Soon, exclusive courts for disposal of SC/ST atrocity cases
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Last Updated: Sunday, March 27, 2011, 11:44
  
New Delhi: Taking serious note of the trial mechanism and poor conviction rate in cases of atrocities against Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, the Centre has asked all the states to set up exclusive special courts to handle such matters.

The move comes after NGOs and social groups repeatedly told the government that there was a rise in atrocity cases against SC/ST in the past few years and that the trial procedure and conviction rate in courts across the country were poor.

"The government has circulated a concept note to all states regarding setting up of exclusive special courts for SC/ST cases," Social Justice and Empowerment Minister Mukul Wasnik said.

He said that certain states have already announced their decision to set up these special courts and discussions were underway at various levels to make this a reality.

According to latest statistics from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), between 1995 to 2009 as many as 80,489 cases of atrocity against people of Scheduled Tribes were registered, of which 1,911 were murder cases and 7,537 rape cases.

Though the NCRB has not given similar data for atrocity cases against Scheduled Castes, a report tabled in Parliament in the Budget Session showed that in 2008 itself as many as 30,913 offences were registered.

Wasnik admitted that the conviction rates in such cases was "abysmally" low at 27 per cent as compared to that of other IPC offences. He also lamented that the pendency of these cases in courts nationwide was as much as 81 per cent.

Retired senior IAS officer P S Krishnan, who is credited for the formulation of the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, has been advocating on the urgent need to set up the exclusive special courts.

"Apart from the issue of pendency of large number of cases, the issue here is that there is a dearth of lawyers and judges to hear such matters," Krishnan said.

He said tribals face a lot of problems when they go to regular courts as nobody understands their language and issues. Krishnan also said there was a need for day-to-day trial of SC/ST cases once the special courts were set up.

As per the official figures, at the end of 2009, as many as 15,909 cases of crimes against ST remained pending in courts. States like Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and Orissa have the maximum number of instances of crimes against SC/ST community, the figures indicated.

"The need of the hour is to have exclusive special courts, lawyers from the SC/ST community and aware of their rights and issues and also investigators who can handle such cases," the retired bureaucrat said.

PTI


First Published: Sunday, March 27, 2011, 11:44


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