were added to the list of offences. Among them were preventing SCs/STs from using common property resources, from entering any places of public worship, and from entering an education or health institution. In case of any violation, the new law said that the courts would presume unless proved otherwise that the accused non-SC/ST person was aware of the caste or tribal identity of the victim. So why have violent incidents against Dalits increased, rather than decreased over the years, in spite of Constitutional protection and legal safeguards? "Caste is not simply a law and order problem but a social problem. Caste violence can only be eradicated with the birth of a new social order," says Chandra Bhan Prasad, co-author of Defying the Odds: The Rise of Dalit Entrepreneurs. He argues that the upward mobility of some Dalits caused by market reforms post-1991, ironically leads to higher incidence of atrocities in the form of a backlash.

Education, the hotbed

Protest is starting to brew in institutions of higher education. At Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University, hundreds of students gathered at the Ganga dhaba on the eve of Vemula's 27th birthday on January 29 to organise a candlelight vigil. Organised under the aegis of Joint Action Committee (JAC), the students were led by the Birsa Munda, Phule and Ambedkar Student's Association (BAPSA), a body formed on November 14, 2014. Birsa, Phule and Ambedkar have replaced Marx, Lenin and Mao in JNU as icons of "identity", and "caste" replaces "class" as the main issue. Who are the new student leaders? Sanghapalli Aruna Lohitakshi, a linguistics Ph.D student from Vishakhapatnam, Andhra Pradesh, is one of the founding members of BAPSA, which is akin to poet Namdeo Dhasal's Dalit Panthers of the 1970s. She speaks of "ghettoisation by upper-caste students," and "Dalit faculty seats being converted into general seats on the pretext that no suitable Dalit candidates were found". Though BAPSA and groups such as the Ambedkar Students' Association spew venom and spit fire, their struggle highlights a form of subversive protest that fights suppression with suicide. To borrow from JNU Professor Gopal Guru, it showcases the "clash between the life of the mind versus the life of the caste". The primary reason for educational institutions emerging as pulpits of protest lies in the fractured social structure in universities, where the elite of the Dalits are competing with general students. Not only are they more aware of Constitutional provisions, they feel they are treated unfairly by university authorities and student bodies such as the ABVP by virtue of their selection in the reserved category. This is what Rohith had articulated in his suicide note, and was seemingly corroborated by the circumstances behind his suspension from the university after a skirmish with the ABVP.

Rampant segregation

In villages and urban slums, however, where segregation is rampant to this day, voices are stifled even before they can be raised. A stark example of this is a dusty little hamlet called Sunpedh-meaning empty trees-in Ballabhgarh, Haryana, barely 40 kilometres from Delhi. The tension is palpable, the stillness stifling, as the centre of the village feels like a fortress with 65 Haryana police personnel posted to prevent inter-caste clashes. No one greets anyone, no one is smiling.

Untouchability is practised widely in Sunpedh. Ask about Ram Prasad, a local grocery shop-owner, and the instant response from a young man on a motorbike is: "Chamaron ke ilake mein jayiye (Go where the Dalits live). The upper-caste areas are separated from the low-lying Dalit quarters with mud puddles all around. The entire hamlet comprises approximately 2,700 bighas of land, of which 2,000 bighas is owned by 300 families of Thakurs. The rest is owned by Dalit communities, including 150 Ravidas families, and smaller numbers of Valmikis, Garerias, and Dhimars. Most of the Dalits survive as daily-wage labourers in the farms of the Thakurs. Here, on the night of October 21, 2015, four members of a Dalit family were set ablaze inside their house: Jitender, his wife Rekha, and their children Vaivhav, 2, and Divya, nly 10 months old. The village erupted in grief and indignation the next day when the bodies of the infants, wrapped in white shrouds, arrived for cremation. Jitender escaped while Rekha suffered serious burn injuries. Their gutted home is officially sealed, guarded by the police. Jitender's mother Santa Devi, his 85-year old grandmother Buddhan Devi, his aunt Kanta (all three are widows) and his married sister Gita, sleep in the open in the severe winter cold since the house is officially sealed. "There seems no flame of justice, no place to live, no one to earn, no money for lawyers, no one to care for us three widows," says Buddhan. "My brother Jitender threatens to commit suicide every day. Suicide, like the Rohith Vemula case, seems like the only option for a Dalit," laments Gita. A majority of the heinous crimes against Dalits, as documented by the NHRC, are perpetrated in villages in which they are treated as second-class citizens. But discrimination isn't a rural problem alone. Joblessness among Dalits runs through the urban landscape as well. According to 2011 Census data, the unemployment rate for SCs between 15 and 59 years of age was 18 per cent, including marginal workers seeking work, as compared to 14 per cent for the general population. Among STs, the unemployment rate was even higher at over 19 per cent.

Violent heartland

Government data suggests that the usual suspect in terms of incidence of crime committed against SCs is the Hindi heartland. Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan top the list with 8,075 and 8,028 cases respectively in 2014. Bihar is the third-worst with 7,893 incidents. Neither the political regime, nor the ideology of the ruling political party, nor the presence of major Dalit parties within the states makes a difference. Rajasthan and MP are ruled by BJP governments, Uttar Pradesh by the SP and Bihar by the JD (U). All the parties are equally guilty of sins of omission and commission. "The absence of social reform movements in the heartland states in contrast to the southern states has contributed to the presence of brutal caste wars in the north," says P.S. Krishnan, a former welfare secretary. In the south, the undivided Andhra Pradesh is the worst performer with 4,114 atrocities recorded in 2014. Part of the reason for this is the backlash by privileged groups against a new form of assertion of rights and display of aspirations by Dalit youth. The emergence of Dalit parties such as Mayawati's BSP, and the rise of Maoists in Bihar and Andhra Pradesh, explains the rise of violent incidents in these states. An assertion of Dalit rights, whether in terms of identity politics (in Uttar Pradesh), or class politics (Bihar and Andhra Pradesh), leads to a backlash. All through the 1990s, Bihar was wracked by caste wars-most notably Ranvir Sena versus Lal Sena-in parts of Jehanabad, Aurangabad, Gaya and Bhojpur. Dalit politics typically takes two forms: militant movements and electoral coalitions. The democratic electoral route is ironically poised on the cusp of a cruel paradox in which Dalit groups must either ally with mainstream political parties and risk compromising with the Dalit agenda; or fight it out alone and risk getting pushed to the margins. It is a Hobson's Choice. The reason is that the spread of Dalit population throughout India is such that by themselves they are always in a minority. In any electoral battle, they can only benefit if they form an alliance either with other dominant caste groups, or mainstream political parties. In Uttar Pradesh, for example, Mayawati allied initially with mainstream parties-Congress, BJP and the Samajwadi Party-but ended up quitting the alliance each time in a huff. Later, she changed her strategy by forming alliances "directly with upper-caste groups and minorities", says BSP's Sudhindra Bhadoria. "The Brahmins and Thakurs form an alliance with BSP not because they have an ideological affinity but because they want to defeat the Yadav-led SP," adds another BSP leader. In spite of such alliances, however, the BSP faced defeats in the 2012 Assembly polls and 2014 Lok Sabha elections in UP because its math was trumped by the Yadav-Muslim combine and the consolidation of the Hindu vote.

The way out

The obvious ways to ensure that the lot of the Dalits is improved are education, rise in economic status, market reforms transforming the lives of millions of Dalits living in impecunious conditions. But not many experts are convinced of this path to empowerment. "Market reforms can touch the life of a few thousands of Dalits but it simply creates an island of prosperity amongst a sea of penury," says Guru, arguing that social movements are the only solution. Krishnan, on the other hand, believes that constitutional safeguards and protective legal clauses can play a great enabling role. But, more than any of this, a change of attitude is needed among the ruling classes to stem the tide. Perhaps the best solution was provided by B.R. Ambedkar in the Constituent Assembly. "We are entering an era of political equality. But economically and socially we remain a deeply unequal society. Unless we resolve this contradiction, inequality will destroy our democracy," he had warned. But nothing learnt; little progress made. The Dalit dilemma, ironically, is the dilemma of India. Some hard questions remain: How long must the discrimination continue? How many dreams must be shattered? How many flames of justice must be extinguished? How many Vaibhavs and Divyas must be burnt alive? How many Rohiths must die to change India, once and for all?

Amendments in and after 2016

More teeth added

Pradeep Thakur, Govt cites 2016 amendments, says it gave SC/ST Act more teeth, April 4, 2018: The Times of India

Under fire from the opposition and Dalit outfits, the government has cited the amendments it brought in 2016 to the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, pointing out that the number of offences which would attract stringent provisions of the Act had gone up to 47.

The changes in the law also emphasised on speedy justice to make it more effective, providing for completion of trial within two months from the date of filing of chargesheet by setting up special courts and a deadline for completing investigations.

Besides, the amendments incorporated new offences such as shaving of head or moustache, garlanding with footwear, denying access to irrigation or forest rights, disposing human or animal carcasses or digging graves, manual scavenging, forcing women members of the community as devdasis etc under the ambit of the Act.

The changed rules, effective from April 14, 2016, enhanced the relief amount to between Rs 85,000 and Rs 8,25,000, depending on the crime, to victims of atrocities. The interim compensation of 10% was to be given to the victim within seven days on the basis of a complaint “without waiting for the outcome of the preliminary enquiry”.

