The state government has agreed to set up special courts for the speedy trial of cases under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities)Act. There are about 3,000 pending cases under the Act in Maharashtra.
The Maharashtra minister for Social Justice, Shivajirao Moghe, who was here on Tuesday, informed that these courts would be set up in each of the six divisional headquarters in the state to ensure speedy trial of cases.
Responding to a debate on budget allocation for the social justice ministry, Moghe informed the Assembly on late Monday night that the chief minister has in principle accepted the proposal and it would be placed before the cabinet for consideration soon. Later a proposal would be sent to the high court for an approval.
According to Moghe, the conviction rate in the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989, was hardly 3% in Maharashtra while it was over 30% in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
"The reason behind low conviction rate in the state is because of witnesses turning hostile, out-of-court settlements, or insufficient evidence," he pointed out and said that this was not the case in Bihar and Uttar Pradesh.
The union minister for Social Justice, Mukul Wasnik, held a meeting in Mumbai in January this year to review cases under the Atrocities Act and suggested for setting up of special courts in every division to clear the pending cases.
According to Wasnik, the state did not have a high rate of conviction under the Act as there were no special courts for atrocities cases.
"The union social justice ministry has also sought suggestions from the states as to how the Atrocities Act can be amended for better results," Moghe said.
He said that the state Social Justice ministry would bear the all expenses for setting up of special courts, including the salaries and perks of the proposed court employees. "A budgetary provision was made in the current financial outlay in this regard," he informed.
Moghe is hopeful that the special courts would become functional in state from August this year.