Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989

1 min read
Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 Blog Image


The Allahabad High Court recently said that an alleged act of intentional insult or intimidation causing humiliation would constitute an offence under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989 only if it is committed in public view.

About Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act, 1989:

  • It is an Act to prevent the commission of offences of atrocities against the members of the Scheduled Castes (SCs) and the Scheduled Tribes (STs) by persons other than SCs and STs.
  • It provides for punishment for offences of atrocities committed against SCs and STs. 
  • It authorizes the Central Government to frame rules for carrying out the purpose of the Act. 
  • The Act is implemented by the respective State Governments and Union Territory Administrations, which are provided due central assistance under the Centrally Sponsored Scheme for effective implementation of the provisions of the Act.
  • Offences:
    • This Act does not apply to crimes committed between SCs and STs or between STs and SCs.
    • There are 37 offences included in the Act that involve patterns of behaviour inflicting criminal offences and breaking the self-respect and esteem of the SCs and STs community.
    • Among these are the denial of economic, democratic, and social rights, as well as the exploitation and abuse of the legal system.
  • Investigation:
    • All offences listed in the Act are cognizable
    • An investigation of offence committed under the Act cannot be investigated by an officer not below the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP).
    • The investigation should be completed within 30 days, and the report should be sent directly to the director of the state police.
  • Special Courts:
    • The act clearly states about the constitution of special courts for hearing cases on atrocities against SCs and STs.
    • For the purpose of providing for a speedy trial, the State Government shall with the concurrence of the Chief Justice of the High Court, establish in each district a Court of Session to be a Special Court exclusively to try the offences under this Act. 
    • The exclusive Special Courts shall try offences under this Act on day-to-day basis.
    • For every Special Court, the State Government shall specify a Public Prosecutor or appoint an advocate who has been in practice as an advocate for not less than seven years, as a Special Public Prosecutor for the purpose of conducting cases in that Court.
  • Punishment:
    • The minimum punishment in most cases is six months of imprisonment, while the maximum is five years sentence and with fine.
    • In some cases, the minimum is enhanced to one year while the maximum goes up to life imprisonment or even a death sentence.
    • Section 4 of the act deals with punishment for neglect of duties by a public servant. According to this section if a public servant, who is not a member of the SC or ST, deliberately neglects his duties, which he should perform under the Act, he is liable for punishment with imprisonment up to six months.
      • According to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Rules, 1995, the District Magistrate or the Sub-Divisional Magistrate, or any other Executive Magistrate shall make arrangements for providing immediate relief in cash or in kind, or both, to the victims of atrocity, their family members, and dependents.

Such immediate relief shall also include food, water, clothing, shelter, medical aid, transport facilities, and other essential items necessary for human beings.

Q1: Who is a Public Prosecutor?

The Prosecutor who represents the State is called a Public Prosecutor as a criminal offence is regarded as a public wrong, which has been committed not only against the victim, but also against the society as a whole. Criminal Cases are always termed as “State vs the accused” as they are considered as offences against the people of the state. Public Prosecutors are really Ministers of Justice whose job is none other than assisting the State in the administration of Justice. They are not representatives of any party. Their job is to assist the Court by placing before the Court all relevant aspects of the case. They are not there to use their office against the innocent to go to the gallows. They are also not there to see the culprits escape conviction. The role of the Public Prosecutor begins once the police has conducted the investigation and files the charge sheet in the Court. He represents the interests of the State and conducts the prosecution on behalf of the State.

Source: SC/ST act violation requires public view, Allahabad HC asserts