As per existing provisions, there is no need to wait for the outcome of a police inquiry, an FIR has to be registered under the SC/ST Act on filing of a complaint, like in any other offence of heinous crimes such as murder, at-“preventing SC/ST candidates from filing nomination to contest election, forcing a member to leave house, village or residence, defiling objects sacred to SCs/STs and touching or using words, acts or gestures of a sexual nature against members of the community”.

The amended Act provides for establishment of “exclusive special courts, specification of exclusive special public prosecutor to exclusively try offences under the Act for expeditious disposal of cases”.

It also gave power to special courts to take “direct cognisance” of offences and complete the trial in a time-bound manner. An additional chapter was added on the ‘Rights of Victims and Witnesses’.

The amended rules also provide for periodic review of the rights and entitlements of victims and witnesses in ‘accessing justice’. It lays down setting up of monitoring committees to be supervised by district and sub-divisional level authorities.

The government, in its review petition filed before the Supreme Court, said the SC/ ST Act was amended because “atrocities against Dalits and tribals continued despite the deterrent provisions in the 1989 Act”. The high incidence of offences against the community, it said, also indicated that the deterrent effect of the Act was not adequately felt by the accused.

The 2016 amendments also incorporated as offences

Non-invasive sexual harassment: medical examination

The Times of India, May 09 2016

No med test for SCST survivors of non-invasive sexual crimes

 The government has scrapped an over 20-yearold provision of conducting medical examination in cases of non-invasive sexual harassment like gestures or acts intended to outrage the modesty of women and stalking against SC and ST survivors to enable them get quicker relief.

The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Rules, 2016, notified recently, also has a provision of increased relief to survivors ranging from Rs 85,000 to Rs 8.25 lakh from the earlier Rs 75,000-7.5 lakh.

Earlier 50% of the amount was paid after medical exami nation and the remaining sum at the conclusion of the trial, according to a senior official from the ministry of social justice and empowerment. “The new Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act 2015 which came into force on January 26, included a series of new offences following which the rules had to be modified.Under the new rules, separate provision of relief for offences of rape and gang-rape were introduced,“ the official said.

“These offences fall under the category of invasive offences. Offences like assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty , use of criminal force to woman with intent to disrobe, sexual harassment, voyeurism, stalking -which fall under non-invasive category -have also been specifically mentioned.Now, in cases of non-invasive offences, we have done away with the medical examination part,“ the official added.

2016: Tougher measures against atrocities

The Times of India, Apr 24 2016

Stricter penalty for atrocities on SC|STs

A day ahead of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's programme at Jamshedpur to mark the end of a 10-day initiative to commemorate Babasaheb Ambedkar's 125th birth anniversary , the government announced new and tougher measures against atrocities targeting Dalits and tribals while also significantly increasing the compensation.

“The rules speed up process of dispensation of justice to victims of atrocities, are strongly sensitive in cases of offenses against women, and liberalise and expedite access to relief for SC and ST victims,“ an official note said.

The provisions announced include completion of investigation and filing of charge-sheet in the court within 60 days and specific relief measures for offences of rape and gang-rape that have been introduced for the first time.

The measures as well as the efforts to commemorate the Dalit icon are seen in the light of the flak BJP received in the wake the Rohith Vemula suicide in which party members and the saffron students' wing were accused of instigating action against the student.

The political battle over claiming Ambedkar's legacy has seen BJP and Congress engage in a war of words and the PM's decision to launch the campaign on April 14 as well as conclude it with the Panchayati Raj Day on April 24, when he is to address gram sabhas, is seen as part of a concerted effort to woo the electorally crucial Dalits.

The new rules delink the requirement of medical examination for receiving relief for non-invasive offences against women like sexual harassment, gestures or acts intended to “insult women, assault or use of criminal force with intent to disrobe, voyeurism and stalking“, the note said.

The specific reference to crimes like forcible disrobing is significant as tonsuring and parading the victims naked is a particular offence relating to atrocities against Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

The relief amount is being hiked from Rs 75,000-Rs 7,50,000 to Rs 85,000-Rs 8,25,000 and is being linked to the consumer price index for industrial workers for January , 2016.

Relief in cash or kind is to be made available within seven days of a crime and there will be regular reviews of schemes for the rights and entitlements of victims witnesses at state and district levels.

 HC allows appeals even after 180 days

Rajesh Kumar Pandey, HC nixes SC/ST Act amendment barring appeals after 180 days, October 11, 2018: The Times of India

A full bench of Allahabad high court held that a January 2016 amendment in the Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe (SC/ ST) Act that restrains high courts from entertaining an appeal against lower court’s orders after expiry of 180 days was ‘unconstitutional’.

The judgement has come as a big relief for all those who could not challenge a lower court’s order within 180 days as amendment to the Act had completely barred their right to challenge it after the expiry of this period.

While deciding the issue, a full bench comprising Chief Justice Dilip Babasaheb Bhosale, Justice Ramesh Sinha and Justice Yashwant Varma observed: “The direct and unhindered effect of taking away the statutory right of a first appeal, which has been recognised to be an integral facet of fair procedure enshrined in Article 21 of the Constitution, is unconstitutional.”

In addition to it, the full bench directed the state government to forthwith initiate the consultative process for setting up special courts in the state for speedy trial of cases involving atrocities against members of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and also ensure that special courts in this connection are constituted and designated within a period of eight weeks.

Furthermore, the full bench held that amendment in SC/ST Act is prospective in nature that it will be applicable in proceedings or judgments which were passed after the date of amendment, i.e., January 26, 2016 and not to old cases.

Conviction rate under the Atrocities’ Act

2015, 2016: Conviction rate was around 26%

Dhananjay Mahapatra, Senior advocate had tweeted accusing judges of caste bias, April 3, 2018: The Times of India

The Supreme Court’s March 20 decision to dilute the mandatory arrest provision in the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act was based on a measly 26% conviction rate in cases under the stringent law, but a senior advocate and former law officer had tweeted attributing upper caste bias to the judges on the bench.

A bench of Justices Adarsh K Goel and U U Lalit also took into account amicus curiae and senior advocate Amarendra Saran’s submissions. “The amicus submitted that several offences may solely depend upon the complainant’s version which may not be found to be true,” the bench recorded in its judgment. “One-sided version, before trial, cannot displace the presumption of innocence. Such version may at times be self-serving and for extraneous reason. Jeopardising liberty of a person on an untried unilateral version, without verification or tangible material, is against fundamental rights,” the amicus had said according to the judgment. The bench also recorded additional solicitor general Maninder Singh’s opposition, on the Centre’s behalf, to dilution of the Act’s provisions.

In 2016, over 6,200 complaints were found to be false; of the 15,638 cases decided by courts in 2015, 11,519 cases resulted in acquittal, discharge or withdrawal of complaint. Only 4,119 cases, or 26%, resulted in conviction. After analysing numerous judgments, the bench said arrest was seen as a tool for harassment.

Three days after the judgment, senior advocate and the first woman additional solicitor general Indira Jaising, who held the post during UPA-2, in a tweet cast “upper caste” bias on the SC judges while accusing them of diluting the Act to “protect Brahmins”. She also lamented the absence of “SC/ST judges” in the SC.

To a TOI query, Jaising said, “Kindly note this is not the first time this is happening. When it comes to women, the same bench in an identical judgment did give a very similar judgment and this reads like a cut-paste judgment. (The same bench had diluted arrest provision under IPC’s anti-dowry provision and a larger bench is reconsidering the judgment.) “Please remember, there too, there was no representation of women on the bench… The ‘noting about us without us’ is a very wellknown way of expressing the view that there should be participation of the affected communities …in which decisions are taken about them.

“This is not to do with anyone’s motive, least of all the judges, but an academic critique about the way in which the SC functions and its unrepresentative character. It is shocking Supreme Court has only one woman judge and no efforts are made to ensure proportionate representation of women on the bench. I’m sorry it comes across to you as an ‘aspersion’ on judges....”

Court judgements

Atrocities Act can’t be used just because ‘victim’ is SC/ST: HC

Nov 4, 2021: The Times of India

An offence under section 3 of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act cannot be invoked in a chargesheet merely because the alleged victim of the crime belongs to a Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe, the Karnataka high court has said in a recent order.

“It is not as though in every crime, if victim happens to be a member of the SC or ST, an offence under section 3 of the act has been committed. If the motive for crime is not casteist, the accused can only be chargesheeted for any of the offences under the Indian Penal Code,” Justice Sreenivas Harish Kumar has observed in his order. The act is meant to protect SCs or STs from atrocity or oppression, the judge said, and can’t be allowed to be misused. “Therefore, there is greater responsibility on the investigating officer to take a decision wisely before filing the chargesheet,” the order said while quashing proceedings initiated against a petitioner before a city special court.

In this case, the judge noted that no offence of atrocity appears to have taken place. The offences were under sections of IPC relating to avoidance of summons.

Civil dispute cannot be converted into a case under SC/ ST Act

Dhananjay Mahapatra, January 9, 2023: The Times of India

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has ruled that a member of the Scheduled Caste community cannot weaponise the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act by bringing under the purview of this stringent penal law a purely civil dispute between him and a member of the upper caste community.

P Bhaktavatchalam, who belongs to the SC community, had constructed a house on a vacant plot. Subsequently, a temple came to be constructed adjacent to his plot by members of the upper caste community. The temple patrons had filed a complaint alleging that Bhaktavatchalam’s house violated building norms and had put up unauthorised constructions in the ground and first floors.

