BENGALURU: The Karnataka High Court on Wednesday took serious exception to delays in investigation, trials and low conviction in cases registered under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 and issued multiple directions including to the State government for the effective implementation of the Act.A division bench comprising Chief Justice Abhay Shreeniwas Oka and Justice Ashok S Kinagi issued the directions after hearing the State’s response to a PIL filed by the Committee for Monitoring and Strengthening SCs and STs in Karnataka.
The judge said according to Rule 7(2) the chargesheet must be filed in 60 days. “However, of the 35,091 cases at the end of 2015, chargesheet has been filed in only 6,451 cases... the government should clarify whether the investigation officer has submitted an explanation for the delay in investigation,” the bench said.
The bench directed the Registrar General (RG) of the high court to file a report on the State government’s request to set up nine more special courts to try cases under the Act, given the high number of pending cases, and the steps taken to fill vacancies of district judges. The bench directed the RG to issue a circular to all special courts, drawing the attention of judicial officers to the time frame fixed for atrocity cases. If such a circular has already been issued, the RG must file a report on whether training had been provided to them.
The low conviction rate can be improved by monitoring cases. The government must train investigation officers and Special Public Prosecutors to address the delay and large number of acquittals. The government can approach the Karnataka Judicial Academy for the training, it said.The government must furnish details of compensation provided to victims.