Center asks 11 states to ensure speedy justice in atrocity cases
Four states have a pendency rate ranging from 87% to 95% in cases of atrocities against Dalits and Tribals.Updated: Feb 04, 2018 23:40 IST
Ahead of the 2019 general election and upcoming assembly polls in at least three BJP-ruled states, the BJP-led NDA government at the Centre has asked 11 state governments to clear the backlog of cases of atrocities against Dalits and Tribals to combat disenchantment among these communities.
These 11 states, six of which go to polls coinciding with the general election have a high pendency of cases filed under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. States such as the BJP-ruled Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan; apart from Odisha, Telengana and Andhra Pradesh, which are on the list of 11, have been instructed to speed up the process of filing charge sheets and setting up special courts for the hearing these cases.
According to the law, an adequate number of exclusive special courts have to be set up in each state to dispose off cases within two months as far as possible.
The Union ministry of social justice and empowerment, which is nodal ministry for overall policy, planning and coordination of programmes for development of SC and ST’s, has asked states where conviction rates are abysmally low to assess the reasons for acquittals.
As per the data available with the Centre for the period between 2014 and 2016, Bihar had a whopping pendency rate of 95%, Gujarat 92%, Maharashtra 86.3%, Rajasthan 87.2% and Karnataka 87.2%. Conviction rates are as low as 3.5% in Gujarat, 4.2% in Andhra Pradesh, 3.3% in Karnataka and 3.9% in Odisha as against the all India rate of 26.6%.
Data collated by the national crimes record bureau (NCRB) also indicts BJP-ruled states of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan and Gujarat for higher instances of crimes against Dalits.
A senior BJP functionary said the recent drubbing in Rajasthan by-elections where the ruling party lost two Lok Sabha seats and an assembly seat, and the reduction in its seat share in the Gujarat assembly have set off concern in the party echelons, necessitating the need to make amends in the BJP-ruled states to begin with.
“The party does not want the polity to be divided on caste lines and it does not want a repeat of what happened in Una (Gujarat) where Jignesh Mewani shot to political fame by using the incident of flogging of Dalits as a weapon against the party. Similar incidents (attacks on Dalits) happened in Sikar, Ajmer and Udaipur (Rajasthan) and the message that went out, adversely affected us,” the functionary said.
Union minister Thawar Chand Gehlot who recently addressed the representatives of the 11 states urging them to ensure speedy delivery of justice, said that the simmering discontent within the communities was being leveraged by vested interests.
“There are some who try and use the cases of atrocities against SCs/STs for their benefits and to make them separatists and push towards casteism or turbulence. These problems will be harmful for all, and we need to ensure this does not happen. This is our legal duty and responsibility,” the minister said.