NEW DELHI: Uttar Pradesh neither set up special police stations for dealing with atrocities on Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, nor identified areas prone to such transgressions despite 10,430 cases in 2016. This dismal situation is not endemic to the northern state alone even after amendments made in the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act in 2016 to infuse urgency in dispensation of justice.
The poor implementation of the Act has been overlooked even as a public debate rages over the Supreme Court scrapping the provisions of automatic FIR and mandatory arrest, primarily on the basis of poor conviction records and high closure rates of cases.
While leaders of political parties, including those of the BJP, are urging the government to file a review petition in the apex court to reconsider the decision, statistics reveal states are slow in implementing the rules mandated under the Act.
Only four states—Bihar, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh —have special police stations. Exclusive special courts, which are to be set up mandatorily in all states to try cases of discrimination, are present in 14 states only.
The Act calls for formation of vigilance and monitoring committees in several districts across all states and union territories. These committees monitor the progress of SC/ST atrocity cases. Four states and a Union Territory did not even set up these committees as per National Crime Records Bureau data for 2016.
The poor implementation of the Act is also evident from statistics on identification of atrocity-prone areas— 25 of the 29 states and seven Union Territories failed to do so.
Activist-lawyer KP Gongore, who has been representing SC/STs in such cases for more than a decade, says the low acquittal rate doesn’t only imply misuse of the Act but also indicates clear bias of the police.