Amendment in SC/ST Act is need of hour

Amendment in SC/ST Act is need of hour – Gehlot

Union Minister of Social Justice & Empowerment Shri Thaawarchand Gehlot today said that amendment in SC/ST act is the need of the hour. Expressing concern in a meeting held here to review and amend the provisions in the Protection of Civil Rights {PCR} Act, 1955 and the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) {PoA} Act, 1989, he said that objective behind this amendment is not only to identify more cases of atrocities which were left unreported earlier but also to increase the successful ending and conviction in this issue so that controlling these kind of small incidents will lead to a just and equal society.

The Minister said that despite the deterrent provisions made in the PoA Act, continuing atrocities against the members of Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs) had been a cause of concern. High incidence of occurrences of offences against members of SCs and STs also indicated that the deterrent effect of the PoA Act was not adequately felt by the accused. It was, therefore, considered appropriate to strengthen the Act and make the relevant provisions of the Act more effective. Shri Gehlot added that based on the consultation process with all the stakeholders, amendments in the PoA Act were proposed to broadly cover five areas namely (i) Amendments to Chapter II (Offences of Atrocities) to include new definitions, new offences, to re -phrase existing sections and expand the scope of presumptions, (ii) Institutional Strengthening, (iii) Appeals (a new section), (iv) Establishing Rights of Victims and Witnesses (a new chapter) and (v) strengthening preventive measures. The objective of these amendments in the PoA Act is to deliver members of SCs and STs, a greater justice as well as be an enhanced deterrent to the offenders. The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill, 2015 to effect amendments in the PoA Act as passed by the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha on 04.08.2015 and 21.12.2015 respectively and assented to by the President on 31.12.2015, has been notified with effect from 26.01.2016.

Article 17 of the Constitution of India abolished ‘untouchability’, forbade its practice in any form and made enforcement of any disability arising out of untouchability as an offence punishable in accordance with the law. An Act of Parliament namely the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) {PoA} Act, 1989, which falls within the provisions of Article 17 of the Constitution was enacted for preventing atrocities against members of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, to provide for Special Courts for the trial of such offences as well as relief and rehabilitation of the victims of atrocities. The PoA Act extends to the whole of India except Jammu & Kashmir, and responsibility for its implementation rests with State Governments.

A Committee under the Chairpersonship of Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment with members from Ministries of Home Affairs, Tribal Affairs, Law and Justice, Department of Justice, National Commission for Scheduled Castes, National Commission for Scheduled Tribes and three non-official members( two amongst SCs and one amongst SC) , which was set up in the year 2006 on a recommendation of the Parliament Committee, to devise ways and means to curb offences of atrocities and ensure effective administration Acts of Parliament namely the Protection of Civil Rights{PCR} Act, 1955 and the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes(Prevention of Atrocities){PoA} Act, 1989, was held meeting to review implementation status of PCR and PoA Acts in States and Union Territories.

The aforesaid meeting has a special significance in view of amendments made in the PoA Act as it has cast a greater responsibility on the concerned State Governments and Union Territory Administrations to augment the infrastructure and human resource for its implementation.

Representatives from various states and union territories presented their opinions and suggestions in terms of successful implementation and practice regarding these acts in their respective states. Shri Gehlot presided over the meeting. Minister of State Shri Krishan Pal Gurjar and Shri Vijay Sampla also addressed the august gathering.

Source: PIB News

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