Acquittals in SC/ST atrocity cases due to poor probe, tardy prosecution, Centre tells SC
New Delhi, Nov 21: The Centre told the Supreme Court that the high rate of acquittals in cases filed under the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act of 1989 is due to tardy investigation and the failure of the police. It would not be correct to say that the high rate of acquittals are due to false cases being filed, the Centre also said.
The submission was made when the Centre was trying to convince the court as to why it implemented the SC/ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act 2018. The amendment was enacted to nullify a March 20 judgment of the Supreme Court, which allowed anticipatory bail to those booked for committing atrocities against the members of the SC/ST community.
There was a major backlash post this verdict and the government also filed a review plea in the Supreme Court. Following the amendment several petitions were filed in the court in which the petitioners said that the Centre had made a blunder. The court had however not stayed the amendments.
"It is untrue to say that the high rate of acquittal under Prevention of Atrocities (PoA) related cases is largely on account of false cases and misuse of provisions of the Act. It is rather attributed to several factors like delay in lodging the FIR, witnesses and complainants becoming hostile, absence of proper scrutiny of the cases by the prosecution before filing the charge sheet in court, lack of proper prosecution of the case, long pendency of the trial, lack of corroborative evidence, etc., etc.," an affidavit filed by the government read.
The sad state of affairs continues despite the existence of 195 special courts across 14 States to exclusively try PoA cases. As per the National Crime Records Bureau, there is no decrease in the crimes against SC/ST members. The number of cases registered under the PoA in 2014 was 47,124, in 2015 it was 44,839 and in 2016, 47,338, the government further contended.