As a counter, Bhaktavatchalam filed a complaint under the SC & ST Act alleging that the temple was being constructed encroaching upon the common pathway and over the sewage and water pipelines to harass him and deprive him of peaceful enjoyment of his property only because he belonged to the SC community.

A magisterial court at Egmore, Chennai, summoned the accused persons who allegedly were in breach of several provisions of SC & ST Act. On appeal against issuance of summons, the Madras HC refused to give relief to the accused.

A Supreme Court bench of Justices M R Shah and Krishna Murari allowed the appeal, quashed the summons issued to the accused persons and said that a purely civil dispute is being attempted to be converted into a case under the SC & ST Act, which is an abuse of the process of law.

Writing the judgment, Justice Shah said, “It seems that the private civil dispute between the parties is converted into criminal proceedings. Initiation of the criminal proceedings for the offences under Sections 3(1)(v) and (v)(a) of the SC & ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. Therefore, this is nothing but an abuse of process of law and court.”

“From the material on record, we are satisfied that no case for the offences under the SC and the ST Act is made out, even prima facie. None of the ingredients of Sections 3(1)(v) and (v)(a) of the Act are made out. Therefore, we are of the firm view that in the facts and circumstances of the case, the HC ought to have quashed the criminal proceedings in exercise of powers under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure,” he said.

“The order passed by HC, is unsustainable and the same deserves to be quashed and set aside and criminal proceedings initiated against appellants deserves to be quashed and set aside,” the bench said.

Compromise can quash case

Dhananjay Mahapatra, Nov 4, 2021: The Times of India

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court has said oppression of SCs and STs by upper castes is a “depressing reality” but ruled that if a fair compromise is reached between the victim and the accused prior to conviction under the SC-ST Act attaining finality, the constitutional courts have inherent powers to quash the case, reports Dhananjay Mahapatra.

A bench of CJI N V Ramana and Justices Surya Kant and Hima Kohli annulled a 1994 conviction under SC-ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act on the basis of a compromise reached between the convict and the complainant.

Norms issued on dealing with SC/ST Act cases

The SC said, “The act is a recognition of the depressing reality that despite undertaking several measures, the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes continue to be subjected to various atrocities at the hands of upper castes.”

Providing guidelines to all courts on adjudicating cases under the SC/ST Act, the bench said, “Ordinarily, when dealing with offences arising out of special statutes such as the SC/ST Act, the court will be extremely circumspect in its approach.”

The CJI-led bench said, “Where it appears to the court that the offence, although covered under the SC/ST Act, is primarily private or civil in nature, or where the alleged offence has not been committed on account of the caste of the victim, or where the continuation of the legal proceedings would be an abuse of the process of law, the court can exercise its powers to quash the proceedings.”

Foul language

AmitAnand Choudhary, May 20, 2023: The Times of India

New Delhi : The Supreme Court held that using foul or abusive language against a member of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes would not be sufficient in itself to slap a case against a person under SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and remarks have to be casteist in nature to prosecute a person under the law.

A bench of Justices S Ravindra Bhat and Dipankar Datta said th at in order to slap penal provision of section 3(1)(x) of the SC/ST Act, it has to be proved that such remarks are made intentionally in a public place and the utterance should be laced with casteist remarks. “The legislative intent seems to be clear that every insult or intimidation for humiliation to a person would not amount to an offence under section 3(1) (x) of the S C/ST Act unless, of course, such insult or intimidation is targeted a t the victim because of he being a member of a particular Scheduled Caste or Tribe. If one calls another an idiot (bewaqoof) or a fool (mur kh) or a thief (chor) in any place within public view, this would obviously constitute an actintended to insult or humiliate by user of a busive or offensive language. Even if the same be directed gen erally to a person, who happens to be a Scheduled Caste or Tribe, per se, it may not be sufficient to attract section 3(1)(x) unless such words are laced with casteist remarks,” the be nch said. The bench said it is desirable that before an accused is subjected to a trial for alleged commission of offence under section 3(1)(x), the utterances made by him in any place within p ublic view are outlined, if not in the FIR, but at least in the chargesheet so as to enable the court to ascertain whether the chargesheet makes out a case of an offence under the SC/ST Act.

The court quashed the c ase lodged against the person under the Act, saying that neither the FIR nor the chargesheet in the case made any reference to the utterances of the accused during the course of verbal altercation or to the caste to which the complainant belonged. The court also noted that the alleged abusive utterances were made in the presence of the complainant and his wife and his son and there was no other person present so it cannot be said to be in public view as no member of thepublic was present there.

Naming cast alone is not an offence/ HC

Vasanth Kumar, January 29, 2023: The Times of India

Bengaluru : Merely taking the name of the caste of the victim would not make it an offence under the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, unless it is with an intention to insult the person belonging to that caste, the Karnataka high court observed recently.

Quashing proceedings against an accused in so far as it relates to provisions of the Atrocities Act, the HC also pointed out that under Rule 7, the probe has to be conducted by a police officer not below the rank of deputy SP and it has been violated in this case as it was done by a police sub-inspector. 
Partly allowing a petition filed by V Shailesh Kumar, a resident of Bandesandra village, Bengaluru rural district, Justice M Nagaprasanna said the petitioner has to face trial in so far as offences under IPC like assault, criminal intimidation, etc. The case is about an altercation between two teams after a cricket match. On June 14, 2020, Jayamma of Iggaluru village registered a complaint. She alleged her son Manoj and his friend Pradeep were eating near a shop and around 4. 30pm, Shylesh Kumar with 30 people came there on two-wheelers and a car and hurled abuses against Manoj. Another person attacked them with weapons and beer bottles causing injuries and also assaulted them after taking them in the car.

Police investigated the matter and filed a chargesheet, invoking both Atrocities Act and IPC provisions. On March 1, 2021, the special judge ordered registration of a special case under theAtrocities Act. It was challenged by Shylesh, who claimed there was no intention, even if it is accepted that abuses were hurled taking the caste name.

The judge noted that in the case on hand, the said aspect (intention to insult) being conspicuously absent, permitting further proceedings to continue about offences under the Atrocities Act would become an abuse of process of law.

“Section 3(1)(r) (of Atrocities Act) mandates that whoever intentionally insults or intimidates with intent to humiliate a member of aScheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe in any place within public view. Section 3(1)(s) would mandate that if any person is seen to have abusedthe Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe by caste name in any place within public view. Therefore, the soul of the provision is intention. The insult should be intentional and the intimidation should be with intent to humiliate a member of the Scheduled Caste or Scheduled Tribe” Justice Nagaprasanna pointed out in his order.

The judge added that neither the chargesheet nor statements narrate any other circumstance except saying that the name of the caste of the complainant’s son was also used when abuses were hurled. “There is no narration of any intention to insult or humiliate taking the name of the caste, either in the statements or in the summary of the chargesheet” the judge said. 
He added, “It is an admitted fact that the investigation, in the case at hand, is conducted by police sub-inspector and the chargesheet is filed by police sub-inspector. Therefore, there is violation of Rule 7. . . ”


If father not SC/ ST, eligibility not automatic

Vasantha Kumar, June 6, 2022: The Times of India

Bengaluru : If a complainant’s mother belongs to a scheduled caste or tribe and father belongs to a forward caste, there has to be specific pleading that the complainant suffered the same disabilities that persisted with their mother, in order to maintain a complaint under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, the Dharwad bench of the Karnataka HC said.

This means children of SC/ ST mothers can’t naturally invoke the atrocities law, but must convince the court they were specifically targeted because of their mother’s caste.

Persons on SC/ ST list in one state protected in all: HC

Swati Deshpande, Sep 2, 2023: The Times of India

Mumbai : The Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act would cover crimes committed in states on persons who are not notified as members of the community there, the Bombay high court held. The scope of the Act cannot be restricted to a person belonging to an SC/ST to the state or Union territory in which he is declared, but he is also entitled to protection in any other part of the country where an offence is committed, though he is not recognised to be from the reserved category in that part, held a full bench of of Justices Revati Mohite Dere, Bharati Dangre and N J Jamadar.
The full HC bench was tasked with interpreting the law and clarifying whether an offence under the Atrocities Act would still be one if committed on a person in a state where such a person does not belong to any caste or tribe. Castes and tribes are notified under each state and a person may belong to a caste notified in one state which is not notified in other parts of the country.

“By restricting the identity of an SC/ST, only in relation to the state of his origin, would even defeat their fundamental right under Article 19 (1)(d) (to move freely throughout the country) and (e) (reside and resettle in any part of the country) of the Constitution, as it would indirectly require them to be bound to their state of origin, with no chance of taking steps to progress themselves by stepping outside... This would cause more harm to the identified class than advancing them to compete with members of the higher class and assisting them in achieving equality, as enshrined in the Constitution,’’ said the three-judge-bench.

The geographical limitation imposed on the castes or tribes is confined to the privileges the Act confers for reservation in employment or education as an affirmative action intended for the upliftment of these classes, but the bar of territorial arena cannot be applied for protecting their very existence and identity, said the HC.

Misuse of SC/ST Act

Enmity, history of, to be checked to curb misuse: HC

Dec 16, 2022: The Times of India

Kochi : Courts considering anticipatory bail pleas in SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act cases should see if there is previous enmity between the accused and the complainant to rule out false implications, the Kerala HC has said in a judgment.

