Criminal Trident Pack: IPC, CrPC and IEA by Sr. Adv. G.S Shukla and Adv. Raghav Arora
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SPECIAL COURT AND EXCLUSIVE SPECIAL COURT

The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2015 has been notified to be enforced with effect from January 26, 2016.

The amendments to the act also authorize the establishment of exclusive Special Courts and appointment of Exclusive Special Public Prosecutors to try the offences under this act. This is made to enable speedy justice and immediate disposal of cases.

Special Court: Means a Court of Session specified as a Special Court in section 14; [sec-2(a)(d)]

Exclusive Special Court: means the Exclusive Special Court established under sub-section (1) of section 14 exclusively to try the offences under this Act; [sec-2(1)(bd) Ins. by Act 1 of 2016

CHAPTER IV of the act provide the provision about SPECIAL COURTS

According to sec-14 of the act

For the purpose of providing for speedy trial, the State Government shall, with the concurrence of the Chief Justice of the High Court, by notification in the Official Gazette,

  • establish an Exclusive Special Court for one or more Districts
  •  specify for such Districts, the Court of Session to be a Special Court to try the offences under this Act ( in Districts where less number of cases under this Act is recorded)
  • The section  Provided further that the Courts so established or specified shall have power to directly take cognizance of offences under this Act.
  • It shall be the duty of the State Government to establish adequate number of Courts to ensure that cases under this Act are disposed of within a period of two months, as far as possible.
  • In every trial in the Special Court or the Exclusive Special Court, the proceedings shall be continued from day-to-day until all the witnesses in attendance have been examined, unless the Special Court or the Exclusive Special Court finds the adjournment of the same beyond the following day to be necessary for reasons to be recorded in writing
  • Provided that when the trial relates to an offence under this Act, the trial shall, as far as possible, be completed within a period of two months from the date of filing of the charge sheet.]

Sec-15 of the Act provided Special Public Prosecutor and Exclusive Public Prosecutor.

 the State Government shall, by notification in the Official Gazette, specify

  • a Public Prosecutor or appoint an advocate who has been in practice as an advocate for not less than seven years, as a Special Public Prosecutor for the purpose of conducting cases  For every Special Court
  • an Exclusive Special Public Prosecutor or appoint an advocate who has been in practice as an advocate for not less than  seven years, as an Exclusive Special Public Prosecutor for the purpose of conducting cases  For every Exclusive Special

THE SALIENT FEATURES OF THE ACT ARE,

  • The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act,1989 was acknowledged as a landmark legislation in preventing atrocities against the members Scheduled Castes (SCs) and Scheduled Tribes (STs).
  • Creation of new types of offences not in the Indian Penal Code (IPC) or in the Protection of Civil Rights Act 1955 (PCRA).
  • Enlarges the area of criminal liability by identifying new types of offences, thereby including several acts of omission and commission not covered under either the IPC or PCR Act.
  • Protects SCs & STs from various kinds of atrocities relating to social disabilities, property, malicious persecution, political rights and economic exploitation.
  • Defines an atrocity crime by sole reference to caste identification of the offender (non-SCs & STs member) and the victim (SCs & STs member).
  • Commission of offences only by specified persons i.e. can be committed only by non-SCs and non-STs on members of the SC or ST communities. Crimes among SCs and STs or between STs and SCs do not come under the purview of this Act.
  • Defines various types of atrocities against SCs/STs.
  • Prescribes strict punishment for such atrocities
  • Enhanced the quality of punishment for some offences
  • Enhanced minimum punishment for public servants
  • Penalty for delinquency of duties by a public servant
  • Attachment and forfeiture of property
  • Externment of potential offenders
  • Makes arrangements for setting up Special Courts and grants special powers to them to ensure speedy trials of atrocity cases, and for Special Public Prosecutors to conduct the cases.
  • Empowers the government to impose collective fines

AMENDMENT IN SC AND THE ST (PREVENTION OF ATROCITIES) ACT, 1989

The Scheduled Castes (SCs) and the Scheduled Tribes (STs) Prevention of Atrocities (PoA) Act, 1989 was amended recently to include new offences and to ensure speedy justice to victims.

Key features of the  The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2015

The following new offences have been added to the list of atrocities

  • Tonsuring of head, moustache, or similar acts which are derogatory to the dignity of members of SCs & STs
  • Garlanding with Chappals
  • 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 SC/ST woman as Devadasi
  • Abusing in caste name, perpetrating witchcraft atrocities
  • Imposing social or economic boycott
  • Preventing SC/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 SCs/STs
  • Touching or using words, acts or gestures of a sexual nature against members of SCs/STs

EXCLUSIVE SPECIAL COURT FOR SPEEDY JUSTICE

The amendments to the act also authorize establishment of exclusive Special Courts and appointment of Exclusive Special Public Prosecutors to try the offences under this act. This is made to enable speedy justice and immediate disposal of cases.

The Special Courts have been mandated to take direct cognizance of offence and as far as possible, completion of trial of the case within two months, from the date of filing of the charge sheet.

The State Governments have been asked to prepare a panel of senior advocates who have been in practice for not less than seven years for each District, for conducting the cases filed under this act. The State Governments have also been asked to review the performance of these advocates at least twice in a calendar year. They are also asked to review various reports received, investigation made and preventive steps taken by the District Magistrate, Sub-Divisional Magistrate and Superintendent of Police, relief and rehabilitation facilities provided to the victims etc.

Atrocity:

Atrocity - means an offence punishable under section 3; [sec-2(1) (a)]

Sec-3 of the Act Provides punishment for offences of Atrocities

According to sec-3  an atrocity crime by sole reference to caste identification of the offender (non-SCs & STs member) and the victim (SCs & STs member).

Commission of offences only by specified persons i.e. can be committed only by non-SCs and non-STs on members of the SC or ST communities. Crimes among SCs and STs or between STs and SCs do not come under the purview of this Act.

Offences of atrocity

  • Forcing to drink or eat any inedible or obnoxious substance.
  • Dumping excreta, waste matter, carcasses or any other obnoxious substance.
  • Removing clothes, parading naked, painting face or body or any similar act. [
  • Occupying or cultivating any land.
  • Dispossessing from land, premises, interfering with rights over land, premises or water.
  • Compelling or enticing to do 'beggar or similar forms of forced or bonded labour.
  • Forcing or intimidating to vote or to vote to a particular candidate or to vote in a manner other than that provided by law.
  • Instituting false, malicious or vexatious suit or criminal or other legal proceedings.
  • Giving false or frivolous Information to any public servant.
  • Insulting or intimidating to humiliate in any place within public view.
  • Dishonoring or outraging the modesty of a woman.
  • To exploit a woman sexually.
  • Corrupting or fouling the water of any spring, reservoir.
  • Denying or obstructing any customary right of passage to a place of public resort.
  • Forcing or causing to leave house, village or place of residence.
  • Gives or fabricates false evidence.
  • Mischief by fire or any explosive substance to cause damage to any property.
  • Commits mischief by fire or any explosive substance to cause destruction of any building used as a place or worship, for human dwelling, custody of the property.
  • Commits offence under the IPC punishable with imprisonment for 10 years or more.
  • Causes any evidence of the commission of that offence to disappear.
  • Being a public servant, commits offence under Section 3.
  • Willful Negligence by public servant. [Sec 4]

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