Dalits (SC) and Tribals (ST) are the most marginalized sections of Indian society. Many atrocities have been committed against them since time immemorial. The SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act protects them against discrimination and atrocities. However, the SC/ST act can never be called a successful legislation.
Dalits and Tribals still face discrimination. On the other side, there is widespread concern over misuse of the provisions of the Act against innocent persons. As per the Supreme Court of India, the SC/ST act has become an instrument of “blackmail” and is being used by some to exact “vengeance” and satisfy vested interests.
Subhash Kashinath Mahajan vs The State of Maharashtra [Review of SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act ]
Supreme Court opined that SC/ST Prevention of Atrocities Act (PoA act) is being misused and checks are needed to prevent such misuse. The act has become a tool to persecute innocents and public servants for political and personal gains.
There was a national strike by Dalits against the judgment which turned violent leading to loss of lives. The Center has given review petition against the judgment. However, the Supreme Court has refused to keep in abeyance its earlier order preventing automatic arrests on complaints filed under the SC/ST Act.
Political parties started blame-game and grandstanding, to make mileage out of the issue for 2019 elections. But amidst all this cacophony, the real issue should not be crowded out. PoA act is a transformative act and a ‘Brahmastra’ in the arsenal of hapless Dalits to fight their historically asymmetrical war of subjugation. It should be strengthened through proper implementation. But safeguards should also be inserted to protect innocents from being falsely persecuted. This could happen only through debates between all stakeholders.
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