The HC’s decision assumes significance as grant of anticipatory bail is barred to a person accused of an offence under sections 18 and 18A of the Act if there is a prima facie case. Justice A Badharudeen said in his December 9 order that the provisions of the Act are stringent and should be so applied in genuine cases.

“Courts should have a duty to rule out the possibilities of false implication of innocent persons as accused, with a view to achieve ulterior motives of the complainants, with threat of arrest and detention of the accused in custody, because of the stringent provisions in the SC/ST (POA) Act in granting of anticipatory bail,” Justice Badharudeen said.

The HC held that “it is shocking, rather a mindblowing fact, that many innocent persons are victims of false implication under the Act” and there was a need to segregate the grain from the chaff” when considering pre-arrest bail. If the possibility of false implication is detected on evaluating the genesis of the case, the court can hold that prima facie the prosecution’s allegations could not be believed for thepurpose of granting anticipatory bail and leave question of offences alleged for a fair investigation, the HC said.

Trial court annoyed at misuse

From the archives of The Times of India 2010

Misuse of SC/ST Act annoys court


New Delhi: Expressing concern over rising incidents of the misuse of SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act to settle personal scores, a trial court has told police the final report in such cases should be examined at a higher level before they are filed. The court’s observations came while discharging nine members of a family, including five women, from charges under the Act for allegedly using abusive words against their tenants, who belonged to the SC category.

‘‘Unfortunately, one comes across growing instances where the provisions of this Act have not so much been invoked for the betterment of those whom it seeks to protect than by those who want to settle personal scores by giving to an otherwise ordinary dispute the colour of an alleged atrocity under the Act,’’ additional sessions judge Kamini Lau said. The court observed that the provisions of the Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, meant to protect the lot of the exploited sections, should not be allowed to be misused.

In this case, the court noted that complainant Kanaklata (30), a postgraduate in philosophy from Delhi University, had changed her statement before the police on May 4, 2008 and invoked the provisions of the SC/ST Act against the family members of her landlord after talking to her lawyer. ‘‘I find that the present case is a glaring example of abuse of a special legislation with stringent provisions which has been enacted to ameliorate the lot of the hitherto, underprivileged, deprived and marginalized section of the society,’’ ASJ Lau said.

The court said Kanaklata had spared no one as she had in her improved version of the complaint roped in the entire family of Om Prakash Grover, a senior citizen. She further implicated the brother of the landlord Ved Prakash, his wife and his daughterin-law who did not even reside in the same house and are residents of another property in Mukherjee Nagar, it added.

The court also pulled up the police for failing to properly conduct the probe. ‘‘Though the investigations have been conducted by an assistant commissioner of police, it is rather unfortunate that he allowed himself to play into the hands of the complainant rather than independently examine the material before him in an unbiased manner and strictly enforce the provisions of law,’’ it said. The court recommended that before any final report in the case of SC/ST Act was filed, it is monitored and examined at a higher level.

Mayawati govt issued two orders saying Act being misused

Pervez IqbalSiddiqui, Maya govt issued two orders saying Act being misused, April 4, 2018: The Times of India

BSP supremo Mayawati may have supported the Dalit protests against the Supreme Court order related to dilution of provisions of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, but during her regime as UP chief minister, her government had issued at least two similar orders highlighting that the Act was being misused to implicate innocents. The two orders issued by the then chief secretaries specified that action should not be initiated merely on the basis of complaint but arrests should be done after the accused is found prima facie guilty in the initial probe.

In the first letter, dated May 20, 2007, and sent by the then chief secretary Shambhu Nath, point number 18 dealt at length with the issue of police complaints under the Act. The missive was issued barely a week after Mayawati was sworn in as UP CM. The highlight of the directive was that only serious offences like murder and rape should be registered under the Act while the less serious offences related to Schedule Castes and Tribes should be done away with under relevant sections of the IPC.

In case of a rape complaint under the SC/ ST Act, action should be initiated against the accused only after sexual assault is corroborated in the medical examination of the victim and prima facie the charges appear to be true, it said. The note, a copy of which is available with TOI, states that police should not initiate action merely because a complaint has been lodged by a person from the SC and ST as there have been instances where people use such individuals as a cover to settle scores with rivals.

The missive was followed by another letter six months later (dated October 29, 2007) issued by the then chief secretary Prashant Kumar to the DGP as an amendment to the May 20 missive and addressed to all senior officers on field duty. It was stated that in case it is found that the complainant has falsely implicated an innocent under the provisions of the SC/ST Act, the complainant must be booked under Section 182.

Repeated attempts to contact BSP spokesperson and leaders for their reaction on this issue proved futile.

‘SC/ST law not misused in every case’: HC

Shibu Thomas, SC/ST law not misused in every case: HC, March 30, 2018: The Times of India

The Bombay high court has said it cannot be presumed that the anti-atrocities law meant to protect Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes is misused in each and every case. The HC order came days after the Supreme Court said that the law was being misused to “blackmail and wreak vengeance” on innocent citizens.

“We cannot proceed on the footing that the law is abused in every case,” said a division bench of Justices Satyaranjan Dharmadhikari and Prakash Naik recently. “The law is found to be constitutional and valid. The prohibition against grant of anticipatory bail is equally legal and valid.”

The bench was hearing a petition filed by Solapur resident Akash Kadave, who was slapped with charges under the stringent Schedule Caste and Schedule Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act following a road rage incident. The fight happened after the complainant’s motorbike hit Kadave. Both Kadave and the other person had filed cross complaints. The allegation against Kadave was that he had assaulted and abused the complainant, who belonged to the Hindu Mahar community, in the name of his caste. Kadave’s plea for pre-arrest bail was rejected by the sessions court, which had cited Section 18 of the anti-atrocities law that prohibits grant of anticipatory bail to an accused booked under the Act.

Kadave’s lawyers cited the SC’s March 20, 2018 judgment which said the special law was being used to settle scores. The SC had laid down guidelines directing that public servants could be arrested only with the written permission of their appointing authority, while for private individuals approval of the senior superintendent of police was necessary.

“We see no merit in the appeal nor in the argument and the attempt made before us by relying on the judgment of the SC. That judgment delivered is essentially determining the controversy as to whether the whole enactment can be used to settle scores against superiors in public service or working privately,” said the HC division bench.

2018/ SC: ‘Should false complaints be punishable?’ Govt: ‘No plan to do so’

Dhananjay Mahapatra, False cases: Govt says won’t tweak SC/ST Act, February 14, 2018: The Times of India

Violent incidents occurred on April 2, 2018 against the SC judgement
From: April 3, 2018: The Times of India

‘Won’t Amend Law To Punish False Petitioners’

With many cases coming to light of people being falsely implicated under the stringent ‘no bail’ Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, the Supreme Court had asked the Centre whether false complaints under this law should be a punishable offence.

The Centre, through additional solicitor general Maninder Singh, informed a bench of Justices Adarsh Goel and U U Lalit last week that the government had no intention of amending the law, enacted in 1989, to incorporate punishment for false complaints.

“Object of the Act is to prevent commission of offences of atrocities against members of SCs and STs and it would not be in consonance with the intent of the Act to provide for punishment for members of SCs and STs for falsely implicating a person,” Singh said.

This means someone from the SC/ST community can get away with a false complaint against a person even if a court of law finds the complaint to be frivolous. The only relief for government servants facing complaints under the SC/ST law, the Centre said, was under the IPC, which could be invoked by higher authorities to deny sanction for prosecution of an accused if they thought the complaint was utterly false.

Singh said, “The Centre remains fully committed to ensure proper, meaningful and effective implementation of the 1989 Act along with its amendment carried out in 2015 and is also duty bound to take all necessary steps from time to time.” After hearing him, the bench reserved it order.

However, the statistics placed on record by the Centre told an abysmal rate of conviction on complaints filed under the Act. In 2015, as many as 15-16% of cases were closed by police without prosecution. Moreover, of the cases that resulted in filing of chargesheet, the trial court either acquitted the accused or closed the case after compounding the offence.

This means SCs & STs who file a false complaint can get away even if a court of law finds the complaint to be frivolous

Slur made over phone not an offence: HC

Ajay Sura, May 31, 2020: The Times of India

The Punjab and Haryana high court has made it clear that casteist remarks made over mobile phone against a member of the Scheduled Caste community does not constitute any offence under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989.

The high court was of the view that uttering of wrong words over phone and in absence of any public view “does not show any intention or mens rea to humiliate the complainant”. Justice Harnaresh Singh Gill of the HC passed this order on Friday while setting aside an FIR, chargesheet and framing of charges against two persons from Kurukshetra in Haryana. The duo had allegedly used abusive language against the sarpanch of their village over mobile phone.

“Moreover, basic ingredients of the offence in the FIR are that there must be intentional insult, secondly the insult must be done in a public place within public view, which is not so in the present case. Thus, the essential ingredients which must be fulfilled, are not found in the present case. Since these are the penal provisions, the same are to be given a strict construction and if any of the ingredients are found lacking, it would not constitute the offence under the SC/ST Act,” observed Justice Gill while exonerating the petitioners.

The judge also clarified that if two views are possible and one gives rise to suspicion only as distinguished from grave suspicion, the trial judge will be empowered to discharge the accused and at that stage, it is not to be seen whether the trial will end in conviction or acquittal.

