SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Rules Amended

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Amendments have been done in the Principal Rules namely the Scheduled Castes (SC) and the Scheduled Tribes (ST) (Prevention of Atrocities (PoA)) Rules, 1995 by the SC and the ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Rules, 2016.

Consequent upon amendments done in the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) {PoA} Act, 1989 by the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2015 (No. 1 of 2016), certain amendments had been necessitated in the subordinate legislation.


Accordingly a Task Force was constituted under Chairpersonship of the Secretary, Department of Social Justice and Empowerment, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment with members drawn from Ministries of Social Justice and Empowerment, Home Affairs, Tribal Affairs, Law and Justice, National Commission for Scheduled Castes, National Commission for Scheduled Tribes, State Governments of Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Tamil Nadu and Odisha.

The Task Force having held two meetings, finalised its report. Based on the recommendations contained in the said Report of the Task Force and the introspection done in the Department of Social Justice and Empowerment, amendments of following nature have been done in the PoA Rules:

  1. Rationalisation of the phasing of payment of relief amount to victims for various offences of atrocities. This includes prescribing relief for new offences of atrocities as well for rephrased/expanded offences and not linking payment of any part of relief amount with the requirement of medical examination for non-invasive kind of offences against women like sexual harassment, gestures or acts intended to insult the modesty, assault or use of criminal force with intent to disrobe, voyeurism, stalking.
  2. Provision of relief for offences of rape and gang rape.
  3. Increase in the existing quantum of relief amount i.e. between Rs. 75,000/- to Rs. 7, 50,000/-, depending upon the nature of the offence, by around 10%, as rounded of i.e. between Rs. 85,000/- to Rs. 8, 25,000/-, depending upon the nature of the offence, while linking it with the Consumer Price Index for Industrial Workers for the month of January, 2016.

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

  1. New offences of atrocities like tonsuring of head, moustache, or similar acts which are derogatory to the dignity of members of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes, 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 or a ST 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 or ST woman by removing her garments, forcing a member of SC or ST to leave house , village or residence, defiling objects sacred to members of SC and ST, touching or using words, acts or gestures of a sexual nature against members of SC and ST.
  2. Addition of certain IPC offences like hurt, grievous hurt, intimidation, kidnapping etc., attracting less than ten years of imprisonment, committed against members of SC or ST, as offences punishable under the PoA Act. Presently, only those offences listed in IPC as attracting punishment of 10 years or more and committed on members of SC or ST are accepted as offences falling under the PoA Act.
  3. Establishment of Exclusive Special Courts and specification of Exclusive Special Public Prosecutors also, to exclusively try the offences under the PoA Act to enable speedy and expeditious disposal of cases.
  4. 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 within two months, from the date of filing of the charge sheet.
  5. Addition of chapter on the 'Rights of Victims and Witnesses'.
  6. Defining clearly the term 'wilful negligence' of public servants at all levels, starting from the registration of complaint, and covering aspects of dereliction of duty under this Act.
  7. Addition of presumption to the offences -If the accused was acquainted with the victim or his family, the court will presume that the accused was aware of the caste or tribal identity of the victim unless proved otherwise.

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