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
"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
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
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.