Karnataka HC on misuse: 2023

August 7, 2023: The Times of India

Bengaluru: False cases filed under the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, are clogging the criminal justice system and consuming precious time in various courts of law, the Karnataka high court said recently while quashing proceedings under the legislation against two brothers in a civil dispute, reports Vasantha Kumar.

Terming such cases “an abuse of the process of law”, the court said these “are required to be nipped, failing which they might burden the criminal justice system, besides becoming a harassment to the petitioners and resulting in miscarriage of justice”.

Petitioners Purushotham and Rasik Lal Patel had chal- lenged proceedings initiated against them on the basis of a complaint lodged by a neighbour in Bengaluru’s Ramamurthy Nagar police station. Besides charges under sections of the Indian Penal Code, the siblings had Section 3(2)(va) of the SC and ST legislation slapped on them.

Classic case of SC/ST Act misuse: HC

Justice M Nagaprasanna said the case was a classic illustration of misuse of the provisions of the legislation meant to prevent atrocities on SC and ST people. He said it would be a travesty for courts to sift through a mountain of false litigations while “genuine cases where litigants have actually suffered would be waiting in the pipeline”.

Procedures under SC/ST Act

SC: No automatic arrest

AmitAnand Choudhary, No automatic arrest under SC/ST Act, says SC, allows bail, March 21, 2018: The Times of India

Expressing concern over rampant misuse of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, the Supreme Court introduced the provision of anticipatory bail on Tuesday while also directing that there would be no automatic arrest on any complaint filed under the law and a preliminary inquiry must be conducted by police within seven days before taking any action.

A bench of Justices A K Goel and U U Lalit introduced the provision of anticipatory bail despite Section 18 of the act denying prearrest bail. Such a protective provision was required to safeguard the interest and dignity of innocents and prevent the misuse of the act as an instrument to blackmail or wreak personal vengeance, the bench said.

Can’t remain a bystander or a spectator if rights violated: SC

It further said working of the SC/ST Act “should not result in perpetuating casteism which can have an adverse impact on the integration of society and constitutional values”. “In view of the acknowledged abuse of law of arrest in cases under the Act, arrest of a public servant can only be after approval of the appointing authority and of a non-public servant after approval by the SSP, which may be granted in appropriate cases if considered necessary for reasons recorded. Such reasons must be scrutinised by the magistrate for permitting further detention. To avoid false implication of an innocent, a preliminary inquiry may be conducted by the DSP concerned to find out whether the allegations make out a case under the act and that the allegations are not frivolous or motivated,” the bench said.

It added that the judiciary could not remain a mute spectator when the law was being misused to frame innocents in criminal cases and the court had to intervene for the protection of people’s liberty as presumption of innocence was a human right. It noted that the law was framed by Parliament for the protection of historically underprivileged sections of society but now it was being misused.

“This court is not expected to adopt a passive or negative role and remain a bystander or a spectator if violation of rights is observed. It is necessary to fashion new tools and strategies so as to check injustice and violation of fundamental rights. No procedural technicality can stand in the way of enforcement of fundamental rights. There are innumerable decisions of this court where this approach has been adopted and directions issued with a view to enforce fundamental rights which may sometimes be perceived as legislative in nature. Such directions can certainly be issued and continued till an appropriate legislation is enacted,” the bench said.

‘SC/ST Atrocities Act mustn’t spread hatred’

AmitAnand Choudhary, Steps Should Be Taken To Make Society Caste-Less: SC, March 21, 2018: The Times of India

‘SC/ST Atrocities Act mustn’t spread hatred’

Holding that caste poses a serious threat to unity and integrity of the country, the Supreme Court on Tuesday said steps should be taken to achieve the constitutional goal of a ‘casteless’ society and prevent misuse of law resulting in spreading hatred on caste lines.

A bench of Justices A K Goel and U U Lalit said any law should not result in caste hatred and expressed its anxiety over misuse of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, resulting in filing of false cases and stoking caste conflict.

“The under-privileged need to be protected against any atrocities to give effect to the constitutional ideals. The Atrocities Act has been enacted with this objective. At the same time, the said Act cannot be converted into a charter for exploitation or oppression by any unscrupulous person or by police for extraneous reasons against other citizens as has been found on several occasions. Any harassment of an innocent citizen, irrespective of caste or religion, is against the guarantee of the Constitution. This court must enforce such a guarantee. Law should not result in caste hatred,” the bench said.

“In the light of submissions made, it is necessary to express concern that working of the Atrocities Act should not result in perpetuating casteism which can have an adverse impact on integration of the society and the constitutional values. Such concern has also been expressed by this court on several occasions. Secularism is a basic feature of the Constitution. Irrespective of caste or religion, the Constitution guarantees equality in its preamble as well as other provisions including Articles 14-16. The Constitution envisages a cohesive, unified and casteless society,” the bench said.

Referring to the data submitted by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) highlighting misuse of the law, the court said in almost 15-16% of the total complaints filed in 2015 under the Act were false and out of the cases disposed of by the courts, 75% cases resulted in acquittal/ withdrawal in 2015.

Admitting misuse of the law, additional solicitor general Maninder Singh, appearing for the Centre, said the issue was also examined by Parliament for making provision of punishment for false complaints but the government took a stand that awarding punishment to members of SCs and STs for false implication would be against the spirit of the Act. He also contended that the court should refrain from issuing guidelines to prevent misuse of the law and it was for the legislature to take a call.

The court, however, turned down the Centre’s submission and said, “We are thus of the view that interpretation of the Atrocities Act should promote constitutional values of fraternity and integration of the society. This may require check on false implications of innocent citizens on caste lines.”

“We have already noted the working of the Act in the last three decades. It has been judicially acknowledged that there are instances of abuse of the Act by vested interests against political opponents in Panchayat, municipal or other elections, to settle private civil disputes arising out of property, monetary disputes, employment disputes and seniority disputes,” it said.

SC: Act Has Not Been Diluted In Any Way

Dhananjay Mahapatra & Amit Anand Choudhary, SC refuses to stay SC/ST order, says innocent must be protected, April 4, 2018: The Times of India

Act Has Not Been Diluted In Any Way, Says Court

Terming protests against its judgment on the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act as “ill-informed” or “misled”, the Supreme Court refused on Tuesday to suspend operation of the verdict and clarified that it had not diluted a single provision of the legislation.

“The judgment is not in conflict with the SC/ST Act. It does not dilute the law in any way. We only flagged one issue — can the liberty of an innocent be taken away without application of mind? We only said protect an innocent from being falsely implicated under the Act, which has stringent provisions. People agitating may not have read the judgment. They may have been misled,” a bench of Justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and Uday Umesh Lalit said.

The bench clarified that its judgment applied only to cases registered under the SC/ ST Act and if any offence committed under the Act also involved transgressions under the Indian Penal Code, like disrobing, tonsuring, physical violence or arson, then there was no bar on immediate registration of an FIR.

The court was hearing a plea by the Centre seeking an interim stay on the SC’s March 20 order.

SC agrees to hear review plea in detail in 10 days

The court was hearing a plea by the Centre seeking an interim stay on the SC’s March 20 order, in the wake of violence in several states that accompanied Dalit protests against the apex court decision doing away with mandatory arrest for an offence under the SC/ST Act. The Centre cited loss of lives during protests on Monday, but the SC refused to consider the request.

“We have not restrained registration of FIR but an innocent cannot be thrown behind bars just because a complaint has been made. We said examine its veracity within seven days. Verification can be done within hours.

“If the complaint is genuine, arrest the accused. We have not stopped operation of any of the provisions of the SC/ST Act. We agree that the rights of SCs and STs must be given higher protection. At the same time, the liberty of an innocent too needs protection against frivolous complaints. No complainant can be prosecutor and judge,” it said after taking up the Centre’s review petition for hearing in open court at a threehour notice. Around 99% of review petitions are heard in chamber.

“It agreed to hear the review petition in detail in 10 days and asked the Centre, the Maharashtra gvernment and other interveners to file written submissions stating why the judgment required reconsideration.

Amicus curiae and senior advocate Amarendra Saran said it was a welcome judgment which protected innocents from frivolous complaints without diluting the rigour of the SC/ST Act.

2019/ SC refuses to stay amendments to SC/ST Act

January 25, 2019: The Times of India

The Supreme Court refused to stay amendments to the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act brought by Parliament to overturn the court’s verdict by which automatic arrest of an accused was barred without holding a preliminary inquiry and the provision of anticipatory bail was introduced.

A bench of Justices A K Sikri, S Abdul Nazeer and M R Shah said the Centre’s review petition against the apex court verdict was still pending and it should be heard along with other petitions challenging the constitutional validity of the amendments. The petitioners urged the bench to stay operation of the amendments to protect innocent people being harassed under the Act but the court turned down their plea.

SC stepped in last year over misuse of Act

Since outcome of the said review petition will have some bearing on these petitions, it will be appropriate if these petitions are also heard along with the review petition. For this purpose, we permit the counsel for the parties to mention the matter before the CJI for fixing the date for hearing of the matters,” the bench said.

The amendments, approved by Parliament on August 9 last year and notified by the government, ruled out anticipatory bail for anyone accused of atrocities against SCs/STs. The legislation also provided that no preliminary inquiry would be required for registering a criminal case and an arrest under this law would not be subject to any approval. The Centre brought the amendments in view of nationwide protests against the order which had ruled that there would be no automatic arrest on a complaint filed under the Act and preliminary inquiry should be conducted within seven days by police before taking any action.

