SC/ST PoA Act 1989 by Krishna Sreeja @ LEXCLIQ

The Indian society is divided into various sects and classes. This is because of the caste system which is prevalent in the country. It has brought many evils in the society. The terms Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes’ (SC/ST) are the official terms used in government documents to identify former untouchables and tribes. Earlier, the people from Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, referred to as “untouchables”. From one sixth of India’s population or 160 million, they endure discrimination and Segregation.

The post – Independence era was marked by frequent instances of atrocities against the SC/ STs were springing up across the country. So, the Indian Government has enacted laws to remove untouchability and has also brought in many reforms to improve the quality of life for these people.

Few among them are :

  • Constitutionally guaranteed fundamental human rights.
  • Abolition of untouchability through Article 17 of the Constitution
  • Provision of reservation in places like education institutions, for employment opportunities etc….

These measures brought some reliefs to the people of SC/ST community. But even after these  provisions, SC/STs are still facing atrocities against them.

Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989:

So, the Parliament of India enacted the Scheduled Castes and Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 to probibit discrimination, prevent atrocities and hate crimes against scheduled castes and Scheduled tribes. This act simply known as Atrocities Act. The preamble of the Act also states that the Act is :

“to prevent the commission of offences of atrocities against the members of Scheduled Castes and Tribes, to provide for Special Courts for the trial offences and for the relief and rehabilitation of the victims of such offences and for matters connected there with or incidental thereto”.

The main purpose of this Act is to prevent the atrocities against SC/ST community people and to safeguard them through the provisions of this Act. The provisions of SC/ST Act and rules can be divided into three different categories, that broadly clarifies a variety of issues related to atrocities against SC/ST people and their situation in society –

  1. The first category contains provisions of criminal law. It establishes criminal liability for a number of specifically defined atrocities, and extends the scope of certain categories of penalizations given in the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
  2. The second category contains provisions for relief and compensation for victims of atrocities.
  3. The third category contains provisions that establish special authorities for the implementation and monitoring of the Act

Irrespective of the number of provisions in this act, this was one of the most misused act. So, to reduce the misuse of this act, the Supreme Court in 2018, in its verdict banned the immediate arrest of a person accused of insulting or injuring the member of a SC/ ST community.

In August, 2018, the parliament of India passed the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill, 2018, to bypass the ruling of the Supreme Court of India laying down procedures for arrests under the Act. The bill inserts section 18A (1) (a) in the 1989 Act, that says a “preliminary enquiry shall not be required for registration of an FIR against any person”. The Bill also inserts Section 18A (1) (b), which says “the investigating officer shall not require approval for the arrest, if necessary, of any person against whom an accusation of having committed an offence under this Act has been made and no procedure, other than that provided under this Act or the Code, shall apply”. The amendments rule out any provision for anticipatory bail for a person accused of atrocities against SC/STs, notwithstanding any court order.

Therefore, the act protects the SC and STs people from the discrimination and from the other atrocities committed against them.

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