By the end of this year, the state will have six special courts to try crimes against scheduled castes (SC) and scheduled tribes (ST).
Union social justice minister Mukul Wasnik announced this on Monday after reviewing the implementation of the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and the Protection of Civil Rights Act, which prescribes punishment for preaching and practising untouchability.
The state’s social justice minister Shivajirao Moghe, and members of the national committee on the protection of civil rights, D Napoleon, KM Acharya, Dinesh Parmar and RK Malviya interacted with Wasnik, a Dalit leader from Maharashtra.
“The national committee that has studied implementation the atrocities and civil rights protection act across the country did not find much improvement in Maharashtra,” Wasnik said at the state guesthouse Sahyadri.
Maharashtra was the last on a list of 10 states where most cases of atrocities against SCs and STs were reported, Wasnik said, adding that in 2009, the state registered 1,296 cases.
Also the rate of conviction in cases of atrocities was one of the lowest. “At least 5,000 cases are pending. We need special courts to fast-track them.”
Six revenue divisions, including the Konkan division, which includes Mumbai, will have one court each.
State employment minister Nitin Raut, who had compiled a report on such atrocities when he was minister of state for home in 2008-2009, said the state did not act on his recommendations. “I have submitted all documents to Wasnik and demanded justice for Dalits,” Raut told the Hindustan Times.