A month after Parliament approved amendments to the Act, a batch of petitions questioned their validity and the SC issued notice to the Centre seeking its response in September.

Expressing concern over rampant misuse of the Act, the SC had in March last year stepped in to provide safeguards to innocent people and directed that there would be no automatic arrest on a complaint filed under the Act without holding a preliminary enquiry . But the Centre amended the law to nullify the verdict which has now been challenged.

Countering the SC’s view that the Act was being misused, the Centre in its affidavit said discrimination against SCs/ STs continued to be “pervasive” and justified its decision to overturn the court’s verdict.

2019, Oct: SC reverses dilution of SC/ST Act

AmitAnand Choudhary , Oct 2, 2019: The Times of India

SC reverses dilution of SC/ST Act, restores original sections

One-and-a-half years after its verdict doing away with automatic arrest provision in the law to prevent atrocities against Dalits and tribals, the Supreme Court on Tuesday restored the original dispensation, saying its previous order had strayed into legislative domain.

The dilution of the stringent provisions of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act had sparked protests by Dalits across the country. A vote in Parliament undoing the ruling triggered an upper caste backlash against BJP governments in polls in end-2018 and saw the Centre legislating a quota for economically weaker sections (read upper castes). A two-judge bench, comprising Justices A K Goyal (now retired) and U U Lalit, had in March last year directed that police had to conduct a preliminary enquiry in seven days before taking any action on a complaint and also introduced provision of anticipatory bail, overriding the section that says pre-arrest bail does not apply for offences under the Act. It had said such provision was required to safeguard the interests of the innocent and to prevent misuse of the Act.

All humans are equal, even in their failings: SC

Opposition parties had swiftly pinned the verdict on BJP accusing the ruling party of being anti-Dalit even as the government rushed to the SC seeking review of its ruling. Soon, it amended the law to nullify the SC verdict thus ensuring that the ruling was virtually never enforced.

However, the response of the political class was strikingly subdued as a three-judge bench of Justices Arun Mishra, M R Shah and B R Gavai admitted that the court wrongly ventured into the domain of legislature by framing guidelines, and rejected the fear of misuse that the apex court had earlier cited to insert safeguards.

It said all humans are equal, including in their failings, and it would be against fundamental human equality to treat SCs and STs as persons who are particularly prone to lodge false reports for revenge or benefits. It said making such a presumption would be “adding insult to injury” to those who have suffered discrimination from ages. “As a matter of fact, members of SCs and STs have suffered for long, hence, if we cannot provide them protective discrimination beneficial to them, we cannot place them at all at a disadvantageous position that may be causing injury to them by widening inequality and against the very spirit of our Constitution,” the court said.

HC: For case to come under the Act, offence must be in public

Rajesh Kumar Pandey, HC: For case under SC/ST Act, offence must be in public, February 25, 2020: The Times of India

The Allahabad high court set aside an order of summoning under the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, saying that for constituting an offence under this Act, the offence must have been committed in public view.

If the offence has allegedly been committed behind closed doors — where no witness is present — the SC/ST Act cannot be applied, said Justice R K Gautam while quoting a Supreme Court ruling and disposing a petition filed by a Sonbhadra residence against the order of Duddhi judicial magistrate in Sonbhadra.

Petitioner K P Thakur was a probe officer in a departmental inquiry against one Vinod Kumar Tanay. According to the petition, Thakur had called Tanay to his chamber for recording of evidence on the day of incidence. The latter had brought a colleague, M P Tiwari, along with him. Thakur asked Tiwari to go out of his chamber as it would have hindered the process of recording, the petition says.

Following this, Tanay moved a petition before the judicial magistrate against Thakur under SC/ST Act and other sections of Indian Penal Code. After the court summoned Thakur, he challenged the order in HC.

While partly allowing the petition filed by Thakur, the court observed: “The door was locked form inside. It was a chamber of the enquiry officer (Thakur), where presenting officer (Tanay) and enquiry officer were present and it can never be said to be a public view. Even if any occurrence took place at that place, it may never be said to be a public view and it has been verified by the apex court. Hence, the very ingredient of offence punishable under Section 3(1)(X) of the SC/ST Act was missing”.

The court quashed the summoning for offence punishable under the SC/ST Act. However, the judge made it clear that for rest of the offences, no relief was given to the petitioner. The case was sent back to the judicial magistrate to be tried under IPC Sections 323 (simple hurt) and 506 (criminal intimidation).

Types of punishable offences

Abusive language

Act cannot be invoked for verbal altercation: SC

Amit Anand Choudhary, SC makes an exception in applying SC/ST Act, November 6, 2020: The Times of India

New Delhi:

The Supreme Court said the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act cannot be invoked against a person if he uses abusive language during verbal altercation with any member of these communities over a property dispute, reports Amit Anand Choudhary.

A bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao, Hemant Gupta and Ajay Rastogi said all insults or intimidation to a person will not be an offence under the Act unless such insult or intimidation is on account of the victim belonging to SC/ ST . It said the basic ingredient for the offence under Section 3(1)(r) of the Act is intentional insult and intimidation with an intent to humiliate a member of the SC/ST community.

The bench quashed the charges against a person under Section 3(1)(r) of the Act, noting that the parties were fighting legal battle in court over possession of land and the alleged abusive language was not used because his opponent was a member of the Scheduled Caste. It, however, said proceedings will go on against the person under the IPC.

Social media slurs on SC|ST punishable: HC

Abhinav Garg|Social media slurs on SC|ST punishable: HC|Jul 04 2017 : The Times of India (Delhi)

Any offensive post on social media targeting an individual of the SC ST community , even if made in a closed group, is punishable, the Delhi high court said Monday . In a key ruling that plugs the gap between online abusers and their prosecution, the HC made it clear that Scheduled Castes & Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, will apply if a casteist slur is made against a person from these communities. Though the judgment came in reference to a Facebook “Wall“, the ruling can extend to other social media outlets such as WhatsApp. “When a member registered with Facebook changes the privacy settings to `public' from `private', it makes hisher writings on the `wall' accessible not only to other members who are befriended by the author, but also by any other member registered with Facebook. However, even if privacy set tings are retained by a Face book member as “private“, making of an offending post by the member ­ which falls foul of Section under Section 3(1)(x) of the SCST Act -may still be punishable,“ Justice Vipin Sanghi noted.

The HC clarified that only exception from prosecution in these cases would be if the complainant and those connected to himher on Facebook are related to each other. Justice Sanghi pointed out that “public view“ means “a place where public per sons are present ­ howsoever small in number they may be.“

The court also brought out the finer legal nuance and added “it would make no difference whether the privacy settings are set by the author of the offending post to “private“ or “public“ as sections of SCST Act do not require that the intentional insult or intimidation with intention to humiliate a member of the SC or ST should take place in the presence of the said member. “ The court's interpretation came while hearing a complaint by an SC woman against her cosister, a Rajput. The complainant said her co-sister was “abusing my caste on social network sites Facebook“ and that she used bad words for Dhobi's“.

In her defence, the Rajput woman maintained that her FB posts, even if assumed to be true, have been posted on her wall and do not disclose intentional insult against any individual. The accused also argued that in her posts she never took the name of her cosister who has no basis to be offended since the posts were directed against the females of the `Dhobi' community in general, and not against any specific individual.Lastly, she also defended her ac tion by arguing that her Facebook wall is a private space and no one has a right to barge into it by stealth only to feel offended.

Appearing for the prosecution, additional standing counsel Nandita Rao, told the court that offence under the SCST Act is made out, as the Rajput woman had knowingly posted on FB to insult her Dalit co-sister. Justice Sanghi granted relief and quashed the FIR by agreeing that generalised statements against all and sundry , and not against specific individual belonging to the scheduled caste or scheduled tribe,would not make out an offence.

Caste slurs an offence only if made in public: HC

Shibu Thomas, Caste slurs an offence only if made in public, says HC, March 31, 2018: The Times of India

Rejects Prosecution’s Argument That There Were 2 Witnesses

Casteist slurs have to be made in a public place for it to be an offence under the Atrocities Act, the Bombay high court said in an important ruling recently. In a repreive to government servant Sunil Madane, a Satara resident, a division bench of Justices Satyaranjan Dharmadhikari and Prakash Naik granted him interim protection from arrest.

“Prima facie, on a reading of the complaint, the abuses which have been hurled at the complainant by the accused are not within public view,” said the judges. The court pointed out that provisions of the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act requires that for an offence to be made out, the intentional insult or intimidation with intent to humiliate a member of a scheduled caste or a scheduled tribe should be in a place within public view.

“It is the place which is prima face required to be within public view,” said the bench, adding, “(the arguments of the prosecution) that there are two eyewitnesses who have witnessed this incident prima facie would not suffice.” The court said that if Madane is arrested, he should be released on a Rs 50,000 bail and one or two sureties.

Section 18 of the antiatrocities law prohibits grant of anticipatory bail to an accused who has been booked under the Act. The only exceptions are if prima facie no case is made out or if the court comes to the conclusion that the allegations are mala fide.

The case against Madane was filed by his neighbour with whom he has had a prior dispute. According to the first information report filed in the Phaltan city police station, Madane had allegedly accosted the woman and threatened her to withdraw the case that she had registered against him. He had then allegedly abused the woman, who belongs to the Hindu Mahar community, in the name of her caste.

