Conviction rate poor under SC & ST Act: official document
B. Aravind Kumar
Over a thousand cases are being booked every year under SC & ST
Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989, but the conviction rate was poor
as the affected turned hostile at the time of trial or reached a
compromise with the accused after obtaining monetary relief.
An official document presented to the State-level vigilance and
monitoring committee presided by Deputy Chief Minister M.K. Stalin on
Wednesday has also revealed the areas prone to caste atrocities in the
State based on the number of pending cases at courts.
Over 1,000 cases were filed under the SC & ST Prevention of Atrocities
Act every year according to statistics available from 2005.
Of this 90 per cent were booked on charges of verbal abuse on caste
lines. As the trial process involved 13 stages in courts and as it
takes one month to cross each stage, there were chances of witnesses
forgetting the events, officials reasoned.
One of the major reasons for the poor rate of conviction was that the
affected often turned hostile. The affected make a compromise with the
accused as charges for verbal abuse were not harsh. Further, the
affected turned hostile as 80 per cent of the affected receive
monetary relief immediately after charge sheets are filed leading to
the release of the accused.
The Government, to its credit, has sanctioned about Rs.1.5 crore as
monetary relief to the affected annually from 2006.
The document prepared by the Social Justice and Human Rights Wing of
Adi Dravidar Welfare Department has that 2,822 cases were pending at
courts and special courts and district-wise data of pending cases has
clearly mapped the "hotspots."
Madurai rural tops the list
Madurai rural tops the list with 353 cases pending before the courts
followed by Sivaganga (310), Tirunelveli (220), Villupuram (220),
Virudhunagar (205), Dindigul (158), Thanjavur (136) and Ramanathapuram
(131). The Nilgiris is the only district with a single digit (7)
Among the cities, Madurai tops with 35 pending cases followed by
Chennai (18), Salem (13), Coimbatore (10) and Tiruchi (2).
Surveys done in 2010 have identified 174 villages as atrocity-prone
and 295 villages as peaceful.
At the time of the survey, infrastructural needs like roads, street
lights, drinking water and access to availability of burial grounds
Providing basic amenities to SC and ST Communities has been chosen as
the key to reduce caste conflicts in the Government's action plan.
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