Sun. Sep 20th, 2020

Lok Sabha passed Amendments to the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989

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The Lok Sabha passed the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention
of Atrocities) Amendment Bill, 2014
which seeks to replace the Scheduled Castes
and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Ordinance, 2014 and
amend the provisions of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes
(Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989. The bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha
by the Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Mr. Thaawar Chand Gehlot on 16.7.2014.

The Bill
amends certain existing categories of actions to be treated as offences against
SCs and STs and adds some new categories of offences. The new categories of
offences added by the Bill are garlanding with footwear, compelling to dispose
or carry human or animal carcasses, or do manual scavenging, abusing SCs or STs
by caste name in public attempting to promote feelings of ill-will against SCs
or STs or disrespecting any deceased person held in high esteem, and imposing
or threatening a social or economic boycott. Assaulting or sexually
exploiting an SC/ST woman is already an offence under the 1989 Act.  The
Bill also makes punishable intentional touch to a SC/ST woman in sexual manner
without her consent, use of words, acts or gestures of a sexual nature for a
SC/ST woman, or dedicating a SC/ST woman as a devadasi to a temple, or any
similar practice. The Bill also expands the offence of inducing SC/ST vote
in a manner against law and explains the offence of wrongfully occupying the
land belonging to SCs or STs by defining the term “wrongful” which was not
defined in the 1989 Act. The Bill also adds a chapter on the rights of victims
and witnesses.

A non SC
or ST public servant who neglects his duties relating to SCs or STs can be
punished with imprisonment for a term of six months to one year under the Act
as it exists, the Bill specifies these duties, including, registering a
complaint or FIR, reading out information given orally, before taking the
signature of the informant and giving a copy of this information to the
informant, etc. Another important amendment is that where under the existing
Act a Court of Session at the district level is deemed a Special Court to
provide speedy trials for offences and a Special Public Prosecutor is appointed
to conduct cases in this court.  The Bill
substitutes this provision and specifies that an Exclusive Special Court must
be established at the district level, and in a district with fewer cases a
Special Court, to try offences under the Bill. It is also provided that
cases under this Bill must be disposed within two months and the appeals shall
lie to High Courts which must be disposed within three months.

Lok Sabha


Source: Legal news India

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