Monday, January 25, 2016

The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2015 to be enforced with effect from January 26, 2016

Press Information Bureau 
Government of India
Ministry of Social Justice & Empowerment

25-January-2016 11:29 IST

The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2015 to be enforced with effect from January 26, 2016 

The Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2015 to ensure more stringent provisions for prevention of Atrocities against Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes will be enforced with effect tomorrow i.e. January 26, 2016. 

Consequent upon passing of the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Bill, 2015 by the Lok Sabha on August 04,2015 and Rajya Sabha on December 21, 2015, to make amendments in the Principal Act, namely, the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) {PoA} Act, 1989, the Scheduled Castes and the Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Amendment Act, 2015, as assented by the President on December 31, 2015, was notified in the Gazette of India Extraordinary on January 01, 2016. After framing the rules for enactment, now it will be enforced by the Central Government with effect from January 26, 2016. 

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

•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 Scheduled Caste or a Scheduled Tribe women as devadasi, abusing in caste name, perpetrating witchcraft atrocities, imposing social or economic boycott, preventing Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes candidates from filing of nomination to contest elections, hurting a Scheduled Castes/Scheduled Tribes woman by removing her garments, forcing a member of Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe to leave house , village or residence, defiling objects sacred to members of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribe, touching or using words, acts or gestures of a sexual nature against members of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribe. 

•Addition of certain IPC offences like hurt, grievous hurt, intimidation, kidnapping etc., attracting less than ten years of imprisonment, committed against members of Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe, 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 Scheduled Caste/Scheduled Tribe are accepted as offences falling under the PoA Act. 

•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. 

•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. 

•Addition of chapter on the ‘Rights of Victims and Witnesses’. 

•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. 

•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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