Shri Thaawarchand Gehlot Chairs 24th Meeting Of Committee to review protection of Civil Rights {PCR} Act, 1955 & SCs/ STs {PoA} Act, 1989


Shri Thaawarchand Gehlot, Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment chaired the Twenty Fourth meeting of the Committee to review the Protection of Civil Rights {PCR} Act, 1955 and the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) {PoA} Act, 1989, in States of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Uttar Pradesh here today. Shri Jual Oram, Minister for Tribal Affairs, Shri Ram Das Athawale, Minister of State for Social Justice and Empowerment, Ministers and Principal Secretaries of Social Justice of State Governments participated in the meeting. Smt. Latha Krishna Rao, Secretary, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Smt. Leena Nair, Secretary, Ministry of Tribal Affairs and senior officers from M/o SJ&E were also present in the meeting.

Addressing on the occasion, Shri Thaawarchand Gehlot expressed his deep concern on the growing cases of atrocities against SCs and STs in many States and asked them to contain it in an effective manner. He said that the establishment of exclusive Special Courts and specification of exclusive Special Public Prosecutors should be accorded high priority by all State governments. He emphasized on the regular conduct of meetings of State and District Level Vigilance and Monitoring Committees to review the implementation of POA Act because these committees are required to review relief and rehabilitation facilities provided to the victims and other matters concerned therewith. He opined that there should be timely completion of investigation and filing of charge sheet.

Today’s Meeting reviewed the implementation status of the PCR Act and the PoA Act in the States of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Gujarat, Karnataka, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu, Telangana and Uttar Pradesh. The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Rules, 1995, made by the Central Government in exercise of powers conferred by sub-section (1) of Section 23 of the PoA Act, have also been amended by the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Rules, 2016, and notified on 14th April, 2016.

Article 17 of the Constitution of India abolished ‘untouchability’, forbade its practice in any form and made enforcement of any disability arising out of untouchability as an offence punishable in accordance with the law. An Act of Parliament namely the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) {PoA} Act, 1989, which falls within the provisions of Article 17 of the Constitution was enacted for preventing atrocities against members of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, to provide for Special Courts for the trial of such offences as well as relief and rehabilitation of the victims of atrocities.  The PoA Act extends to the whole of India except Jammu & Kashmir, and responsibility for its implementation rests with State Governments.

With an objective to deliver members of SCs and STs, a greater justice as well as an enhanced deterrent to the offenders, the PoA Act has been amended by the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2015 and enforced with effect from 26.01.2016. The salient features of the aforesaid Amendment Act are:

(i) Addition of several new offences  of atrocities like tonsuring of head, moustache, or similar acts which are derogatory to the dignity of members of SCs and STs,  garlanding with footwear,  denying access to irrigation facilities or forest rights , dispose or carry human or animal carcasses, or to dig graves,  using or permitting manual scavenging,  dedicating a Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe  women as devadasi,  abusing in caste name, perpetrating witchcraft atrocities,  imposing social or economic boycott,  preventing SC and ST  candidates from filing of nomination to contest elections, hurting a SC/ST woman by removing her garments, forcing  a member of SC/ST to leave house , village or residence, defiling objects sacred to members of SCs and STs ,  touching or using words, acts or gestures of a sexual nature against members of SC and ST,

(ii)  Addition of certain IPC offences like hurt, grievous hurt, intimidation, kidnapping etc., attracting less than ten years of imprisonment, committed against members of SCs and STs, as offences punishable under the PoA Act, besides rephrasing and expansion of some of earlier offences.

(iii) Establishment of Exclusive Special Courts and specification of Exclusive Special Public Prosecutors to exclusively try the offences under the PoA Act to enable expeditious disposal of cases, power of Special Courts and Exclusive Special Courts to take direct cognizance of offence and as far as possible, completion of trial of the case, as far as possible within two months from the date of filing of the charge sheet.

(iv) Addition of chapter on the ‘Rights of Victims and Witnesses’.

The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Rules, 1995, made by the Central Government in exercise of powers conferred by sub-section (1) of Section 23 of the PoA Act, have also been amended by the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Rules, 2016, and notified on 14th April, 2016. Its salient features are as under:-

  1. The number of offences of atrocities, for which admissible relief amount to the victims /their dependents is admissible, has increased from 22 to 47.
  2. Provision of relief amount for grievous offences against SC and ST women, has been enabled on conclusion of trial, even when such cases do not end in conviction.
  3. Medical examination of SC and ST women for non-invasive offences against them, has been done away for getting admissible relief amount.
  4. The relief amount has been enhanced and made between Rs. 85,000/- to Rs. 8, 25,000/-, depending upon the nature of the offence, which has to be paid to atrocity victims/ their dependents, within seven days.
  5. A separate provision of relief for offences of rape and gang rape of Rs. 5 lakh and Rs. 8.25 lakh respectively, has been made.  
  6. For the first time, separate provisions for relief amount between Rs. 8, 25,000/- to Rs.85, 000/- has been made for victims of acid attacks, depending upon degree of burns.
  7. To enable timely commencement of prosecution, investigation of the case and filing of the charge sheet in the court has to be done within sixty days. 

A  Committee under the Chairpersonship of Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment with members from Ministries of Home Affairs, Tribal Affairs, Law and Justice, Department of Justice, National Commission for Scheduled Castes, National Commission for Scheduled Tribes and three non-official members( two amongst SCs and one amongst SC) was set up in the year 2006 on a recommendation of the Parliament Committee, to devise ways and means to curb offences of atrocities and ensure effective administration Acts of Parliament namely the Protection of Civil Rights{PCR} Act, 1955 and the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes(Prevention of Atrocities){PoA}  Act, 1989.

Present composition of the Committee constituted for effective coordination to devise ways and means to curb offences of untouchability and atrocities against members of SCs and STs and effective implementation of the PCR and PoA Acts.


1

Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment

Chairperson

2

Minister of Tribal Affairs

Co-Chairperson

3

Minister for State for Social Justice and Empowerment

Special Invitee

4

Minister for State for Tribal Affairs

Special Invitee

5

Secretary, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment

Member

6

Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs

Member

7

Secretary, Department of Justice, Ministry of Law and Justice

Member

8

Secretary, Ministry of Tribal Affairs

Member

9

Secretary, National Commission for Scheduled Castes

Member

10

Secretary, National Commission for Scheduled Tribes

Member

11

Joint Secretary, Ministry of Home Affairs (In charge of National Crime Records Bureau)

Member

12

Two non-official representatives from amongst Scheduled Castes

Member

13

One non-official representative from amongst Scheduled Tribes

Member

14

Joint Secretary (SCD), Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment

Member-Secretary



 
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