During 2008-10 it was 17.4 per cent in the State against national average of 31 per cent

The conviction rate in cases of atrocities against SC/STs in Tamil Nadu during 2008-10 was 17.4 per cent.

This is very low compared to the national average of about 31 per cent, the Union Home Ministry has submitted before the Madras High Court.

The Ministry submitted this in an affidavit in response to a public interest litigation petition for a direction to the State and Central authorities to establish immediately exclusive Special Courts under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act and also the Protection of Civil Rights Act along with adequate manpower and exclusive police stations in all the atrocity-prone districts to ensure speedy trial of cases.

The petitioner, A. Narayanan of Virugambakkam, a social activist, said the provision in the SC and ST (POA) Act provided for setting up of Special Courts to try offences under the Act.

However, special courts were functioning only in Tiruchi, Thanjavur, Tirunelveli and Madurai.

The conviction rate filed in cases under the Act was stated to be only 14 per cent or less.

Tamil Nadu had the fifth largest Dalit population in the country.

The population was fairly widespread in almost all districts.

Various forms of atrocities were reported from the districts.

‘Speedy justice elusive’

In the absence of special courts, trial of the cases would be greatly hampered and speedy justice would become elusive.

In the affidavit filed before the First Bench comprising Chief Justice R.K. Agrawal and Justice K. Ravichandrabaabu, Praveen Kumari Singh, Director (SR), Union Home Ministry, said the POA Act was implemented by the State governments.

It was primarily for the Tamil Nadu Government to respond to the matter.

‘Centre not responsible’

The Centre could not be held responsible for the implementation of the law.

The Union Minister for Social Justice and Empowerment, who was the Chairman of a committee set up in March 2006, had chaired a meeting in Chennai in July last year to review the implementation of the laws concerned and addressed a letter to the Chief Minister emphasising the important action points.

That included the conviction rate in the cases of atrocities.

The rate of pendency of such cases in courts during 2008-10 was 78 per cent in the State, the affidavit said.

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