Madane claimed that he was falsely implicated in the case and, if arrested, he might lose his job. The prosecution opposed the plea and contended that the accused had abused the woman in a filthy language and had made disparaging remarks in the name of her caste. The prosecution said that they needed to interrogate the accused in custody and recover the car used in the crime. Earlier this year, a sessions court had rejected Madane’s plea for pre-arrest bail. The sessions court had said that the accused had abused the complainant in the presence of two persons and therefore it meant that he had abused her in public view.

Section 18 of the anti-atrocities law prohibits grant of anticipatory bail to an accused who has been booked under the Act.

Karnataka HC/ 2022

June 25, 2022: The Times of India

Bengaluru: To constitute an offence under the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, the hurling of a casteist slur must be in a public place or place of public view, the Karnataka high court has ruled, quashing a case against a man who made such remarks in a basement of a building. 
The case dates to October 2020 when the complainant, Mohan, was working in the basement of a newly constructed building in Yelmudi village in Dakshina Kannada district. Mohan alleged that the petitioner, Rithesh Pais, told him to stop work. When he replied he was working on the instructions of the building owner, Jayakumar R Nair, Pais abused him.

For Sec 323 offence, “hurt” should be from fight: HC

Complainant Mohan alleged that in front of five other witnesses, petitioner, Rithesh Pais addressed him by taking the name of his caste, issued life threats and obstructed construction activity.

In his order on June 10, Justice M Nagaprasanna pointed out that abuses attributed to the petitioner were hurled in the basement of a building, it does not attract provisions of the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. “...What is necessary to drive home an offence that would become punishable under these sections is that hurling of abuses must be either in apublic place or a place of public view,” the judgment said.

The judge added that there is no indication regarding the presence of any person other than those working there, who were either employees of the building owner or friends of the complainant.

Further, Pais claimed that Mohan was acting at the instance of building owner, Jayakumar R Nair, against whom he had instituted a civil suit in a property dispute and secured an interim injunction.

The judge also dismissed charges invoked under Section 323 of the IPC (voluntarily causing hurt), saying, “For an offence punishable under section 323 IPC, hurt should be caused in the squabble. A perusal of the wound certificate shows a simple scratch mark was caused on the forearm and another on the chest. Bleeding is not what is indicated.”


Situations that lead to attacks

As in 2020

Himanshi Dhawan, September 13, 2020: The Times of India

‘If I had stood there ten minutes longer, I would be dead,” says Shivan Raja, a 38-year-old mill worker, who thinks he is lucky for having got away only with a head injury and a few stitches. His crime: not standing up to acknowledge uppercaste boys as they drove past. Raja, a resident of Checkanurani village near Madurai, Tamil Nadu was resting at a bus shelter near a local market when a group of four upper caste men passed by on motorcycles on May 27. Raja’s cousin recognised them and hastily shuffled to his feet but Raja did not. The slight did not go unnoticed. The group circled back and demanded to know why they had been ignored. A confused Raja sputtered an apology in response but that failed to appease them. As Raja ran for his life, the group followed hurling stones, casteist insults and abuses. They finally left him bleeding from his head and unconscious.

Raja’s case is not an exception. Across the country, innocuous actions like brushing past a motorcycle, sitting on a chair in the presence of a dominant caste member or even sporting an upturned moustache or mojaris (traditional embroidered footwear) have invited wrath on Dalit youth. Last month, 40 Dalit families in Kantio Kateni village of Odisha’s Dhenkanal district were socially boycotted when a 15-year-old girl plucked flowers from the backyard of an upper caste family. In July this year, a Dalit man was stripped and beaten up along with his family members in Karnataka’s Vijayapura district for allegedly touching the motorcycle of an upper-caste person. Any marker of upward mobility or affluence can trigger an assault. Handicrafts trader Babulal Jogesh, who lives in Huron Ka Tala village in Rajasthan’s Barmer district, was cornered by Rajputs who objected to him crossing their homes wearing sunglasses and riding his bike in November 2017. “Four of them cornered me, grabbed my hair, broke my bike and sunglasses,” he recalls. The material he was carrying was thrown and stamped on. “I was so scared that I did not use that route for a month,” he says. His business came to near standstill for the next few months as he pursued his case with the police.

In June 2018, a 13-year-old Dalit boy was beaten up in Becharaji town, 110km from Ahmedabad, simply because he was wearing mojaris.

Dalit activist and academician Sujatha Surepally says that with education and migration the Dalit community is trying to challenge caste hierarchies but the dominant castes continue to hang on to their so-called superiority. “The dominant castes have a fixed image of who they see as a Dalit. When reality does not match their mental image of someone who is deferential, revenge is unleashed,” she says.

Dalit activist and author Chandrabhan Prasad agrees that it’s a reaction against rising aspirations. “Young Dalit men and women are aspiring for more. Earlier we would see a bride come barefoot to her husband’s home. Today Dalit families save enough to splurge on SUVs to bring the bride home with a sense of pride.” At a wedding in April last year a group of uppercaste men beat up a 21-year-old Dalit in Uttarakhand so badly that he died nine days later. All because he sat on a chair in their presence. These reprisals, Prasad says, are often filmed to serve as a warning for others who might try and “overreach”. “There is a feeling that he is being shown his rightful place,” he adds. Incidents of violence have seen a sharp spike in some states in the last few months. NGO Evidence that tracks attacks on the Dalit community in TN usually records about 1,200 cases a year of which 10% or about 120 cases are brutal assault. Vincent Raj also called Kathir, who heads Evidence, says that the organisation has already recorded 150 cases of brutal atrocities in the last five months.

Rahul Singh from the National Dalit Movement for Justice says that while the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act has stringent provisions, including a prison term, it is ineffectively implemented. “The law provides that each state should have a monitoring committee, but most state committees have not met, and in some states they do not even exist. The police are also either reluctant or unwilling to use the right provisions,” he says. Dalit activist-lawyer Atul Chavda from Gujarat’s Amreli was taunted and abused by a senior cop in April last year for wearing a gold chain and keeping an upturned moustache. He has since written to the police commissioner, the state human rights commission and the chief minister but there has been very little progress in the investigation. In fact, many efforts were made to urge him to take his complaint back.

Rajasthan’s Jogesh also came under tremendous pressure from the village panchayat to withdraw his police complaint, but he plans to pursue his case in court. “I might lose but I will not withdraw,” he says.



Crimes against the Scheduled Castes/ Dalits


Backlash , India Today , August 8,2016

2013, ’14: rape of SC women

2013-15: State-wise atrocities against Dalits

The Hindu, July 25, 2016

Atrocities against Dalits, state-wise: 2012-14; Graphic courtesy: The Hindu, July 25, 2016

Vikas Pathak,G Sampath

U.P., Bihar lead in crimes against Dalits

Data from Gujarat show such atrocities impossibly make up 163% of the total number of crimes. Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Bihar lead the country in the number of cases registered of crimes against the Scheduled Castes, official data pertaining to 2013, 2014 and 2015 show.

The National Commission for Scheduled Castes (NCSC) counts these States among those deserving special attention.

While U.P. has witnessed a political war of words over an expelled BJP leader's insulting remarks on BSP leader Mayawati, it is Rajasthan that leads in number of crimes against Dalits.

Fifty-two to 65 per cent of all crimes in Rajasthan have a Dalit as the victim. This is despite the fact that the State's SC (Dalit) population is just 17.8 per cent of its total population. With six per cent of India's Dalit population, the State accounts for up to 17 per cent of the crimes against them across India.

With 20 per cent of India's Dalit population, U.P. accounts for 17 per cent of the crimes against them. The numbers — ranging from 7078 to 8946 from 2013 to 2015 — are high, but so is the population of Dalits in the State.

Bihar too has a poor track record, with 6721 to 7893 cases of atrocities in the same period, contributing 16-17 per cent of the all India crimes against Dalits with just eight per cent of the country's SC population. While Dalits form 15.9 per cent of the State’s population, 40-47 per cent of all crimes registered there are against Dalits.

Gujarat corrects figures

Gujarat on its part has shared corrected figures of crimes against Dalits with the NCSC after an abnormal increase in the figures pertaining to crimes against Dalits in the State.

“The anamoly and sudden increase in respect to Gujarat and Chhattisgarh are abnormal and are being highlighted so that these States can provide actual data in case there was a mistake in reporting,” said the agenda note for the NCSC review meeting with the States last week.

Gujarat's numbers of crimes against Dalits had jumped to 6655 in 2015 from 1130 in 2014, which made NCSC officials suspicious. There was also a statistical impossibility in the data — the crimes against Dalits were 163 per cent of the total number of crimes reported.

“Gujarat officials corrected the data in the meeting, and these are like previous years,” an official present at the meet said. “Chhattisgarh officials have done the same.”

Gujarat's officials, sources said, were worried that “inflated” data would further damage the State's record on Dalit atrocities when at a time it is in the eye of storm over the Una incident of public beating of Dalits and the subsequent suicide attempts by Dalits in the state.

In an attempt at damage control, the Gujarat government has also released figures claiming crimes against Dalits in the State have “gone down” under the BJP. The corrected figure for 2015 in this data set is 1052, which is lower than figure for 2014.

