The average conviction rate under PoA Act for cases of atrocities against dalits and adivasis remained abysmally low at 25.2% and 22.8%, respectively between 2009 and 2018.
Hyderabad: Cases of atrocities against dalits and adivasis have increased by 281.75% and 575.33%, respectively, from 2009 to 2018, recorded under Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 (PoA Act), according to a status report on the implementation of PoA Act, released by National Dalit Movement for Justice (NDMJ), associated with National Campaign on Dalit Human Rights (NCDHR).
Speaking at a virtual event for releasing the report titled ‘Quest for Justice’ on Friday, September 11, former Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan said, “Dalit communities have long suffered serious abuses, but the state response has fallen short. The government should undertake systemic changes for proper enforcement of law, and ensure that erring officials are held accountable and booked as they are failing their duty.”
As many as 3,91,952 cases of crimes against SCs were reported between 2009 and 2018 and 72,367 cases of crimes against STs were reported during the same period, states the report based on data from National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). In a worrying trend, crimes against dalits and adivasis have increased by 27.3% and 20.3%, respectively in 2018.
“Over the decade to 2018, the crime rate against SCs rose by 6%, from 20.1 crimes per 100,000 dalits reported in 2009, to 21.3 crimes in 2018. Meanwhile, the crime rate against adivasis or STs decreased by around 1.6 %, from 6.4 crimes per 100,000 adivasis in 2009 to 6.3 crimes in 2018,” states the report. The highest increase in crime rate against SCs were recorded in eight states- Goa, Kerala, Delhi, Gujarat, Bihar, Maharashtra, Jharkhand and Sikkim, where rates rose over 10 times in one decade.
With 51,824 cases of crime against SCs registered under PoA Act between 2009 and 2018 in Uttar Pradesh, the state ranks first among all states in the category with share of 22.38% of total crime, cases under the Act followed by Bihar (19.58%), Rajasthan (10.26%), Madhya Pradesh (8.47%), Andhra Pradesh (6.30%), Odisha (6%), Karnataka (5.75%), Tamil Nadu (4.94%), Maharashtra (3.94) and Gujarat (2.53%).
During the period of 10 years, MP had 8,920 cases of crime against STs registered under PoA Act. The state ranks first among all states in the category with share of 22.71% of total crime cases under the Act followed by Rajasthan (16.51%), Odisha (12.97%), Andhra Pradesh (7.29%), Karnataka (7.19%), Maharashtra (6.54%), Chhattisgarh (5.84%), Jharkhand (5.03%), Gujarat (4.17%) and Bihar (1.46%).
Crime Against SC/ST women under PoA Act
Crimes against dalit women under PoA Act increased by 32.04 % in 2018 (with 6,806 cases) over the year 2014 with 5,154 cases. Simultaneously, crimes against tribal women have increased by 113.21 % in 2018 with 9,883 cases from 2014 with 1,892 cases.
During 2014 to 2018, 95% of crimes against dalit women are related to rape, assault on women to outrage modesty, kidnapping and attempting to compel her for marriage. During the same period, 93% of crimes against ST women are related to rape and assault on SC/ST women to outrage modesty.
LOW CONVICTION RATE
The NDMJ analysis says that of the total 3,91,952 crimes against SCs, about 45.72% of them were not registered under PoA Act during 2009 to 2018. Similarly, of the total 72,367 crimes against STs, in about 45.72% cases of them were not registered under PoA Act.
Police investigation is pending in a total of 16,300 cases of crime against dalits under PoA Act in 2018, which is an increase by 167.43% compared to 6,095 cases in 2009. Among cases of crime against STs, pending investigations have risen 376.88 % by the end of 2018 with 2,599 cases from 2009 with 554 cases.
Furthermore, on an average, police authorities have chargesheeted 76.1% PoA Act cases of crimes against SCs and 78.9% of PoA Act cases of crimes against STs.
The report further stated that the average conviction rate under PoA Act for cases of atrocities against dalits and adivasis remained at 25.2% and 22.8% ,respectively between 2009 and 2018.
Putting forward several recommendations, NDMJ urged the government to enforce and implement the new provisions of the amended SCs and STs (PoA) Act, 1989; to take swift and robust action against the dominant caste perpetrators violating the human rights of dalits and adivasis; ensure that open and transparent investigation is conducted for crimes registered under PoA Act and prosecute those government and police officials who are found to have aided and abetted criminals, and implement the exclusive special courts mandated in the amended act for speedy trials.