LUCKNOW: Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati, who was vocal enough in extending support to Monday Bharat Bandh by Dalit organisations against alleged dilution of SC/ST Act by the Supreme Court, had, in fact, initiated the process of the dilution of the Act during her regime in UP in 2007.
As Chief Minister of country’s most populous state which has over 20 per cent Dalit population, issued at least two letters at a gap of six months modifying the SC/ST Act-1989 claiming that it was being often used to nail to innocents.
Both the orders issued signed by the then chief secretaries, the copy of which is with TNIE, clearly mention that action under the SC/ST Act should not be initiated on the basis of complaint only. Arrest should be made only after the accused was found prima facie guilty in the initial probe.
The first letter, dated May 20, 2007 and issued with the signature of the then chief secretary Shambhu Nath, point number 18 dealt at length with the issue of police complaints under the SC/ST Atrocities Act. It underlined that only serious offences like murder and rape etc should be registered under the SC/ST Act while the less serious offences related to scheduled castes and tribes should be done away with under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
In case of a rape complaint under SC/ST Act, it mentions that action should be initiated against the accused only after sexual assault is established in the medical examination of the victim and prima-facie the charges appear to be true. It also mentions that action should not be initiated only because the complainant is a member of SC/ST. There have been instances where powerful people use such individuals as a cover to settle scores with their rivals, clarifies the note. The note also directed the then Director General of Police (DGP) to submit a monthly report on all cases filed under SC/ ST Act with the principal secretary home.
The order issued in May was followed by another directive date October 29, 2007 issued by the then chief secretary Prashant Kumar to the DGP and all senior officers on field duty, in which it was clearly stated that if the complainant is found to have implicated an innocent falsely under the provisions of SC/ST Act then the complainant must be booked under Section 182 of the Indian Penal Code which provides for action in case false information is furnished to any public servant with the intent to cause public servant to use his lawful power to the injury of another person. Offence under this section draws six-month jail term or fine or both.
“Behenji was heading a government which was ensured justice to all. She wanted to assure every section of society that no one could be implicated falsely and that laws could not be misused to settle personal scores,” said a senior BSP leader when asked to clarify the contradiction of BSP leadership over the controversial Act.