The data also claim that while there were on an average 1669 crimes against Dalits per year in the State from 1991 to 2000, the number declined to 1098 between 2011 and 2015.


So far as the atrocities reported to the NCSC by Dalits who feel the authorities are not giving them justice are concerned, U.P. accounts for the highest number at 2024 cases and Tamil Nadu comes next at 999 cases.


The Times of India, Oct 22 2015

Crime against SCs, 2009-13; Graphic courtesy: The Times of India, Oct 22 2015
Caste conflict in India, Total cases of crimes against Dalits;
5 most common crimes in India;
5 most common crimes against Dalits;
Total number of cases of investigation and cases in which investigation is pending at the end of 2015;
Do politicians see Dalit population as vote bank?

From: November 9, 2015: India Today

Bharti Jain

Over 47k crimes against Dalits in 2014, 21 killed in Haryana: NCRB

Rahul Gandhi may claim Dalits are being increasingly targeted under NDA but National Crime Re cords Bureau statistics for the last few years of the UPA's term show crimes against scheduled castes rose almost steadily to 47,064 in 2014 from 39,408 in 2013 (a rise of 19%), 33,655 in 2012 (17%), 33,719 in 2011, 32,712 in 2010 and 33,594 in 2009.

Last year, as many as 744 Dalits were murdered, up from 676 in 2013, 651 in 2012, 673 in 2011, 570 in 2010 and 624 in 2009. Haryana, where the Congress government led by Hooda was in office till October last year, 21 people belonging to the SC community were murdered in 2014. In fact, the rate of such crimes surpassed the national average in as many as 10 states both in 2014 (23.4 per lakh of their population), and 2013 (19.57). Rate of crime against SCs means number of crimes reported against SCs per one lakh of their population.

Rapes of Dalit women stood at 2,233 in 2014, up from 2,073 in 2013, 1,576 in 2012, 1,557 in 2011, 1,349 in 2010 and 1,346 in 2009. Kidnappings and abductions too went up, barring in 2012 which saw a marginal decline. Against 755 kidnappingsabductions in 2014, there were 628 in 2013, 490 in 2012, 616 in 2011, 511 in 2010 and 512 in 2009.


Neeraj Chauhan Aug 31 2016 : The Times of India (Delhi)

In the context of attacks on Dalits, the NCRB data for 2015 suggest such crimes have dipped. While 45,003 cases of crimes committed against scheduled castes were reported in 2015, the number was 47,064 in 2014, a decrease of 4.4%. Uttar Pradesh reported maximum number of attacks on Dalits -8,358, followed by Rajasthan (6,998), Bihar (6,438), Arunachal Pradesh (4,415) and Madhya Pradesh (4188). The cases included assault on Dalit women, murders, rapes and abduction.


Radheshyam Jadhav, Crime against SCs, STs highest in MP, December 11, 2017: The Times of India

Crime- atrocities against Scheduled Castes-Scheduled Tribes change (2016 over 2014), state-wise
From: Radheshyam Jadhav, Crime against SCs, STs highest in MP, December 11, 2017: The Times of India

J’khand, Bihar And Raj See Dip Between ’14 & ’16

Crime against people from the scheduled castes (SC) and scheduled tribes (ST) has increased sharply in Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat between 2014 and 2016 while it has declined in Jharkhand, Bihar, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh. Overall, crimes and atrocities against SCs and STs across the states have shown an increase of 0.3% over this period.

National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data shows Madhya Pradesh, which tops the chart in increase in crime against SCs and STs has witnessed a 49.4% rise in crime against SCs and a 15.6% rise in cases of crime against STs.

Kerala has recorded a 51.7% rise in crime against STs, the highest among all states. The overall crime against STs between 2014 and 2016 has dropped by 3.8%, while crimes against SCs have increased by 1%. The analysis here is for states that have registered at least 100 cases of such crimes.

Gujarat is the only state apart from MP that figures in the top five in terms of increase in crimes against both SCs and STs. It has witnessed 26% and 21% increases in crimes against ST and SC respectively. The state registered 1,094, 1,010 and 1,322 cases of crime against SCs and 223, 248 and 281 crime cases against STs in 2014, 2015 and 2016 respectively.

States like Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Bihar and Jharkhand have seen a decrease in crimes against SCs and STs. Bihar shows a 67.5% decline incrime against STs, while crimes against SCs have declined in Jharkhand by 41.9%.

A study conducted by the New Delhi based Socio Economic and Educational Development Society (SEEDS) that analysed primary qualitative data for the last few years reveals that, apart from caste prejudices, the practice of untouchability and deeprooted social biases, the major factors responsible for such atrocities include land disputes, land alienation, bonded labour, indebtedness, non-payment of minimum wages, forced labour, family disputes, inter-caste marriages and economic disputes.

The study refers to earlier surveys conducted by various agencies, research organisations and social activists to indicate that there has been an increase in such crimes and atrocities, but lack of uniformity and inconsistencies in the reporting of various types of crimes and atrocities means all of it is not being captured in the official data.


April 3, 2018: The Times of India

Crimes against SCs, highest increase and highest decline, state-wise
From: April 3, 2018: The Times of India


Crimes against Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes have increased sharply in Madhya Pradesh, Haryana, UP and Gujarat, according to the NCRB

The SC's verdict in March diluting certain provisions of the SC/ST Act triggered the protests

With the Karnataka elections next month, the events are bound to become a poll issue

47,000 cases filed in 2016

‘47k cases of crimes on SC/STs filed in ’16’, April 4, 2018: The Times of India

The government informed Parliament on Tuesday that 47,338 cases of crimes against scheduled castes and scheduled tribes were registered across the country in 2016.

Union minister of state for home Hansraj Gangaram Ahir told Lok Sabha in a written reply that according to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) records, a total of 40,774 cases were registered in crimes against the SCs in 2016. Of these, charge-sheets were filed in 78% cases, and the conviction rate was 26%, Ahir said.

As many as 6,564 cases were registered over alleged crimes against the scheduled tribes in 2016, in which charge-sheets were filed in over 81% cases where the conviction rate was 21%, the minister said. Ahir said in 2015, a total of 38,564 cases were registered for alleged crimes against the SCs in which charge-sheets were filed in 74% cases and the conviction rate was 27%.

He said altogether 6,275 cases were registered in the country for alleged crimes against STs in 2015 in which charge-sheets were filed in 74% cases, and the conviction rate was 20 per cent.

The minister said Rule 3 (v) of SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Rules, 1995 specifies that with a view to prevent atrocities on members of SCs and STs, the state government, if deemed necessary, can provide arms licenses to the member of scheduled castes and scheduled tribes.


Times Insight Group, October 2, 2020: The Times of India

Crimes Against Scheduled Castes, 2019, state-wise
From: October 2, 2020: The Times of India

Nine states accounted for 84% of all crimes against Dalits in India in 2019 though they accounted for only 54% of the country’s SC population, according to data just released by the National Crime Records Bureau. The highest rates (number of crimes for every lakh population of Dalits) were in Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Bihar and Gujarat. The others with rates above the national average were Telangana, UP, Kerala, Odisha and Andhra Pradesh.

The data also shows that the conviction rate in offences under the SC/ST Atrocities Act was just 32% nationally and the pendency rate of cases an alarming 94%.

There were nearly 46,000 crimes against SCs in 2019, up about 7% from the previous year. Of these, the nine states which had a higher rate than the national average accounted for nearly 38,400. While Uttar Pradesh had the absolute number, Rajasthan had by far the highest rate of crimes against dalits of almost 56 per lakh SC population. Punjab, the state in which Dalits account for a higher proportion of the population, had among the lowest rates of crimes, Jammu & Kashmir, West Bengal and Assam being the only ones with even lower rates among the major states. The data in the NCRB publication ‘Crime in India, 2019’ also shows that while the chargesheeting rate in crimes against SCs is a reasonably high 78.5% at the all-India level, less than one in every three cases the courts dispose of ends in conviction. Couple that with the fact that only about one in every 16 cases for trial during a year is disposed of and that makes for depressing reading.

Here’s how those numbers add up. At the beginning of 2019, there were close to 1.7 lakh cases pending trial. Nearly 35,000 more cases were sent for trial during the year, taking the total to over 2 lakh. Less than 13,000 of these were disposed of during the year and of those just over 4,000 ended in conviction.

Among the states with high crimes rates, the lowest conviction rate, a mere 1.8%, is in Gujarat. Andhra Pradesh (6.8%), Kerala (8.4%), Telangana (9%) also have single digit conviction rates while Bihar’s 12.2% is not much better. UP (66.1%) and MP (51.1%) have significantly higher conviction rates than the national average, but UP also has a pendency ratio of over 95%.

NCRB data shows that conviction rate for offences under the SC/ST Atrocities Act in 2019 was just 32% nationally, and the pendency rate of cases an alarming 94%



Indpaedia will henceforth try to keep a log of all major incidents/ atrocities reported in the national press.

The sequence of each report will be



Place region / state

Type of incident

P Perpetrator (culprit)

V Victim(s): if names are available


Dec 8 Kishanpur village Chhatarpur Bundelkhand/ MP 25-year-old MP Dalit touches food at a feast, beaten to death P: Bhoora Soni and Santosh Pal V: Devraj Anuragi

See also

Scheduled Castes/ Tribes: crimes against, and prevention of

Caste and the law: India

Rapes in India: the legal position after 2013

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