Conviction rate was 13 p.c. during 2008-2010 as against the national average of 31 p.c.

Andhra Pradesh ranks next only to Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh in the number of atrocities committed against Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

As against the 38,449 cases registered under the SC and ST (Prevention of Atrocities) Act throughout the country in 2010, Rajasthan accounted for 6,298 cases, Uttar Pradesh 6,222 and Andhra Pradesh 5,074. Apart from the high incidence of cases, the conviction rate in AP is as low as 13 per cent from 2008-10 compared to the national average of 31 per cent.

Pendency of cases

Andhra Pradesh is, however, better than other States in terms of pendency of the cases pegged at 70 per cent against the national average of 80 per cent. “Pendency of cases in Andhra Pradesh is high and there is concern about the low conviction rate. The government should explore all possible ways to remedy the situation,” Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment Mukul Wasnik has said.

Mr. Wasnik was briefing the media after an elaborate review of the status of implementation of the POA and Protection of Civil Rights Acts in the State. Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy, his Cabinet colleagues and senior officials attended the three-hour meeting which discussed the initiatives launched by the government to ensure all-round development of weaker sections.

Vigilance panels

The Union Minister wanted the State to set up special courts, as and when required, to exclusively deal with atrocities cases for easy trial and better conviction. In addition, a State-level vigilance and monitoring committee headed by the Chief Minister that could review the situation once in two years and similar bodies at the district-level for quarterly review of the situation should be set up.

“The authorities concerned can register cases under the POA in case of manual scavenging in line with the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs,” he said.

Replying to queries, he said the Centre sought views from the State governments on the SC categorisation issue and a final decision could be taken only after the States submitted their proposals in this direction.

Mr. Kiran Kumar Reddy briefed the Union Minister about the high power panel constituted to recommend measures for effective implementation of the SC/ST Sub-Plan.

The government initiated stringent action against those involved in the recent attack on Dalits in Lakshmipet in Srikakulam district to ensure that such incidents did not recur.

Several of the accused in the incident had already been arrested while 11 were still at large.

Compensation

The government, on its part, had provided compensation to some affected families and efforts were underway to rehabilitate them.